Golfers who want Modesto's Municipal Golf Course to survive a sub-par city budget should hit the fairway.
If the city can take in enough revenue from green fees, it won't have to consider closing the nine-hole Muni course, said Julie Hannon, director of Parks, Recreation and Neighborhoods.
The city is trying to make up a $300,000 shortfall in its golf fund this budget year. To help hit itself out of the financial sand trap, Modesto raised fees July 1 at Muni and its two 18-hole courses, Dryden and Creekside.
Now a weekday round at Muni costs $17.50, up from $13. A weekend round at Creekside costs $31.50, up from $29.50.
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So far, the fee boost has helped the city take in an extra $24,230 in green fees. But the city needs more than that to fill in the holes in its golf budget.
"Golf more!" Hannon said. "Our maintenance costs are what they are. If we can get the rounds up, then we'll be in better shape."
Last month, the City Council approved cuts at all three courses to save $102,715. The city is putting off buying new equipment such as tractors and sprayers and reducing tree maintenance, among other cost-cutting measures.
In January, Hannon will bring another menu of possible golf cuts to the City Council's Finance Committee. Options include closing Muni and hiking fees again, Hannon said. The city might consider keeping Muni partially open for the First Tee youth golf program.
Golfers teeing up at Muni Wednesday afternoon said they didn't mind this year's fee increase
and hadn't noticed a dropoff in maintenance.
Closing the course would be a loss, they said, adding that Muni has many advantages:
It's a convenient walk-on course close to home, said Jason Flores.
Golfers don't have to schedule tee times and there's no membership fees, said Ruben Martinez.
Flat and easy to walk, it's ideal for senior players, said Mike Kiyoi.
"I'd hate to see it close," said Cliff Hutsell, 52, a driver in his hand.
He plays at Muni two or three times a week. It's only nine holes, and he easily can squeeze in a round after he leaves work in the early afternoon.
"I'd hate to see it close," Hutsell said. "I know money's tight, but you're taking entertainment away. We need to keep that. You hit this little ball and get your aggressions out."
Bee staff writer Leslie Albrecht can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2378. Follow her at (a href="http://www.twitter.com/beereporter" target="_blank> twitter.com/beereporter.