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 Council voted 7-0 Tuesday to accept a performance audit of the Park & Recreation Department’s Golf Division, which recommends the implementation of an online reservation system.

The three municipally owned and operated courses — Torrey Pines, Balboa Park and Mission Bay — contribute 10 percent of gross revenues and around $1,800 per acre into the city’s general fund, amounting to about $2.4 million combined annually, Matthew Helm of the City Auditor’s office said.

The bulk is generated by Torrey Pines, which hosts the annual Farmers Insurance Open, because the other two courses lose money, Helm said.

Seven other courses are owned by the city but leased to private operators. Helm said they bring in $2 million a year combined.

According to the auditors, the most important thing the Golf Division can do to improve its performance is establish an online reservation system.

Golfers can reserve tee times over the Internet at most courses, but not at those run by the city of San Diego.

Helm said a recent survey found that 60 percent of golfers use an online tee time service, but that figure is probably low.

An online reservations system could be implemented by September, Mark Marney, the city’s deputy director of golf course operations, said at a previous meeting.

The audit also found that the division needs to improve its point-of- sale and cash handling systems, and create a marketing plan.

Amid recent news reports that the public’s appetite for the sport has tailed off because of its cost, difficulty and time-consuming nature, some area courses have taken to offering discounts that are below-cost, Marney said.

He said the city’s golf courses are differentiating themselves by offering a consistent experience among their courses, which has been well-received by patrons.

The city plans to refurbish the clubhouse and parking lot at Balboa Park, rebuild the North Course at Torrey Pines, and improve lighting, electrical and irrigation systems at Mission Bay — the only course lit for night operations, Marney said.

The city’s leased courses are Carlton Oaks, Fairbanks Ranch, Mission Trails, Presidio Hills, Pro Kids Golf Academy, Tecolote Canyon and Vineyard.

— City News Service

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