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Better greens bring in more green
Rounds played and revenue are both up at the Manteca Golf Course. - photo by Bulletin file photo

 The Manteca municipal golf course — initially set up decades ago in the hope that it would be self-supporting for day-to-day operations and maintenance — was expected to require an infusion of $320,000 from the general fund for the current fiscal year ending June 30.
But recent revenue trends at the 18-hole course may whittle back the actual money needed to balance the enterprise fund. It also means the proposed city budget for the fiscal year starting July 1 will be reduced to $240,000.
And given the trend, city leaders expressed guarded optimism the subsidy in future years can be reduced further to the point one day no general funds may be needed for day-to-day course upkeep.
The upbeat outlook for the golf course was made during the council budget workshop conducted on Tuesday.
Parks & Recreation Director Kevin Fant and others credited the surge in revenue to increased rounds of play accompanying increased green fees, better green maintenance, a new golf pro, the closure of area golf courses, and even the threatened closure of two municipal courses in Stockton — that won’t be happening now — that prompted golfers to give the Manteca course a try.
To keep the positive trend going, council indicated they favor doing small annual increases instead of waiting for years to adjust green fees to reflect increased operating and maintenance costs.
Councilman Richard Silverman believes that golfers would understand and be able to absorb much smaller increases instead of a large hike every so often.
Mayor Steve DeBrum said he’s received feedback about how well maintained the greens are.
The city will continue that effort by investing in a $63,000 hybrid greens mower/roller in the upcoming fiscal year as a parks and recreation capital improvement project.
Rounds are already 2,000 plus ahead of the 2016-2017 fiscal years with just under a month to go in the current fiscal year. Play reached 43,800 rounds as of last week despite rate increases that went into effect Jan. 1.
The end result of the new changes has been the course generated $17 for an average round of play once all of the various pricing for peak, off-peak and pass play are taken into account. That compares to $14 per round before the rate increase.
The result has been that the city’s 90 percent share of the green fees — the rest goes to the golf pro for operating the course — has increased $110,000 so far over last year’s fiscal year.
Back in December when the council approved the rate hikes staff projected the hikes had the potential of generating up to $108,849 in additional revenues for the city over 2017 on the assumption the number of rounds played stays unchanged. The course is already exceeding the revenue forecast.
In the past year work has been done on various aspects of the course beyond usual maintenance including work on the clubhouse elevator. The City Council on Tuesday is expected to call for bids to replace the two outside staircases at the clubhouse at a combined cost of $100,000. The staircases have sustained dry rot after past 25 plus years.
Major improvements — just as with other park and recreation properties — come for the city’s capital improvement fund.
In the past, the city’s golf course subsidy was $155,000 a year.
The budget message presented by City Manager Tim Ogden and Finance Director Jeri Tejeda noted that general administrative and overhead charges typically charged to various city operations were suspended in the 2007-2008 fiscal year. While staff has prepared an updated cost allocation plan for overhead charges, due to the financial position of the golf course fund the recommendation to continue the suspension of the charges was incorporated into the staff’s budget proposal.
The budget is back before the City Council for adoption on Tuesday, June 19.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email