Opinions

Pearson: Golf meant to be for Sun City members

Posted 9/9/22

“$10 and a cup of coffee” and “the greatest real estate deal since the Dutch bought Manhattan Island” are just a couple of the quotes from Jubilee regarding the purchase of Sun City golf courses.

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Opinions

Pearson: Golf meant to be for Sun City members

Posted

“$10 and a cup of coffee” and “the greatest real estate deal since the Dutch bought Manhattan Island” are just a couple of the quotes from Jubilee regarding the purchase of Sun City golf courses.

The 1977 agreement (Quail Run came two years later) included seven golf courses, a total of 968 acres, a water district system with wells and 194 pieces of equipment. The value was estimated to be worth $12 million.

Del Webb Development Corp. officials always wanted the Recreation Centers of Sun City to own the courses. The company had no interest in owning or running them. The problem was, board members were concerned they would become a “money pit.” The purchase price was too good and adding them as amenities made perfect sense. The agreement contained two provisions — they would remain golf courses and golf would be “revenue neutral.”

Golf has long struggled to break even. Many have argued it shouldn’t have to. This letter has nothing to do with any of that. In fact, golf is too important not to subsidize. There’s more than 4,000 Sun City residents who play golf. The problem is how little the membership knows about the actual costs. It’s been well hidden. That wasn’t by accident.

In April, at the member/board exchange meeting, things changed. Long-time members were complaining about scheduling tee times. The pandemic created an opportunity the RCSC management seized on. Golf was the only game in town and non-residents started flocking to our courses. Turns out, Sun City golf was cheaper than virtually every other golf course around us.

We learned non-residents could buy full play passes at a fraction of the price it would cost them to golf elsewhere. We learned they had access to the web portal for tee times, just like members. We learned the full play passes included golf cars for less money than members could rent them for. Now there’s a question whether outsiders can join small groups (30 or more) and pay a small charge and bypass the lottery.

The RCSC management team will tell you it’s no big deal; that it’s revenue they need. That’s simply a load of horse manure. By the time the Arizona Department of Water Resources 5th water management plan (turf reduction) is completed (circa 2027), the members of RCSC will have invested roughly $100 million in our golf courses and related buildings. That’s not the money collected from golf fees, that’s every member who has paid their PIF and their annual lot assessments to subsidize golf.

What RCSC members should never have to subsidize is golfers living outside Sun City; nor better access to prime time tee times; nor cheaper golf car rental. Those non-residents paid nothing towards that $100 million investment made by members.

At the September member/board exchange meeting you will have the chance to let them know, members matter. Members should always come before those living outside our remarkable community. It’s how Sun City was built and why it was so successful.

Golf, meant, Sun City, members