Portland golf courses inch back toward pre-recession play

Portland golf courses inch back toward pre-recession play
The clubhouse at the Rose City Golf Course has been accepted to the National Register of Historic Places. (Photo courtesy of the Portland Business Journal)

The intrepid concessionaire at Portland’s Rose City Golf Course pursued a historic listing for the old clubhouse in no small part to generate attention and maybe even grants and donations to fuel an overdue renovation.

Whether it works remains to be seen, but reports that Rose City wants to improve its facilities generated a few reader inquiries here at the Business Journal: What plans are there to update the other four city-owned golf courses? And how are they doing after hitting a financial rough spot a few years back?

The short answer is that Rose City alone has a historic facility worthy of listing on the National Register of Historic Places. The Red Tail, Heron Lakes and Eastmoreland courses, though lovely in their own respective ways, do not.

The longer answer is that the city hasn’t abandoned plans to install a clubhouse at Heron Lake, home to two of the city’s best courses, the Green Back and the Great Blue.

John Zoller, the city’s golf administrator, reports that plans to develop a Heron Lakes clubhouse slowed during the recession, but didn’t die entirely.

The golf course system didn’t want to commit to an expensive clubhouse (with restaurant, bar, pro shop, event facilities, offices and more) without assurances the course would generate enough revenue to cover the cost.

The five city-owned courses operate largely independent of city funds. As independent enterprises, they legally may not tap into tax revenue. Instead, they depend on green fees and revenue generated by pro shops, restaurants and other course-related activity. The city levies administrative fees on the courses to cover its expenses.

The good news for the city golf courses is that revenue is inching back to pre-recession levels.

For the year through June, the courses generated $7.5 million, or $194,012 more than the same period in 2011, its best showing since before the 2007-2008 fiscal year. By course:

  • Eastmoreland, 2425 S.E. Bybee Blvd., generated $1.15 million in green fees and $215,504 in other revenue, or a total of $1.37 million, or $41,808 more than the same period in 2011.
  • Heron Lakes (Greenback), 3500 N. Victory Blvd., generated $1.25 million in green fees and $637,926 in other revenue, for a total of $1.89 million, or $17,963 less than the same period in 2011.
  • Heron Lakes (Great Blue) , 3500 N. Victory Blvd., generated $1.16 million in green fees and $604,036 in other revenue, for a total of $1.77 million, or $95,794 more than the same period in 2011.
  • RedTail, 8200 S.W. Scholls Ferry Road, generated $1.18 million in green fees and $334,205 in other revenue, for a total of $1.52 million, or $40,838 more than the same period in 2011.
  • Rose City, 2200 N.E. 71st Ave., generated $980,812 in green fees and $39,389 in other revenue for a total of $1.02 million, or $33,535 more than the same period in 2011.

The city anticipated 425,000 rounds of golf played on the five courses in its 2011-2012 budget. Play peaked at 630,000 but dropped to about 337,000 seven years ago as competition for players heated up from the region’s overabundance of public and private courses.

The Portland Business Journal is a KATU.com news partner.