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LA's Golf Courses in Money Trouble, Operators Fleeing

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Amidst talk of a new plan for managing and operating the city-owned golf courses around Los Angeles, news comes that operators are abandoning the municipal golf courses two at a time. According to the LA Daily News, one of the city's premier tracks, Rancho Park in Cheviot Hills, has been without concessionaire Steve Oh since the beginning of the month. Oh left after the city sent a letter last month telling him to start making the $2.2 million in improvements included in a contract signed two years ago. The pro shop there's been closed since he left. The concessionaire at Woodley Lakes Golf Course in Van Nuys will depart October 31 after the city refused to renegotiate its contract.

Apparently the city has unrealistic expectations about the financials of its municipal courses. Tim Cotti, the 17-year head PGA pro at Woodley, tells the LADN that golf play is down about 30 percent at the course and Craig Kessler, director of governmental affairs for the Southern California Golf Association, says that the city overestimates how much more revenue it can pull out of its golf operations: "They are maxed out at what they can charge in green fees and their expectations are based on what golf was producing in the 1990s...That's no longer the case and the city is looking to get another $1.3 million from the golf operation. I'm not sure it's there." The city's golf operation generated $30 million last year, down a little from previous years.

Back in August, the Daily News reported that the city had completed an audit of the city's concession operations, and would hold a hearing on the report in September. The Board of Recreation and Parks got a copy of the report at its last meeting, but it has yet to schedule a hearing. If you have strong opinions about the Eighth Hole at Roosevelt or any other municipal courses, the report is available online and public comments are still open.
· Golf courses can't hit the green [Daily News]
· L.A. looks at ways to better manage city golf courses [Daily News]
· Evaluation of Operating Options [Dept. of Rec and Parks]