City seeks uniform golf pricing

New Rec and Park policies would set up clear guidelines for putting organizations

On any given day, it’s harder than a hole in one for local golfing organizations to predict the price its members will be charged to play on a city-run course. Now The City hopes to change that.

In an attempt to end random pricing on The City’s financially troubled courses, the Recreation and Park Department, which has jurisdiction over the greens, is trying to create a standard policy for renting out its six municipal courses.

The move, which is likely to result in an increased price for some and a decrease for others, comes after the Recreation and Park Commission voted in June to increase greens fees at Harding Park, The City’s crown jewel, by $10 for the discounted rate paid by city residents and $5 for nonresidents. The move was made to try to close at least some of a projected budget gap. The City will hold a public hearing next week to discuss establishing new policies, including standard rental fees, which will apply to all clubs.

“The proposals are towards the clubs themselves [and] it really is about obviously efficiency and serving the public better,” Recreation and Park Department spokeswoman Rose Marie Dennis said.

There are dozens of golf clubs in The City that have negotiated fees to play club tournaments and championships on the public golf courses since as early as 1946. But there has never been a set fee or a policy for the Recreation and Park Department to follow when renting the courses.

That lack of guidelines could be discouraging golf organization from renting local courses. San Francisco resident Jeff McNulty, who runs a golf club in The City, said his organization rented Harding Park to play a club tournament and the process was difficult. Only about 28 of the 90 members ended up paying $150 each to play in the tournament because, he said, several of his members who live in The City could have played on the course for less if they were not part of the club.

“We play one tournament per month and we go all around the Bay Area and we would love to make a stop in San Francisco, but this year we are playing at the Presidio because it is just easier,” he said.

Inaddition to Harding Park, other city-run courses include the Fleming course at Lake Merced, the Lincoln Park course, the Golden Gate Park course, Sharp Park in Pacifica and Gleneagles International Golf Course in the Excelsior district.

The courses have struggled to make money since San Francisco borrowed $16.6 million of state grant funds in 2002 to complete a $23.6 million renovation of the Harding Park and Fleming courses to prepare for Professional Golf Association tournaments. Since the renovation, the golf courses have failed to generate enough revenue to cover either operating costs or interest payments to pay back the loan.

The Recreation and Park Commission will hold a public hearing at its regularly scheduled meeting on Thursday, Nov. 16, in City Hall, Room 416 to discuss potential policies.

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