Tucson golf making money but is it enough

Fate of golf courses in Tucson

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - A new financial report shows Tucson’s five golf courses are making money. But not all of them.

Randolph Park, home to the city’s premier golf course is still doing well which is holding up the $7.4 million enterprise.

An analysis shows the golf utility operations made a $200,000 profit, depreciation and interest puts the final tally in the red.

However, an operational profit is better than the losses over the past few years.

“I’m really happy that we’re in a much better financial place with golf,” said Regina Romero, city council member representing Ward 1, home to El Rio and Silverbell golf courses. “But we need to have more conversation about the capital needs.”

A sentiment echoed by Ward 6 council member Steve Kozachik who warned those needs are coming in the next two or three years.

A report issued last year shows the courses are still in need of $20 to $22 million in capital upgrades such as new irrigation systems and roof tops.

And while there is some profit, its unlikely to end the talk of whether to close a golf course or two.

That job is made more difficult because some of the money used to develop Silverbell on the west side and Fred Enke on the east side came from the federal government.

To close the courses would require an alternative approved by the National Parks Department, which could be hard to come by.

Tucson turned over its golf enterprise to a Tucson group, OB sports, nearly three years ago. OB Sports is a professional golf management operation based in Scottsdale. It manages golf courses in more than a dozen states including California and Texas.

And even with a small profit, the outlook becomes a bit grimmer going forward.

“We’ve hammered it in,” said Romero “We want to make sure golf is paying for itself.”

The margin is narrow. Golf took in $7.4 million last year, while it spent $7.2 million.

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