May 12, 2012 1:34 AM
TUCSON - If you like to hit the links, you may soon have to pay more to tee it up.
The city operates five public courses, Randolph, Dell Urich, Silverbell, Fred Enke and el Rio but the program now faces an $8-million deficit largely due to declining numbers..
To help fix that, the city is looking at the possibility of raising fees by an average of 3 dollars.
It hasn't been a good decade for golf. Nationally, numbers are down by 28 percent and Tucson is in the same category.
Mike Hayes is the head of Tucson's golf operations. He said, "There's gotta be a solution. Golf is an enterprise and as the council has made very clear, we can't be a drain on the general fund."
So they came up with the idea of a 3 dollar increase to play. Its estimated to bring in about $500,000; not a real money maker for an already struggling industry.
Hayes said, "It just needs to pay for itself. Our goal and mission is to have good golf courses at as low as we can do the pricing and maintain it for citizens of Tucson.
But some golfers said they shouldn't be the ones paying for it. Jimmy Roper is one of those golfers angry at the idea of paying more. He said, "I think it's a bad. It's a bad time to be raising fees. If they just keep the fees where they're at they would get more people coming out, but if they raise them then people will go away."
Others said three bucks isn't that big of a deal.
Golfer David Buck said, "Three dollars is a soda on the course or a drink before or after. I don't know if that would keep anybody from actually playing."
Robert Norris said, "Three dollars is absolutely worth it."
Worth it to keep the courses open. Norris said, "The country clubs are a great value if you can play 3 or 4 times a week and enjoy a membership but public courses make it affordable for everyone to play."
Hayes said, "As a golfer I think this is my form of recreation and it's not a lot different than using a pool or playing softball, walking a path or using a rec center.
The increase isn't locked in, it's still being looked at by the council, but something will have to be done or the city will be scoring a bogey when it comes to the future of golf in Tucson.