The Jordan River Par 3 Golf Course in Rose Park gets one last Mulligan.
It will remain open through November but then will close permanently.
That was the outcome of an unofficial straw poll by the Salt Lake City Council on Tuesday evening in a split 4-3 vote. Council members Lisa Adams, James Rogers, Luke Garrott and Charley Luke voted to keep the course open through the playing season.
The vote went against the advice of public utilities director Rick Graham, who told the council that closing the course now could save $80,000 a year — the amount the Par 3 now loses annually.
Council members Kyle LaMalfa, Erin Mendenhall and Stan Penfold voted against keeping the course open through November.
Graham suggested turning 13 acres there to open space for general recreation. The course was purchased from the state of Utah in 2002 and has been a consistent money loser, Graham said. According to the agreement, the land must remain open space.
The conundrum comes in the wake of a 206-page report that shows Salt Lake City’s eight-course system to be in a financial sand trip with some $22 million in deferred maintenance. The links, in general, are ragged and amenities need upgrading, according to the report from Florida-based National Golf Foundation.
The golf system operates on a fund independent of the municipality. The golf enterprise fund generates about $8 million a year in green fees and golf cart fees. Graham said the fund is beginning this playing season $1 million in the red.
Council members Adams and Mendenhall said they had security concerns if the area was left open without defined use.
"Until we have a solid game plan, I’m a little hesitant moving forward," Mendenhall said.
Rogers noted it wasn’t fair to close the Par 3 shortly after the course opened for the season two weeks ago. Many groups already have scheduled activities there, he said. "My hope is we can keep it open through the end of the season."
But Graham cautioned the council that changes need to be made to rescue the golf system.
"We could keep [the Par 3] open, but we’re continuing a slide," he said. "We can take this opportunity to make a small plug in a hole that’s getting larger."
Next month, as the council takes up its annual budget deliberations in preparation for fiscal year 2014-15 that begins July 1, it will take a broad look at the golf program and suggestions outlined in the report on how to boost funds.
Among other things, the report recommends boosting green fees at some courses. In addition, it said revenues could be enhanced through marketing, naming rights, donors and partnerships.
The report also suggests that Salt Lake City pump $11 million in the short term for improvements across the system to keep it from deteriorating further.
Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.