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Manteca golf course bucks trend, sees increased play
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The poor economy is finally catching up to golf courses and California is definitely one of the hardest hit states with many closures. Locally we have seen several public golf courses close their doors with others up for serious consideration.

Recently the City of Modesto announced that they more than likely will be closing one of their municipal golf courses in the near future. Cities, just like private business, can only financially support an enterprise for so long until they finally realize there is no light at the end of the tunnel, even if it’s in the name of a recreational subsidy. Their limited funds have to be prioritized and go to more important things such as police and fire departments.

An informal survey shows that every public golf course in the valley has experienced a decrease in play and revenue for the past several years with the exception of one, our Manteca Park Golf Course. We have seen increases in play and revenue for several years running and continue to be No. 1 in annual rounds with 71,000 golfers patronizing the course.

Now the reasons are many and varied for the course to be doing as well as it is, but it all boils down to one thing. Our city decision makers (past and current council members, city managers, and parks directors) have done their homework and have simply made good decisions. They are the ones who make the budget decision, put the right personnel in place, set policy and more importantly set rates.

A good example, and the downfall of most city golf courses, is that when a need to increase revenue occurs as has happened often in this recession, just about all cities have an across the board increase in fees charged to golfers. What happens virtually every time is that yes, the golf course generates more revenue per customer, but also experiences a decrease in customers. The net effect more often than not is less overall revenue which is totally counterproductive to their goal.

Now last year, our city leaders determined that an increase in golf course revenue was necessary and made a decision to accomplish this by adopting a new fee schedule which focused on increasing play rather than an across the board fee increase for all golfers. This was done by initiating several new fee categories such as a super-twilight fee and a new fee for weekday pass players allowing them to play on weekends and holidays. And guess what happened? Play increased along with revenue and not one golfer was upset. As a matter of fact, this fee change created a lot of goodwill, something other cities seem to have a problem accomplishing.

I am confident that our city leaders will continue to make good decisions in the operation of our golf course so that we can continue to be the best Municipal Golf Course in Northern California.