An aerial view of the Third, Fourth and Fifth Holes of the South Course at Torrey Pines Golf Club in San Diego, Photo credit: John Mummert/USGA

The city of San Diego’s municipal golf course operations can be improved by enhancing the use of technology and strengthening marketing programs, the city’s auditor said Thursday.

A performance audit of the Park and Recreation Department’s Golf Division recommended establishing automated point-of-sale devices like credit card scanners to reduce employee errors, reducing the need for customers to make multiple payments for different transactions, and offering an online reservation system.

The Golf Division manages courses at Torrey Pines — site of the Farmers Insurance Open this week, Balboa Park and Mission Bay. The division leases seven other courses to private operators.

Under the credit card payment system instituted in 2013, course employees have to both swipe cards and make manual entries.

“Golf Division managers reported that the new credit card processing system resulted in an increase of credit card processing errors due to its reliance on starters manually entering amounts charged to customers,” the audit said. “One golf starter assigned to Torrey Pines explained that the likelihood of making an error increases during high customer volume periods because the golf starters must simultaneously accept payment and ensure golfers are teeing off on time.”

Golfers also have to use their cards several times because different vendors run pro shops, cart rentals, driving ranges and food and drink services.

The audit found that the municipal golf courses are among just a few in the region that don’t offer an online reservation system, instead using a cumbersome telephone-based method. According to the audit, it took 4 minutes and 35 seconds to book a tee time at a city-run golf course, and 1 minute 25 seconds at a nearby competitor’s links.

The city also needs to create a marketing plan and hire staff to carry it out, according to the report. The auditor said marketing is now dependent on events at Torrey Pines and Balboa Park. Without providing specific numbers, the report said demand has softened for area courses.

Parks and Recreation Director Herman Parker issued a memo in which he agreed with the auditor’s five recommendations, and said he is working to resolve point-of-sale issues.

— City News Service

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