The River Ridge Golf Course Commission has appealed to Oxnard City Council members not to turn management of the municipal course over to a private firm.
“Any time someone wants to come in and pay you a bundle of money to run your golf course, they’re going to make a bundle of money doing it,” Commissioner David Bedal said at a meeting Wednesday.
The council directed staff last month to hire a consultant to study future revenues and the possibility of leasing the course to a private contractor.
The course, built on a landfill next to the Santa Clara River, is expected to generate more than $100,000 profit on its $1.2-million operating budget this year. A commission task force projects that, under city management, profits could reach $1.8 million to $2.5 million in five years.
In weighing the merits of leasing the course, the council and commission discussed whether the city is running the golf course as a public amenity or as a magnet to attract wealthy people to the county’s poorest city.
Tournaments catering to Los Angeles and San Fernando Valley golfers have pushed out local golfers on many weekends, Bedal said. “I’m really concerned about keeping a golf course for the people of the Oxnard Plain.”
The possibility of leasing the five-year-old course also rankled several golfers playing the course Wednesday.
They called River Ridge the best maintained and most reasonably priced public course in Ventura County, and predicted that an outside firm would increase prices and scrimp on upkeep to boost profits.
“I’m retired, so green fees mean a lot to me,” said Harry R. Mason, 65, who plays 18 holes two to three times a week.
Only two city employees, a supervisor and secretary, are on the course payroll. A concessionaire operates the pro shop and collects fees, another runs the restaurant and snack bar and a third maintains the grounds and clubhouse.
The council did not act on the commission’s request to postpone the outside study because all council members in attendance, except Councilman Manuel Lopez, left before the meeting adjourned.