PGA asked to increase San Francisco public golf course funding

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JENNIFER HAYASHI of San Francisco enjoys an afternoon game April 25 at Lincoln Park Golf Course.
Photos by John Han

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By Pat Murphy
Sentinel Editor & Publisher
Copyright © 2007 San Francisco Sentinel

Public dialogue went into tournament warm up Wednesday as the City ponders whether to increase public golf course funding despite players voting with their cleats.

Revenues dropped significantly beginning in 2000 as the dot com bust took its toll, and Mr. and Ms. Every Person tantalized less about become the next Tiger Woods.

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In 2007, municipal cost for sustaining five San Francisco public golf courses stands at $1.4 million and is projected to grow to $3.5 million in five years.

And despite an $18 million 2005 renovation of 18-hole Harding Park which landed a national PGA tournament, the tournament ended up costing the City $140,000, Dawn Kamalanathan told a committee of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors yesterday. Kamalanathan serves as Planning Director of the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department.

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Dawn Kamalanathan

Kamalanathan appeared before a 1:00 p.m. Budget and Finance Committee hearing called by Supervisor Jake McGoldrick. Lincoln Park Golf Course is located within District 1 which McGoldrick represents.

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Jake McGoldrick

The hearing was informational only although it put pressure on the PGA to voluntarily increase financial assistance to public golf funding. Standing City contract with the PGA, and contract fees to the City, cannot be altered, according to Parks and Recreation General Manager Yomi Agunbiade.

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Yomi Agunbiade

“If we want to gold plate something and then say, ‘We can’t afford to have it as gold plated,’ and the folks we gold plated it for indeed are saying, ‘We don’t have to pick up the cost’ – I think we have got to have that discussion publicly,” McGoldrick stated.

“I have mentioned before here recently that I believe that the PGA is why we spent that $18 million, and why we reconfigured that golf course, and why we’ve got a problem, that they’ve got to come to the table and help us out as good partners, as good neighbors, as participants in a public operation here.

“And I certainly don’t want to take the ‘public’ out of it… and not see that the dominant focus will become the one that the PGA has in mind, the one that a private operator would have in mind…,”

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Supervisor Sean Elsbernd took issue with McGoldrick assertion that Harding Park was renovated to attract PGA tournaments.

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“You repeatedly made the point that the sole reason, the only reason, Harding Park was renovated was for the PGA, that was the only reason,” responded Supervisor Sean Elsbernd.

“As someone who is a golfer and who played at Harding Park for the last 20 years, I can assure you that the real primary reason was because that course was in bad condition, had received zero dollars in capital investment for decades, and the City was living up to its responsibility for maintaining a golf course, and the PGA was a second benefit.

“I believe the real reason was to take a horribly deferred maintenance situation and give it the capital infusion that was necessary.

“The only reason was not for the PGA.

For his part, McGoldrick altered description.

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“I will in that case withdraw the word ‘sole’ as the adjetival modifier and put in instead the advetival modifier ‘dominant.’

“Dominant, and we will continue with that.”

“I can still disagree with that,” Elsberned rejoined.

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The Board of Supervisors will consider the issue May 9 following Parks and Recreation Commission recommendation scheduled for issue May 3.

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