City of Tucson tees up higher golf fees
City courses are supposed to be self supporting---but tax money has been closing holes in the golf program budget Video by kgun9.comvideo
City officials worry golfers may take their business to private courses that are discounting their fees enough to be close to what city courses charge
Reporter: Craig Smith
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - The City of Tucson is teeing up higher greens fees to get the golf program out of the red.
City golf courses are supposed to collect enough fees to pay for themselves but fewer golfers have been teeing up on Tucson's turf for years so city golf's had a budget deep in the rough even before the recession smacked down almost everyone's budget.
For the City Council it became something too tough to sell politically to put taxpayer dollars into the golf courses when voters are complaining over and over about the condition of city streets and the condition of other city services.
So that means golfers will have to pay more to play.
Fees will go up or down based on the season but will average out to a hike of three dollars a round.
Young golfers, classed as juniors will lose their dollar a round discount.
Retired city employees will lose their discounts which varied widely based on time of year.
Frequent golfers can buy rewards cards to earn free rounds based on how often they play. They'll cost an extra five dollars for Tucson residents, an extra ten for non-residents.
The risk is the higher fees will drive golfers to private courses.
Mitchell Aguilar says the convenient location will probably keep him coming back to the city courses in Reid Park. But he knows fancy private courses can be close to city course prices.
"For instance we played Arizona National the other day for 33 bucks, with a cart, so I mean, it's about the same price which makes it hard to justify playing here when you go to Arizona National."
But Jim Ackels says he's satisfied with what he gets for him money on the city courses.
KGUN9 reporter Craig Smith asked him: "Sometimes we hear golfers complain about the condition of the places."
Jim Ackels: "I don't have any problems with the way they're maintained. I think they do a pretty good job."
The fees take effect when the new city budget kicks in in July.
The city's looking at a variety of other ways to pump up the golf budget. It will also explore the idea of having a private company run the courses.