Salt Lake City Golf Courses Facing Deficit

May 12, 2014

Salt Lake City is grappling with how to keep its golf program economically sustainable without injecting taxpayer dollars. Options include closing down one of the city’s eight public courses. City officials say golf is less popular than it used to be, which is making it difficult for the program to continue paying for itself.

In his 2014-2015 budget proposal Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker called on the city council to address the deficit the city’s golf courses are facing. In the past, the program has not required any public funding. But the Florida-based consulting firm National Golf Foundation found in a recent study that the city’s program was no longer sustainable.  Consultants suggested a number of options, including closing down the Rose Park Golf Course. 

Art Raymond is a spokesman for Mayor Becker

“We have a very wide range of potential possibilities that really go from closures certainly, to finding efficiencies, to making more investment in the system and kind of everything in between,” Raymond says.

David Terry is director of Salt Lake City’s golf program. He says golf courses provide value beyond the bottom line that people aren’t seeing, noting less than half the $800 million golf brings to the state every year comes from user fees. The rest of the economic impact is secondary. Terry says golf courses in Salt Lake City indirectly pump more than $20 million into the economy.

“We just want to make sure that government entities are looking at the big picture when they make these decisions, no different than they would funding a recreation program for kids or adults or parks or any other organization or operation within their city that may not be self-sustaining, but provides a bigger picture economic benefit for the city directly and indirectly,” Terry says.

Raymond says the administration plans to work with the council in the coming weeks to ensure the courses continue to be self-sustaining.