There’s a big tree in the middle of William Land Golf Course’s signature third hole. And no matter what club a golfer selects, hitting past it can be tricky.
The same applies to turning a profit at a golf course, at least according to Angie Dixon.
She’s executive director of First Tee of Greater Sacramento, the nonprofit that runs the historic nine-hole facility in Land Park, which opened in 1924.
“The golf industry as a whole has kind of taken a downturn, and there’s been a decline in revenues, quite a bit, out at the course,” she told Capital Public Radio this week.
After 20 years, her group wants out of its lease early with the city. Put simply, its losing money.
“It’s caused us quite a loss, and we’re projecting a $150,000 loss for this year,” Dixon said.
The executive director still wants the nonprofit to continue teaching young people the rules and etiquette of golf at the course. But she’s hoping the city can find another group to run day-to-day operations.
She would not discuss negotiations with the city, only to say that the nonprofit wants out of its lease by the end of June and that talks are ongoing. She remains optimistic: “They definitely have some great options,” she said of the city.
Budget woes are not new when it comes to the city of Sacramento’s four public golf courses. Revenues traditionally have not been sufficient to pay for operations. Beginning in 2000, Sacramento began taking out loans to cover operation costs. In 2011, it partnered with Morton Golf LLC to run its courses, but the city still owes $6.9 million in golf-related debt, and says it will have to modify its agreement with Morton to pay it off by 2022.
Still, Mayor Darrell Steinberg remains optimistic about the future of public golf at Land Park. “We cannot shut down city golf courses. No way. Can’t do it. We’ve got to find a way,” he said during Tuesday’s budget committee meeting at City Hall.
First Tee took in more than $1.6 million in revenue to fund its gold-education programming, according Department of Treasury records from 2016. But Dixon says there’s not enough wiggle room in the nonprofit’s budget to continue running William Land, though she doesn’t want to see it disappear.
“The community as a whole really values William Land Golf Course and does not want to see it return to a park space,” she said.
Councilmember Jay Schenirer agreed at City Hall on Tuesday — although he joked that he wouldn’t mind chopping down a certain sycamore on the third hole.
“I’m totally in favor of getting rid of that tree. I’ve hit that tree with every single club in my bag. I cannot figure that one out,” Schenirer said.