Study finds only full 18-hole options for golf course restoration economically viable
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – Dozens of jobs could be at risk under two of the five scenarios being considered for an environmental restoration project at Lake Tahoe Golf Course, according to a recently released economic study.
The feasibility study, which is included in the draft environmental document for the Upper Truckee River Restoration and Golf Course Reconfiguration Project, finds the only economically-viable alternatives are those that retain a full-length, 18-hole golf course.
The environmental document for the project analyzes five alternatives, ranging from leaving the golf course the same to completely removing it.
Alternatives that would shorten the layout of the course to nine holes or an shorter “executive” 18-hole course, move several holes from next to the Upper Truckee River into Washoe Meadows State Park or add additional erosion control measures to the river while keeping the course layout the same are also detailed in the document.
State park officials are expected to choose which option to pursue following the conclusion of the environmental review process.
People who use Washoe Meadows State Park and nearby residents have raised concerns about moving nine holes of the golf course into the state park, while golfers have objected to alternatives that would dramatically change the layout of the course.
The primary goal of the project is to reduce the amount of fine sediment and nutrients entering the lake from the Upper Truckee River. Lake Tahoe’s clarity has been in decline for decades because development throughout the Lake Tahoe Basin has allowed more fine sediment and nutrients to enter the lake.
Maintaining $881,000 of annual income to the California State Park system from the golf course is also among the stated goals of the restoration project. The course is in the top five revenue generating areas for the park system and helps pay for the operation of other state parks in the Sierra District.
The course logs more than 22,000 visits and generates about $6.1 million in visitor spending at the South Shore each year, according to the economic feasibility study.
“These revenues would be lost if the golf course closed, and reduced to between approximately $3.5 million and $5.2 million with a reduced-play area (non-traditional length) course,” according to the study.
A nine hole or executive length course would result in the loss of 55 jobs between the golf course and other South Shore businesses that benefit from visitor spending, according to the study, which questions whether a nine hole course or short 18 hole course could survive at all.
The feasibility study finds a shorter golf course would be economically unrealistic “under all but the most optimistic of circumstances.”
“If the reconfigured golf course can achieve more than 25,000 rounds annually and command green fees above the median rack rate for comparable Tahoe non-traditional length facilities, it may be financially feasible; however, the concessionaire’s net revenues would be marginal, making the golf course susceptible to closure,” according to the study.
Complete removal or closure of the course would result in the loss of 168 jobs at the South Shore, according to the study. Seventy-six of the jobs would be at the golf course, and 92 jobs would be from other businesses that benefit from visitor spending.
“Earnings by employees generated elsewhere in South Shore by visitors to (Lake Tahoe Golf Course) are estimated to decrease by $287,000 to $880,000 annually with a reduced-play area (non-traditional length) course, and $2 million with no golf course,” according to the study.
“The loss in earnings associated with these jobs is approximately $2.7 million, which is money no longer re-circulated within the local economy,” the study continues.
Public site tours of the golf course and an open house on the restoration project are scheduled for later this month. The draft environmental document is open for public comment until Nov. 4.
For more information on the project, including how to comment, visit: http://www.restoreuppertruckee.net.
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