Harding Park fees to go up again

Fees at Harding Park, The City’s premier golf course, will be going up for the second time in a little more than a year.

City residents will still pay the lowest fees despite a $10 hike to play the course, while Bay Area residents will have topony up an additional $5. Tournament prices will jump $16 for residents and $26 for nonresidents.

The increase comes as The City’s golf courses — six in total — continue to drain hundred of thousands of dollars from park and maintenance budgets.

In January, an audit of the Recreation and Park Department revealed that while the golf courses could cover operation costs, they did not generate enough cash to repay money that was borrowed to renovate Harding Park and nearby Fleming Park.

In 2002, both golf courses underwent a $23.6 million face-lift, more than $7.5 million above original estimates, to prepare it for PGA tournaments.

Due to the renovations, more than $16.6 million in state grant funds earmarked for parks in low-income neighborhoods and another $2.2 million in open space funds were borrowed.

Public golf courses received $500,000 from The City’s general fund last year and another $1.5 million this year, according to Isabel Wade, the executive director of the Neighborhood Parks Council, to help offset its costs. Noelle Simmons, the mayor’s budget director, said that this year they will receive another $1.4 million.

“We know people are willing to pay more for fees; of course, it now being our premier course it made sense that we had to readjust our fees and make it [in] line with other courses in the region,” Recreation and Park Department spokeswoman Rose Dennis said. Mayor Gavin Newsom also asked the Rec and Park Department to come up with a number of alternatives to shrink the losses, including outsourcing the management of its courses.

The department has yet to put forth any ideas on that request.

“The Mayor’s Office has asked park and rec to explore measures to get there but we are not going to get there this year,” Simmons said, adding that there was no timetable on when the courses would be self-sustaining.

One of the department’s creative solutions is to split tee times 50-50 between residents and nonresidents, up from a 35 percent limit on nonresidents before.

sfarooq@examiner.com

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