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Reimagining the Municipal Golf Course

By May 24, 2021 September 23rd, 2021 No Comments
The game of golf has seen a historic rise welcoming the largest net increase in new players in 17 years. Fueled by the pandemic, 6.2 million new players in the United States picked up the irons and opened their wallets much to the delight of golf course operators especially municipal-owned courses.

The Future of Golf

The question remains, are these temporary fans who will put down the clubs as soon as the locks are off the basketball hoops at the park and weekend events fill up the calendar? Today’s player seeks enhanced amenities, and a more inclusive and accessible golf game full of interaction. No name represents this desire better than Topgolf.

Most of us from Southern California have not had the pleasure of visiting one of Topgolf’s state-of-the-art facilities. Luckily, Southern California residents don’t have to wait much longer with two new locations in El Segundo and Ontario opening in 2022.

Now you may be wondering, “Why is Cerrell writing about golf courses and driving ranges?” Besides being fans of the sport, we have proudly partnered with Topgolf for more than five years helping them navigate government and community challenges as they seek to expand their operations in one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world.

We also know a bit about the challenges that city governments face having worked on dozens of communication programs and revenue-raising ballot measures across the region. Cities face increasing pressure to meet the needs of residents, and attract businesses and new jobs while keeping a strict eye on fiscal responsibility.

Making Golf an Asset to Your City

Partners like Topgolf can deliver enhanced revenue over what many existing municipal and county-run courses currently generate. In fact, many of these courses are currently subsidized by city and county government as they operate at a loss trying to maintain aging infrastructure and offer the increase amenities that today’s golfer expects. As just one example, the City of El Segundo has operated The Lakes golf course at a loss to the tune of $275,000 per year, removing crucial dollars from the City’s general fund.

Enter Topgolf. Instead of costing the City of El Segundo $275,000 per year, The Lakes golf course will generate nearly $2 million per year to fund various city services from public safety, parks and recreation, homeless services, youth and senior programs, and repairs to streets, sidewalks and other infrastructure.

Attract Residents and Visitors

Not only will the City see drastically improved revenues, residents and visitors will flock to this new facility sporting a three-level driving range with 102 hitting bays, a revamped nine-hole course with lightning for night golf, two new restaurants, a new clubhouse and patio, all supported by the nearly 400 people this facility will employee. El Segundo residents also get discounts and early access privileges.

We’ve seen a common myth associated with Topgolf – that they are just a ridiculously fun driving range. While we love the chipped golf balls at the driving range that tell you just how bad your slice is, they also improve and operate existing nine- and 18-hole municipal and county courses to provide a full-service golf experience for the most seasoned golfer to the beginner just getting into the sport. While not every location is a perfect fit given various conditions such as property size and proximity to neighbors, where it does work it is a highly complementary fit. Topgolf’s arrival in any city is a win-win for the company, the city and the Southern California community.

About 22 percent of California’s approximately 1,100 golf courses are publicly owned. That is a lot of opportunities for a partnership and an attractive path for many public agencies to consider as they evaluate how they can extract much-needed revenue from an asset that is currently underperforming.

As municipalities consider new ways to add revenues and if the space allows for it, Topgolf can be a viable option. Contact us today to discuss how to get the ball rolling.

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