Posted 9:27 PM 10/22/2012 : City considers closing two golf courses
TUCSON - Golf may bring thousands of visitors to Arizona but, right now, the Tucson City Council is considering closing two courses - city sites that keep losing money.
There are currently five golf courses operated by the city. Last year 193,000 rounds of golf were played on those courses. That's down over 100,000 rounds from ten years ago.
The city estimates that since 2005, there is a combined operational debt of $7.5 million.
On Monday, the Tucson City Greens Committee met to discuss options for the public courses at Randolph Golf Course. According to City of Tucson Director of Finance Kelly Gottschalk, it's time for the city courses to get out of their financial holes. "Tucson, like all the courses around the country, have been losing money for the past couple of years," Gottschalk said, "and the mayor and council have decided that golf is an activity that needs to be completely self-sufficient, so we are looking at how we can do that."
Since 2005, El Rio Golf Course, on Tucson's west side, has required subsidies of over $3 million and is on track to lose nearly half-a-million dollars this year. Fred Enke, on the city's far east side, is in the red for $750,000 over that same period and is expected to lose over $240,000 this year.
At the meeting on Monday, the Tucson City Greens Committee discussed some of the options, including privatizing and letting other businesses come in and run the courses. But advocates of the keeping the courses public, like committee member Frank Salbego, believe the city should take a swing at other options.
"Why should these courses be empty at two in the afternoon, why can't they play a round for $5, why can't they have a cart for $5 bucks?"
If the courses aren't able to reverse their fortunes, and soon, the most likely option will be turning the courses in to multi-purpose facilities, or more simply put, parks. Tucson City Councilman Paul Cunningham says right now it all comes down to dollars. "Golf is still a recreational program, it has 32,000 youth rounds are given for one dollar a round. It still has some benefits", said Cunningham. "That being said, we really want golf to pay its own way."
On Tuesday afternoon, the city council will meet and the fate of the public courses will be on the agenda. The closing of the two courses could happen within the next six to nine months.
Check out the latest events FC Tucson has scheduled.
Help those in need this holiday season
Click here to submit a news tip to us!
Become a Facebook Fan!
Sign up on KVOA.com for newsletters, exclusive deals, and more!
Win! Win! Win!
Get news, weather and more on your smartphone and tablet!
Get texts for news, traffic, deals and more!
Stories and videos with Kristi's Kids
What's happening on News 4 @ 4
Let us help grow your business
What's on KVOA and when!
Contact info for our department heads
FCC Public File of Records, Reports, and More
KVOA's on air personalities!
Work at News 4 Tucson
Complete feeds of all KVOA.com stories