Tee Time Broker$

Tee time brokering in the game’s public sector is widespread, but most of the focus on the problem has been on the City of Los Angeles’ municipal system.  And that is why most know that the city quickly adopted two measures to begin mitigating the problem: 1) A $10 non-refundable cancellation fee, and 2) a detailed code of conduct replete with municipal fines and penalties for those who break the rules.

What few understand are the roots of the problem – a problem that like all difficult problems is in part a function of attributes of local municipal golf systems that most reading these words would consider virtues to be cherished and maintained, not jettisoned cavalierly.

So, in a nutshell here are the roots of the “problem” in Los Angeles and to only a slightly lesser degree in California’s other heavily urbanized environments. The National Golf Foundation (NGF) identifies Los Angeles as the most golf starved golf market in the United States – the most golfers chasing the fewest golf holes, and by a very wide margin over the next worst supply to demand ratio in the nation.  There are fewer public golf courses today than there were 50 years ago, when the population of the region was much smaller and the percentage of the population that played golf was a smaller percentage thereof.  Once dotted with “daily fee” golf courses (privately owned but open for business to the public facilities), Los Angeles is now home only to very pricey private country clubs and municipal golf courses (publicly owned parkland facilities), with one exception – a golf course in the rural northeast corner of the city (Tujunga Wash) that sits literally in a riverbed (Angeles National GC).

The City and County of Los Angeles as well as Long Beach and a few of the region’s smaller municipal systems (e.g., Pasadena, Burbank, and Downey) don’t set their public parkland golf course greens fees per a market mechanism that would literally turn these publicly owned parks into playgrounds for the privileged, but rather set fees that recover costs, create the capital reserve funds necessary to allow for infrastructure replacement through user fees as opposed to tax dollars and bonded indebtedness, and in the cases of the big three in Los Angeles County (LA City, LA County, Long Beach) and Pasadena, provide revenues over and above all that for use by park departments (LA City and County), general funds (Long Beach), and an old college football stadium (Pasadena – Rose Bowl).

Few would deny that Los Angeles and other municipal programs in the heart of Los Angeles County have been slow to address the problem.  However, before suggesting indifference as the reason, it may make more sense to conclude that they just held on too long to a set of values about affordability, accessibility, special dispensations for youth and schools, and a vision of their publicly owned golf properties as public assets to be enjoyed in the same way as every one of their other park/recreation assets.  Now, they’re bending the little bit necessary to maintain as much of that laudable package of values as possible.


Director, Public Affairs

Southern California Golf Association

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