First Tee Seeks to End Its Operation of Historic Sacramento Course

By | May 17th, 2018

The city has been told by First Tee of Greater Sacramento that it wants to terminate its lease to operate the nearly century-old nine-hole course, which is expected to lose another $150,000 this year, to continue a five-year trend of heavy losses. First Tee took over the facility in 1998 and says it has invested more than $1.3 million in the property. City officials say they’re determined to find a solution and avoid shutting down the course.

 

From high-school students to mayors, the nine-hole public golf course in Sacramento, Calif.’s Land Park has been the hacking ground for generations of golfers in the state’s capital city, The Sacramento Bee reported. But suddenly, it’s in trouble.

First Tee of Greater Sacramento, which operates the William Land Golf Course, has told city officials it wants to terminate its lease with the city by the end of June, The Bee reported. First Tee of Greater Sacramento wrote in a letter last month that it expects to lose $150,000 this year at the course, continuing a five-year trend of heavy losses brought on by a decline in golfers and revenue.

In its letter, The Bee reported, First Tee wrote it has invested more than $1.3 million into the Land Park course since it took over the facility in 1998.

“Unfortunately, the golf industry is in a national, regional and local economic decline, dramatically influencing the viability of golf course operators,” First Tee’s letter to the city said.

If the city can’t come up with a deal that absorbs some of the losses, The Bee reported, the Land Park course could shut down after nearly a century.

But Councilman Steve Hansen, who represents Land Park, said city officials will work with First Tee “to see what options there are,” The Bee reported. The City Council is scheduled to adopt a budget next month for the upcoming fiscal year, and Hansen said there may be money available for the course.

“We can find a solution that keeps First Tee engaged and keeps the course available to the public and the kids,” Hansen said. “There’s going to be tremendous community support for ensuring the operations continue at the golf course.”

The nine-hole golf course in Land Park opened in 1924 and was the first course in Sacramento, The Bee reported. It remains a quirky attraction—known by some area golfers as “the people’s course”—and a round of golf can cost as little as $5 for a tee time late in the afternoon. It’s not unusual to see golfers walking the course with their dogs and wearing the kind of casual attire frowned upon at country clubs.

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, who plays at the course, said, “We cannot shut down city golf courses,” The Bee reported.

“No way. Can’t do it,” Steinberg said at a City Council budget hearing on May 15th.

Interim Assistant City Manager Chris Conlin told the City Council that officials have had “very productive meetings” with First Tee, The Bee reported.

“We want to keep that as a golf course,” Conlin said. “We will figure out a way.”

 

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