Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Guest View: Dick Leonard ~ A fresh perspective on fixing the Oro Valley Golf Dilemma

The Town of Oro Valley is trying to minimize the financial losses of the Golf Operation and is now weighing the suggestions posed in the Golf Consultant's Report which includes resizing the golf courses.

Each option suggested in the National Golf Foundation Study involves a huge upfront cost and sizable construction efforts. This construction will involve earth moving equipment, the associated noise, and the potential of Valley Fever cases due to the amount of dust and dirt to be moved. This should be a concern of the nearby residents.

Along with the high-cost solutions suggested by the Golf Consultants, perhaps it is time to consider other options which would not require such huge costs and could be done with little or no construction.

In the spirit of maintaining a successful Municipal Golf Program in Oro Valley, let’s consider the following two additional options.

Option 1.
The first option, and by far the least costly and most easily done, is to simply lease one of the two 18-hole courses to the Country Club Membership. Every golfer knows the benefit of a country club is the access to unlimited play and the priority tee time schedules available. They also understand this comes with the obligation for the members to pay for the club's operation, similar to Stone Canyon, The Gallery, and Oro Valley Country Clubs. This would be a win-win situation for all parties involved.

The Membership would have the exclusive course, with full control over dues, schedules, course conditions, and cart policy. In addition, residents with golf course views would see no changes, as all 36 holes would remain intact.

The Town benefits from savings in maintenance and promotion costs for a complete 18-hole course, while the revenue from the lease would greatly reduce the burden of present Town-wide tax subsidies. With a few hours of legal tweaks, a standard Lease Agreement could be quickly written......Everybody wins!

Option 2.
Return to the original 18-hole course design. This could involve a small upfront cost, but little or no construction, or fears of Valley Fever. This option has the distinct advantage that 9 holes of play could be available to all young and old golfers, as recommended by the National USGA.

This plan would place all unused golf property under the control of the Parks Department, which would easily meet the needs of repurposing and creating beautiful and functional green spaces to satisfy the nearby affected residents. The main benefit of this option is that it matches the actual golf usage to only the necessary golf course size.

Again, the savings in course maintenance, outside management, and personnel costs, would dramatically cut the public obligation for tax subsidies, leaving substantial monies to update and improve the Community Center and build the sports fields requested by our many younger families.

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Mr. Leonard is a property owner in Oro Valley. As a 20-year member of the El Con Country Club, he is well-versed on golf operations. Additionally, he spends his summers in Minnesota where he is a staff member of the Braemar Golf complex in Edina, MN. Braemar is one of the busiest s self-sustaining municipal courses in the state. Based on future golf predictions, Braemar is currently closed while they double the size of the driving range and downsize the courses from 27 to 18 holes.