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Golf income rebounds after rainy start to 2023

By Sam Richards

Staff writer


Heavy, persistent rains may have kept golfers indoors in January and February, but with the reemergence of the sun in recent weeks, the number of rounds played on Rossmoor’s two golf courses has quickly rebounded.

The return of players to the Dollar and Creekside courses has helped GRF regain much of the money it lost earlier this year when the rains kept the rounds down. Mark Heptig, GRF’s director of golf, told the GRF Golf Advisory Committee on May 12 that, as of early May, golf rounds were down 44% this year from the same early stages of 2022. But that figure indicates a positive trend; by that same measure, in March, rounds played were down 60 percent from the same month in 2022.

The reason for the rebound was as clear as the blue skies that returned to the region for most of April.

“It’s amazing that when the skies part and the sun comes out, the players come back, and that’s what happened in April,” Heptig told the committee. The number of rounds played on Rossmoor courses last month is only 20 to 30 fewer than recorded in April 2022, a month Heptig called “sensational.”

The overall golf “play revenue” figure for the first four months of 2023 was down about 17 percent from what it was during the same period in 2022. That card/pass sales – which make up a substantial share of golf revenues – were down so far in 2023 by only 1 percent helped make up for the fewer rounds played.

Overall, golf play revenue of $601,434 was under budget by $125,234.

Golf Shop sales, however, reflected the lower number of rounds played, down about 38 percent for the first four months of 2023 over those same four months in 2022. Total Golf Shop revenue of $110,353 was under budget by $61,173.

The May weather this year has been spotty, Heptig said, which could hinder hopes of catching up to 2022’s strong performance by summer.

“We hope we’ll close that gap, but we’ve been seeing some strange weather,” said Heptig, who also noted that the July 4 holiday lands on a Tuesday this year, meaning the course figures to be open on Monday, July 3.

While the rains have cut down on green fees revenues, Heptig said there’s a silver lining in that GRF has not had to purchase any East Bay Municipal Utility District water so far in 2023. Tice Creek’s flow, he said, has been steady enough to allow the golf course pond to stay full to this point. He said it is quite possible the EBMUD valve won’t have to be opened at all until mid or late June.

What to do about the Hole 3 landslide?

Meanwhile, the question of what will be done with the significant landslide that altered the physical makeup of Hole 3 on the Dollar Ranch course remains uncertain, pending a geotechnical study of the slide area, Director of Community Services Ann Mottola told the Golf Advisory Committee.

“We really don’t know what we’re dealing with until (the geotechnicians) do their work,” she said of the study commissioned by Rossmoor to analyze the situation.

Some folks at the meeting, including Heptig, said leaving the slide area as it is may be the wise course of action if full repairs figure to be too expensive, and the threat of future landslides looms.

“We don’t know when (another) slide could happen,” said committee member Ted Bentley, adding that he expects to see a full report on possible fix options by the start of 2024.

“It will be interesting to see what they say our options are,” Heptig said.

Conduct unbecoming

Chief golf course Marshal Richard Fuller told the committee that, during the Rossmoor golf clubs’ May 4 Cinco de Mayo Tournament, there were at least two incidents of male players urinating on the greens on which they were playing. It didn’t go unnoticed, either, at least by one group of women golfers at this co-ed tourney.

“They had their arms up like this,” said Fuller, recreating a shrugging-type motion, “wondering what I was going to do about it.”

Public urination is a misdemeanor under Walnut Creek city code.

Heptig said he may know who the culprits are, and that he would speak to them about such on-course behavior.