The former Center City Golf Course in Oceanside Calif., will now be known as Goat Hill Park, a name already used by golfers, and is working on $3.6 million in improvements to the clubhouse and golf course.
The former Center City Golf Course, a once-struggling city-owned property in Oceanside, Calif., is on the upswing, with new managers having already completed some of the $3.6 million in improvements planned, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.
The name has also been revamped, to Goat Hill Park—a nod to the moniker locals have long and fondly called the municipal course. And there is a tagline: “world class, working class.” The clubhouse has been upgraded and the course will soon be, too. Even the golf carts are new, the Union-Tribune reported.
The remodeling work is well under way, a few months after longtime North County resident John Ashworth and his partners David Emerick and Geoff Cunningham were handed the keys to the property. The new management will run the course as a nonprofit, the Union-Tribune reported.
“I’ve played all over the world,” Ashworth said. “It’s a really fun golf course, and we want to keep it that way—for all levels.”
The course opened in 1952, but in recent years had fallen into disrepair and was barely breaking even. City officials talked repeatedly about the revenue potential at the high-profile property and considered and rejected varied proposals for the land, including whether it could house a new stadium for the San Diego Chargers, the Union-Tribune reported.
Instead, the city inked a deal with Ashworth that requires he and his partners to invest at least $3.6 million on Goat Hill, including renovating the 75-acre golf course. That work will come over the course of the next year. The plan includes replacing 25 acres of fairways with drought-tolerant landscaping, the Union-Tribune reported.
The golf course has remained open through the upgrades. The clubhouse now has a new roof, and a new look inside—including a total makeover of the pro shop, with new floors, new drywall and a new look for the ceiling. The patio has also been upgraded, and now offers a bar, the Union-Tribune reported.
“It’s just more comfortable. We just felt like this is a long-term approach and we wanted to have a comfortable environment,” Ashworth said.
Ashworth runs Oceanside-based golf apparel company Linksoul—links and soul, which he said is about his desire to connect people to the soul of golf, the Union-Tribune reported.
Part of his mission for the course is to work with children, and neighborhood kids have been coming by after school. Emerick, a PGA member for 25 years, is running his North County Junior Golf Academy out of Goat Hill Park, the Union-Tribune reported.
“I think it is in the right direction. The clubhouse is looking fantastic,” said Kiyomi Waller, a 46-year-old Oceanside native who has played at the course since the early 1990s.
Ashworth’s contract to manage the course has a two-year term with an option for a 30-year extension followed by two 10-year extensions. Beginning in the sixth year, Ashworth would pay 2 percent of total gross revenues into a capital improvements reserve, the Union-Tribune reported.
Ashworth and Emerick each repeatedly said that their success with the upgrades has come only through community support. “This is about the community,” Emerick said. “It’s not just about golf. Its a way of life. Goat Hill is a place for kids and families to go—and not be too golf-y.”
For Ashworth, fixing up Goat Hill is “absolutely” a labor he loves.“There is no way I could not do this,” he said.