MISSION VIEJO : College Celebrates Golf Driving Range

Saddleback Community College officials are celebrating the imminent opening of a $2.4-million state-of-the-art golf driving range and physical education facilities at Saddleback College.

"After years of planning, it is gratifying to see the completion of facilities, constructed without tax dollars, that will benefit our students, the community and the district," Chancellor Richard Sneed said.

The new facilities--which will open to the public by the end of the month--will include a lighted golf driving range, a chipping area, two putting ranges, a pro shop, a 2,200-square-foot classroom building with faculty offices, equipment storage areas, restrooms, additional parking, and volleyball and softball fields for day and evening use.

Funds to build the 16-acre campus facilities came from certificates of participation, a process similar to raising money through the sale of bonds.

However, the facilities still came under fire by some faculty members and trustee candidates this fall, who said college officials should have been focusing more on restoring funds cut from academic programs.

Officials say the facilities, near the campus football stadium, will serve about 1,000 students who take golf classes in the district each semester.

Part of the driving range also will be open to the public. Golfers will pay $4 to $6 to hit a bucket of at least 70 balls.

Officials say the facilities will raise about $145,000 a year. Profits will be used to pay for the construction costs and educational programs.

The Donovan Golf Management Co. of Orange County will operate the range.

Since 1975, district officials have been talking about building a driving range that could be used by students and the community, and various efforts were made at different times to get the project going.

In November, 1989, Sneed convened a 10-member golf driving range committee, which helped get the project built.

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