Analysis and Opinion by Dean Silver

The practice green at Oak Knoll Golf Course

After visiting the failing Oak Knoll Golf Course last week, I contacted a former Parks employee familiar with the golf course.  He gave me a lot more background information that needs to be shared with the public. You can read the background story here.


Parks and Rec Director Michael Black reported that the course earned $29,000 revenue for July and August, which should be the busiest time of the year. In years past, before the deterioration of the course, those revenues have been in the $100,000 range for those months.  This extreme shortfall occurred despite the recent hike in green fees, and is a direct result of the dismal condition of the course.

Condition of the Greens

My contact pointed out that my photos were of the #5 green. I chose that green to document solely because it is the closest to the road.  He informed me that it is in the best condition of all of them.  I can verify that because it has more green grass surviving than the others I could observe, which were mostly grayish in appearance.  He explained that the other greens are primarily compacted hardpan with large patches of black mold. This is a health hazard, no different than being exposed to mold in a home’s walls or flooring.

APR actions have been the source of several lawsuits in which the city has been the defendant over the past few years.  This appears to another serious liability.  Keep in mind that when APR causes a plaintiff to sue, it is the City, not APR, that must defend and pay for the litigation. The city’s insurance rates have recently been raised. It is our tax money that must pay for these lawsuits in the end.

Rebuilding Costs

He confirmed my layman’s opinion that application of water would not revive the greens, that they would have to be completely rebuilt.  Assuming an average diameter of 50 feet per green, the area of each would average about 2000 square feet. There are nine greens plus one practice green, totaling about 20,000 square feet.  A quick web search reports that building greens can cost from $11 to $25 per square foot, and some estimates are as high as $60/sq ft.  A little quick multiplication yields a cost of $400,000 assuming $20/sq ft.  Thus, it could easily be half a million dollars, and potentially much more, just to rebuild the greens.

Rebuilding Side Effects

During the 6-12 months required for the new greens to mature, golfers would be playing temporary greens cut into the fairways. Nobody likes this, and revenue would be impacted catastrophically, on top of the current reductions.  And of course, there is the additional expense of creating those temporary greens.

The Bottom Line

Perhaps half a million dollars to rebuild the greens. Six to twelve months playing on temporary greens.  Potential liability as long as the course is open in its current condition.  No guarantee that there will be enough water to maintain the new greens even if there were money available to rebuild them, which there certainly is not.

It is negligence and poor management that has exacerbated this situation.  The drought and lack of TID irrigation was the source of the problem, but the waste of $72,000 and about 1.5 million gallons of treated, potable city water last summer did nothing to save the greens.

Now APRC has agreed unanimously to Michael Black’s senseless suggestion to apply another $20,000 of potable city water to the greens.  My contact agrees that cannot possibly work, and is a waste, as I surmised and reported last week. Perhaps they should reconsider.

What next?