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(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) With Salt Lake City trying to rescue its golf courses from financial collapse, one option is closing Utah's oldest golf course, Forest Dale, shown Thursday June 5, 2014.
SLC to consider golf course closures, fee hikes, realignments
Red ink » The city’s eight-course system has chalked up $23 million in deferred maintenance.
First Published Jun 05 2014 04:52 pm • Last Updated Jun 05 2014 10:02 pm

As Salt Lake City works to get its troubled golf system out of the financial rough, it will have to do more than just close a west-side par 3 course.

The City Council faces a litany of tough choices that could include closing other courses that are not dependable moneymakers.

At a glance

Salt Lake City Council

The council’s work session is scheduled Tuesday beginning at noon in City Hall, 451 S. State, Room 326. The meeting is for discussion among council members. Although the public is invited, public comment is not accepted. However, the council’s formal 7 p.m. meeting includes a public-comment period. That meeting is held in Room 315. Residents also can make comments on city’s online Open City Hall www.slcgov.com.

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The council’s Tuesday work session agenda tees up options aimed at reshaping the city’s eight-course system that is, by all accounts, financially unsustainable.

The Bonneville Golf Course and the two sets of links at Mountain Dell are consistent winners, according to city officials, and appear safe from closure or modification. Nibley must remain a golf course, according to a 1922 agreement between the city and the Nibley family, which donated the land.

But, according to Council Chairman Charlie Luke, everything else is "on the table."

The council’s ad hoc golf subcommittee has identified three scenarios that could close one or more of the following courses: Wingpointe, Forest Dale and Glendale.

The council already has determined to close the Jordan River Par 3 at the end of this golf season.

The Golf Enterprise Fund is expected to lose $500,000 this season, putting it $1 million in the red after a similar performance last year. Further, the fund’s annual revenues of about $8 million have left about $23 million in deferred maintenance across the system over the past decade or more.

The city’s system also faces a national trend characterized by an overall decline in rounds of golf played each year.

Nonetheless, golfers interviewed at Forest Dale and Glendale seemed dumbfounded at suggestions that courses be closed.

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‘Crazy’ » "We’ve been playing this course for 40 years," said Forest Dale regular Lavar Rueckert. "Closing it would be ridiculous."

"It’s crazy," said Wayne Cederholm,another Forest Dale fan. "I don’t think it’s a good idea to close any of the courses."

Earlier this week, the council got an earful from about 100 Rose Park residents who descended on a City Hall public hearing to admonish the council not to change the 18-hole Rose Park Golf Course.

Among myriad suggestions outlined in a 209-page report from the National Golf Foundation is that Rose Park could be reconfigured into a so-called "executive course," which could mean a shortened nine-hole design.

The council knows that any decision it makes to reduce golf courses would have critics, said Councilwoman Lisa Adams, who is a member of the golf subcommittee. "We are prepared to have people upset with us. Nobody will be happy with these solutions."

But Adams noted that the time is past to hope "Band-Aids" will solve the problems facing the golf program.

"There is real passion about the city’s golf courses, and it gives us heartburn to have to do it," she said. "But doing nothing is not an option. ... The longer we delay, the harder it gets."

Much of the deferred maintenance surrounds aging irrigation systems, clubhouses and restrooms, said Councilman Kyle LaMalfa, who noted that various city departments have been seeking solutions for years.

"We’ve been kicking the can down the road for a long time because it has been difficult for a long time," he said. "When it comes to how do we save golf — it will take a variety of things."

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