Eureka Municipal Golf Course to change hands

Former operator won't renew lease because of slump in industry

Eureka High School golf team members Chance Olson, Matt Dusi, and Garrett McKenzie practice their drives at the Eureka Municipal Golf Course on Wednesday afternoon. Operation of the golf course will change hands and is the subject of an upcoming Eureka City Council meeting. (Jose Quezada — For the Times-Standard)

The Eureka Municipal Golf Course may soon be operated and maintained by the Community Access Project for Eureka, also known as CAPE, a nonprofit that works with the city to provide quality of life programs and opportunities to the community.

Miles Slattery, the city’s community services director, said CourseCo, which has leased and operated the golf course for twenty years, has opted out of their lease after sustaining financial losses for the last several years as the golf industry slumped.

“They’ve been a great partner,” Slattery said.

The issue is up for discussion at Tuesday’s Eureka City Council meeting.

Michael Sharp, president and CEO of CourseCo, echoed Slattery’s description of the last 20 years, and called the relationship a “model partnership.”

“It’s bittersweet to us, we don’t want to leave,” he said. “We put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into (the course). The closing of this chapter is a bit sad for us.”

Sharp said CourseCo has lost over $100,000 in the past three to four years, meaning that as unfortunate as it is, operating the course no longer made fiscal sense. CourseCo has done its best to set the city up for success in the transition, Sharp said, such as selling the city their inventory and equipment “for pennies on the dollar.”

The golf course was originally gifted to the city by Fred Lundblade and Robert Barnum in 1957, according to a city document. The intention at the time was to provide recreational opportunities at a low-cost rate — and Slattery’s department crafted a creative solution to continue doing so. The city cannot currently hire the staff to run the golf course as city employees, so they’ve gone through CAPE instead.

The proposed plan is for CAPE to employ the necessary staff to operate and maintain the course while leasing the course from the city for $1 a year. Slattery said the full-time employees who currently manage the course will stay employed, adding that their experience is a valuable contributor to the success of this move.

Several improvements are slated for the future, and some are already underway. Invasive grass removal, dredging, riparian planting and fairway elevation are all planned elements which Slattery says will both contribute to better drainage and better playability.

“It’s going to make the course more competitive and more challenging,” he said.

Additionally, if the council approves the proposal, the golf course will add another venue for fundraising to CAPE’s resources. According to a city document, “all revenue from the course will go to the operation and maintenance of the course, CAPE programming and improvements to parks, facilities and recreational amenities managed by the Community Services Department.”

If things go awry, Sharp said CourseCo is on perpetual standby.

“It would be a shame if they close the golf course. There are lots of loyal golfers that play there,” Sharp said. “We will still be around if the city needs us — we’re are just a phone call away.”

Philip Santos can be reached at 707-441-0506.

blog comments powered by Disqus