Can Fred Enke avoid a last round?
Photo: Video by kgun9.com
Reporter: Craig Smith
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - The city of Tucson's moving ahead with a plan that may shut down the Fred Enke golf course in the name of saving the other city courses.
Golfers who play at Fred Enke like the way it blends into the desert landscape in a course that really tests their skill and finesse. But the course has been losing money for about five years and it needs millions in upgrades, so the city may turn it into a low maintenance park.
KGUN9 reporter Craig Smith asked golfer C.J. Czosek: "What do you think when you hear city council is moving forward with a plan that could, could result in closing this place?"
Czosek says, "Oh, I'd be pretty devastated about that--traveling another 20 minutes or so to the other city courses. It would be pretty tough."
A tough market for golf has thrown the entire city golf program seven and a half million dollars in the hole. The number of golfers is falling, while new private courses are adding to the places to play.
Now council says Fred Enke must attract enough golfers to be profitable, attract a private contractor to take over, or become a park with a driving range and practice greens but no course.
The course has at least eight months. Because the U.S. Parks Service helped pay for it, the Parks Service must approve any change. That should take at least six months; council's allowing for eight.
Because US Parks Department money is involved the land it would have to stay as some sort of recreational land. It could not be broken up into smaller parcels for commercial or residential development.
The city asked a committee of golfers to look at ways to balance the golf program budget. Chairman Jeff Farkas still has hope Fred Enke will stay open.
"We will see. If we can rally our golfers on the east side and throughout the city to get out there and play more rounds it will help the revenues that we generate for city golf."
The plans also call for changes to the El Rio golf course, perhaps making it a smaller course or a facility more focused towards helping kids learn golf.