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Salt Lake City may close Jordan River Par-3 Golf Course

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Wind kicks up the flag on hole No. 7 on the Jordan River Par-3 Golf Course in Rose Park, where few were playing on Monday, May 21, 2012. The golf course is under consideration to close as the Salt Lake City Council has its annual budget deliberations.

By christopher smart

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published May 21 2012 05:25PM
Updated Aug 28, 2012 11:35PM

In the hole to the tune of about $60,000 a year, the Jordan River Par-3 Golf Course soon may close to help keep Salt Lake City’s Golf Enterprise Fund out of the rough.

The nine-hole course in Rose Park only sees about 10,000 rounds a season, according to golf fund manager Dave Terry.

"It’s a great place for beginners to learn golf," City Council Chairman Soren Simonsen said Monday. "But it’s tough to subsidize it year after year. It’s chewing away at a lot of our operating revenue."

The city’s eight golf courses are self-supporting and are not eligible for general fund monies from tax revenues. That means green fees from the other courses, most notably Bonneville, subsidize Jordan River.

"This has been something that has been talked about for a number of years," Simonsen said of the proposed closure. "It’s time to take a serious look at it."

The council will address the proposal Tuesday as it analyzes Mayor Ralph Becker’s proposed $204 million budget for 2012-13.

The plan to close the par-3 is workable, Terry said, because the nearby 18-hole Rose Park Golf Course can accommodate displaced Jordan River players. Golfers play about 60,000 nine-hole rounds at Rose Park annually.

As part of the proposal forwarded by Terry and Rick Graham, the city’s director of public services, Jordan River’s practice area, teaching tee and first and second holes would remain open and free to the public.

"This improved, free practice area," the proposal states, "combined with the soon-to-be-completed expansion of the Rose Park driving range, will result in a first-class practice area we can utilize to develop new golfers at a lower cost to the golf fund."

The rest of Jordan River’s course, about 13 acres, would go to the parks division. A future use of those grounds has not been determined.

Councilman Carlton Christensen, whose district includes the Jordan River course, credited the par-3 for attracting rookie golfers. "It’s forgiving," he said. "But I recognize it hasn’t broken even."

If the council decides to close Jordan River, Christensen said, he wants to ensure a public process would determine future land use.

"The use has to remain open space," he said. "If we look at an alternative use, we have to give people a choice."

The proposed closure comes three weeks after the Federal Aviation Administration advised the Salt Lake City Airport Authority to up the rent on land it leases to the city for the Wingpointe Golf Course. The city has been using that turf under a no-charge lease. The FAA has demanded the airport authority get "fair market value."

Because the city’s $8 million golf fund operates on a break-even basis, any large increase in the lease for Wingpointe would be problematic, Graham warned earlier this month.

The airport authority is in the process of determining fair market value for Wingpointe, Terry explained.

An original 30-day deadline for a lease hike has been extended indefinitely, he said. "We hope something can be worked out."

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