LA County’s golf courses are on par for changes. Think Zumba and Frisbee
The recommendations by the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation were presented in a report to the Board of Supervisors and were approved without discussion Tuesday.
The department compiled the report after Supervisor Janice Hahn last month expressed concern that the county’s golf courses, part of the largest golf system of its kind in the nation, were underutilized. She specifically questioned why the county should spend $7.5 million to upgrade Lakewood Golf Course in Long Beach.
“This is big open space and I think there’s less and less people who are actually taking the time to spend the day golfing,” Hahn said at the Sept. 5 board meeting of the golf courses in her district.
The Lakewood golf course, Hahn pointed out, was across the street from one of the county’s Department of Children and Family Services offices.
“I think that we could look for opportunities to partner with children and family services to expand these courses to give more access,” she had said.
Supervisor Kathryn Barger agreed with Hahn’s concerns and both requested the report.
“I know in our district, we’ve got a golf course that’s losing money,” Barger said, referring to Eaton Canyon golf course in Pasadena. “The vendor can barely make payment.”
Officials with the county’s Department of Parks and Recreation said in the report there are 1.6 million visitors to the courses annually. The 18-hole Alondra golf course in Lawndale logged the most visits, with more than 235,000 last fiscal year. The 9-hole course at Maggie Hathaway in the Gramercy Park neighborhood of South Los Angeles saw the least, almost 12,500 visits for the same time period.
There are 20 courses at 18 facilities across the county. The system generates $15 million for their department, officials said. Of that, $12 million goes back to the county’s operating budget.
“In the last 5 years, golf revenue has increased by 2 percent,” according to the report.
Expanding the use of golf courses is a good idea and was once more common, said Craig Kessler, director of governmental affairs at the 170,000 member Southern California Golf Association. County golf courses are part of the park system, he noted, and should be used by more people.
“It actually harkens back to a previous era, when the golf courses were better integrated in the communities in which they reside.” he said.
Los Angeles County voters last year approved Measure A, the Safe, Clean Neighborhood Parks, Open Space, Beaches, Rivers Protection, and Water Conservation Measure, which place an annual special tax of 1.5 cents per square foot of building floor area on each homeowners’ property. The measure would replace a Proposition A assessment, which is set to expire in 2019.
The newly opened 9-hole, par 3 Don Knabe Golf Center and Junior Academy in Norwalk will be the first to try out the new activities such as foot golf and exercise classes, county officials said.