Torrey Pine$

Tod Leonard reports on the looming fight over a huge green fee increase at Torrey Pines.

At the top of his list of concerns are the increase in green fees and the funding for a new clubhouse. City Golf Manager Mark Woodward is proposing hiking green fees for residents as much as 57 percent on the North Course by 2011 and 75 percent on the South. Woodward has said the increases will pay for the maintenance of the golf courses, while higher out-of-town rates will fund the new clubhouse. In the proposed budget, $1.2 million per year from the golf enterprise fund would go to paying off the new clubhouse complex.

“The only justification (in the report) for raising green fees is that they are benchmarking against other courses,” Zucchet said. “But let's be honest and say you want to fund a new clubhouse and make other capital improvements. We can disagree that that's a good thing or not, but that's why they're doing it. They want to be able to service a debt they intend to saddle the golf enterprise fund with.”

Zucchet said he is opposed to public funding of the clubhouse, citing the mostly private funding of the renovation of the clubhouse at Bethpage State Park in New York, which hosted the 2002 U.S. Open. He said he also doesn't see enough financial detail in the proposal that justifies that kind of expenditure.

“I'm not aware of any daily users clamoring for a new clubhouse,” Zucchet said. “It's sort of like the Chargers stadium. I would support them having a new stadium if they were paying for it. The people with the special interests at Torrey Pines should pay for the new clubhouse.”