Despite a steady increase in rounds played over the last four years, Mission Bay and Balboa Park continue to lose money. San Diego City’s Golf Division blames rising costs for water and personnel.
The Balboa Park and Mission Bay municipal golf facilities continue to lose money for the city of San Diego’s golf division, which also faces increasing costs for water and personnel, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.
The golf division continues to turn annual profits overall thanks to revenue generated by two courses at Torrey Pines, but the $1.6 million in revenue projected for the current budget year is less than half the $3.5 million average in recent years, the Union-Tribune reported.
That shrinking revenue projection comes despite total golf rounds played at the city’s courses increasing five years in a row, including spikes at Balboa and Mission Bay that have been attributed to upgraded facilities and promotional efforts, the Union-Tribune reported.
Because all division profits get spent on upgrades at the courses, the downturn may delay some projects on a long list of proposed upgrades that includes new clubhouses at Balboa and Mission Bay, the Union-Tribune reported.
The continued losses at Balboa are particularly frustrating, City Councilman Scott Sherman of Allied Garden told leaders of the Golf Division during a recent meeting of the council’s Environment Committee, the Union-Tribune reported.
“I think Balboa is an amazing course,” Sherman said. “It’s got all the potential in the world with some of the views and layout it has over there.”
The number of total rounds at Balboa, which has both an 18-hole course and a nine-hole course, has steadily increased from 100,459 four years ago to 104,084 in the budget year that ended June 30, the Union-Tribune reported.
Those totals are still well below the 130,000 target for total rounds played per year that city officials have set for Balboa, the Union-Tribune reported.
Total rounds played is also up at Mission Bay, from 56,039 four years ago to 65,164 during the budget year that ended June 30. But that’s also short of the 75,000 target set by city officials, the Union-Tribune reported.
The spikes in usage at Balboa and Mission Bay have been partly attributed to upgrades, including new foot and disc golf courses added to each and a greater focus on the quality of course conditions, the Union-Tribune reported.
In addition, the city added a new fleet of golf carts at Balboa and took over operation of the pro shop, which generated nearly $1 million for the city last year, the Union-Tribune reported.
Those increases in revenue were offset by sharp increases in overall golf division expenses, which have climbed to $18.9 million from $15.6 million during the last four years – a spike of more than 20 percent, the Union-Tribune reported.
Division officials blamed the increase on water and personnel costs. In the division’s adopted spending plan for this budget year, energy and utility costs are projected to rise $474,000 – from $2.1 million to $2.6 million – and personnel costs are projected to rise $296,000 – from $4.3 million to $4.6 million, the Union-Tribune reported.
“This rate of increase is significant and needs to be monitored and managed over the coming years,” according to a staff report submitted by division leaders.
San Diego water rates increase 2 percent this week, part of larger multi-year spike, the Union-Tribune reported.
Balboa and Mission Bay typically lose a combined $2 million each year, while Torrey Pines typically turns an annual profit of about $6 million because of its popularity with tourists, the Union-Tribune reported.
The south course at Torrey Pines hosted the 2008 U.S. Open, which was won by Tiger Woods, and is scheduled to host the 2021 U.S. Open. The north and south course jointly host a professional men’s tour event each winter that is now called the Farmers Insurance Open.
The visibility that comes from those events helped the city sign a marketing and sponsorship deal in 2016 with Turfstar to provide San Diego $7.5 million in cash and other contributions over the next 12 years, the Union-Tribune reported.
The revenue numbers from the city courses don’t include lease payments the city gets, the Union-Tribune reported. The city gets about $800,000 in total lease revenue from Mission Bay and Balboa Park, and about $1.6 million from Torrey Pines.
The annual payments are equivalent to 10 percent of gross revenue plus $1,806 per acre, the Union-Tribune reported.
On top of that roughly $2.4 million, the city receives $2 million each year from seven other courses it owns but doesn’t operate: Carlton Oaks, Fairbanks Ranch Country Club, Tecolote Canyon, Mission Trails, Presidio Hills, The Vineyard and the Pro Kids Golf Academy, the Union-Tribune reported.
Revenue at Torrey is projected to increase beginning Jan. 1, when the cost per round for city residents will increase from $41 to $42 on weekdays and from $52 to $54 on weekends, and the cost per round for non-residents will increase from $110 to $116 on weekdays and from $138 to $145 on weekends, the Union-Tribune reported.