S.F. golf courses in the hole, losing money, players

San Francisco’s money-losing 18-hole golf courses are significantly underutilized, with the courses lying unused about half of the time, according to a report released Thursday.

The San Francisco Recreation and Park Department, which operates the six golf courses as well as three nine-hole courses, has come under pressure from the Board of Supervisors to improve the condition of the six public courses. In 2007, the department needed a $1.4 million subsidy from The City’s operating budget to keep the courses afloat.

Additionally, the Neighborhood Parks Council has criticized the use of the courses. Members have said the courses take up 485 acres of valuable real estate that could be put to other uses, such as for soccer and hiking.

Recreation and Park officials are currently considering privatizing three of the courses. In April, the department asked private companies to suggest how they could help eliminate funding shortfalls.

The report released Thursday included recommendations to privatize the courses, such as leasing the golf courses to private companies; paying private companies to manage the courses; and forming nonprofit management corporations to run the courses.

According to the report — prepared by PROS Consulting in conjunction with a golf advisory committee set up by The City — around 130,000 rounds of golf were played on the 18-hole courses in 2006. That amounts to just 55 percent of the 236,000 rounds that could have been played if the courses were fully utilized.

The popularity of the courses has fallen over the past decade in line with regional and national trends, according to the report. In 1997, 214,000 rounds of golf were played on the courses. More recent figures were not included in the long-overdue and heavily redacted draft report. Figures for the nine-hole courses were also not included.

The report is being prepared at the request of the Board of Supervisors, department general manager Yomi Agunbiade previously told The Examiner.

“It’s a process we’re not rushing,” he said. “It was hard getting everyone to agree on what we should study.”

jupton@sfexaminer.com

Examiner Staff Writer Beth Winegarner contributed to this report.

Under par

Golf courses not making the cut:

  • 91 percent Utilization of the 18-hole courses in 1996
  • 55 percent Utilization of the 18-hole courses in 2006
  • 78,596 Potential rounds of golf annually at each city-owned 18-hole course
  • 60,464 Rounds of golf played at Harding Park GC in 2006
  • 35,197 Rounds of golf played at Sharp Park GC in 2006
  • 34,748 Rounds of golf played at Lincoln Park GC in 2006
  • $2.1 million Revenue from Sharp Park Golf Course in 2005
  • $1.5 million Revenue from Sharp Park Golf Course in 2007 (estimate)
  • $1.6 million Expenditures to run Sharp Park Golf Course in 2005
  • $1.7 million Expenditures to run Sharp Park Golf Course in 2007 (estimate)

Source: San Francisco Recreation and Park Department

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