More golfers would help Callippe | March 1, 2013 | Pleasanton Weekly | |

Pleasanton Weekly

Opinion - March 1, 2013

More golfers would help Callippe

Without doubt, Pleasanton's municipal Callippe Preserve golf course is one of the best public courses in the Bay Area. It just needs more golfers. The course is losing about $1.4 million a year, the amount the city must takes from its fund to pay down the $22 million in bonds still outstanding. With 14 years still to go on the bonds that the city floated to pay for the $34.5 million course that opened in November 2005, some are suggesting that the city should dip into its $25 million capital reserve fund and pay off the bonds. In late 2011, the city became eligible to call the bonds but was reluctant to draw down the reserve in the midst of an economic downturn. Although the city has never had to use the reserves to meet payroll and service requirements, neighboring cities have. Those cities have closed fire stations, reduced workforces and seen their outstanding debts soar.

When Callippe opened, the Bay Area hype over a new golf course brought more than 73,000 players to Pleasanton. During those early years, revenue from green fees and sales in the pro shop more than paid the bond debt. The course has been ranked among the top 10 in California by Golfweek Magazine and in the top 10 of America's best new public courses by Golf Digest. Callippe Preserve also was voted one of the Top 50 Municipal Courses in the nation by GolfWeek. Still, even with those ratings and continued praise from golfers, the number of players has dropped by at least 10,000. This is partly because those who drove long distances to try the course don't make the trip back, and partly, too, because the sport of golfing is declining nationally, but mainly it is because of the economy. Rates were increased two years ago to $53 on weekends and holidays for Pleasanton residents and $64 for those who live elsewhere. Seniors lost their lower rates on the weekends although they can still play weekdays for $27. The green fees are competitive with nearby public courses and probably can't be raised without cutting into the already reduced number playing Callippe.

It's not just golf that brings in the revenue. Golfers spend an average of $62 each time they play, far more than the green fees that are $37 on weekdays for Pleasanton residents and $44 for non-residents. Food has become one of Callippe's favorite attractions, even for non-golfers. Memberships in Callippe's golf club, its Senior Club and Women's 18-hole Golf Club also produce revenue. Special events, including the Spring Event Showcase from noon to 4 p.m. this Sunday, add to the festive and profitable non-golfing schedule. If there's one regret about Callippe, it's that a previous City Council bowed to the demands of those living in unincorporated Happy Valley and downsized the clubhouse. If it had been built as a full-size facility, weddings and community gatherings would probably be paying much more than the $1.4 million extra dollars needed to pay down those bonds.

If Callippe was owned and managed by a private company with $25 million in its bank, the bonds would have been called last year and the debt retired. But the city of Pleasanton has ongoing municipal responsibilities and must hoard its reserves when times are good so they can be used to meet its city responsibilities when they're not. Taking $22 million out of its reserves would mean that the city government might not be able to afford a new fire truck, which the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department needs, or the new hybrid squad cars that Police Chief David Spiller wants. Also, given the ongoing economic uncertainties facing the country -- and Pleasanton -- today, this is not the time to cash in those reserves. Paying down the bonds at $1.4 million a year makes better economic sense to us.


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Posted by txgordo
a resident of another community
on Mar 1, 2013 at 11:19 am

Here's how you raise revenue - lower the greens fees! Then, if you are too crowded, you raise them slightly, until you find the right balance. The article states the the fees are 'competitive', which is clearly a code word for 'higher'. If you raise the greens fees now, more people will seek to play golf elsewhere, and revenues will go down. The economics are simple. I don't understand why, in an opinion piece, that you might not suggest that.

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Posted by Ptowngolf
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Mar 3, 2013 at 8:24 am

Txgordo - you are absolutely right. Love the course but the greens fees are too pricey. My group looks for deals so we can golf more often. We never see any deals here. Callippe is not a country club but they try to act like one.

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Posted by Joe
a resident of Bonde Ranch
on Mar 3, 2013 at 8:44 am

Course to expensive and the staff make you feel like they are doing you a favor. Not customer focused or friendly at all.

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Posted by steve
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Mar 3, 2013 at 4:35 pm

I went up there the other day as a single, they had room told me i was next up , however when i told them that i wanted to only play nine hole ( i had to pick up my kids) The guy in the pro shop said sorry we don't have a nine hole rate ? what
i live in pleasanton my taxes helped pay/paying for the place.
so i went to las positis in livermore they were glad to take my money

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Posted by Homer
a resident of Castlewood
on Mar 5, 2013 at 2:13 pm

what a waste of 5 hours

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Posted by Tennessee Jed
a resident of Jensen Tract
on Mar 6, 2013 at 7:30 am

Contrary to popular belief, Callippe does have a nine hole rate Web Link, as shown in the link. I play golf all over the Bay Area, and find the rates at Callippe to be about what they are elsewhere in the $35-$45 range.

Callippe is not an easy layout, and has what I think are the toughest 3 finishing holes anywhere I have played. This course will challenge every aspect of your game, and demand good use of all your clubs.

Other than slow play with the later tee times, which is common to most all heavily used courses, overall course condition is what matters, as everything else is meaningless once the round is underway.

I am sorry if some have had a less-than-satisfactory experience at Callippe, but I find the folks to be very friendly and engaging.

Now, if they could only do something with those greens...

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Posted by Cs
a resident of Amador Estates
on Mar 13, 2013 at 4:12 pm

The condition of the course is the main problem here. Terrible greens and too much sand in the bunkers don't warrant the price.

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Ridgeview Commons

on Jun 1, 2017 at 8:15 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?