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Golf course isnt using drinking water
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For those of you who don’t know who I am, my name is Alan Thomas and I have been the PGA Golf Professional at our Manteca Park Golf Course for the past 38 years. It is important to note that it is not my job to play golf every day (or even once a week) but it is and has been my responsibility as a professional in the golf business to operate and promote our course to the fullest potential.

I am proud to say that in a recent study commissioned by the City of Manteca, presented by Environmental Research Associates on our golf course operation, they state we are one of the most popular and best operated municipal golf facilities in Northern California.

Now for the purpose of this column: Yes we are in a serious drought and yes everyone needs to conserve in every reasonable way possible, the golf course included. At the April 7 City Council meeting several comments were made by a member of the public concerning the golf course and water, which I must address.

City staff stated all parks would be cut back in water use but it was understood by some that the golf course may not be cut back quite as much due to its heavy use and being a revenue source. It was stated by this member of the public this was a bad idea and the fairways should be left to dry out and go brown as has happened in other communities. He also stated, “it is certainly is a luxury to play golf” and that the golf course is subsidized in many ways. His message was clear that the City is unnecessarily wasting water on the golf course.

First of all, the golf course has been responsibly cutting back in water use for quite some time and is continuing to do so by restricting water areas that do not come always into play such as the golf range, rough areas between fairways, etc. This is happening even though the water source for the golf course is shallow ground water from wells, not drinking water. Water is pumped into the lakes and then used to irrigate the golf course. When factoring in the principle of percolation where a high percentage of the water used to irrigate the golf course actually returns to the same water table, very little water is actually used. (And the golf course is mostly Bermuda grass which requires much less water than other grasses.)

It is important that the facts of water use at the golf course be put into proper perspective. It is through conservation by thousands of homeowners and businesses along with the recycling the many millions of gallons of clean water which is dumped into the San Joaquin River that will make the biggest impact, and not letting the golf course fairways die which would have no impact on our the water shortage.

Now some golf courses are letting their fairways brown out due to major cutbacks. These courses rely on clean drinking water to irrigate and many have to purchase water at a very high price. Now if Manteca did the same, unnecessarily, just to say it is also cutting back, play and revenue would drop dramatically, something the City cannot afford.

Relating to the comment that “it is certainly a luxury to play golf” that was made by a member of the public. The City of Manteca provides many recreational sources for the community, the golf course being one. If playing golf is a luxury, then playing soccer, skate boarding at the skate park, playing softball at Northgate Park, etc., must also be considered a luxury by this individual.

For the record, thousands of rounds of golf are played at our golf course by seniors and kids annually. Six high school golf teams along with many other high schools use the golf course free of charge. Playing golf is certainly not a luxury but an important recreational source for our community.

As for the comment made by the same member of the public at the City Council meeting that the golf course is subsidized in many ways, let me state the fact once again, in the 50-year plus history of the golf, course revenue has been generated in excess, through green fees (users fees), to pay for 100 percent of all maintenance and operation costs. This cannot be said of the majority of City Parks and Recreation Programs which are subsidized by the City.