A look at municipal golf course costs as Ala Wai driving range reopens

It’s a place that’s often packed day and night, especially when the weather is nice.

Lots of golfers were happy when the Ala Wai Golf Course driving range reopened on Monday, Dec. 5. It’s open from 6:30 a.m. to midnight, except on Thursdays when hours are 9 a.m. to midnight.

The range had been closed for a year during an extensive water quality improvement project.

The $1.3 million project was initiated in December 2015 to improve storm water drainage at the site as required under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) to help protect the water quality of nearby Ala Wai Canal.

A Federal EPA Clean Water State Revolving Fund loan was obtained to help finance a portion of the project. Integrated Construction was selected as the contractor.

The project featured the installation of vegetated bioswales and detention basins to capture, filter and treat storm water runoff generated within the driving range. The seven-acre driving range was fully replanted and a new irrigation system was installed.

Star Beachboys secured the bid to operate and manage the driving range for three years. The company has operated and managed the driving range since May 29, 2009.

We wanted to know how much it costs the city to operate the municipal golf courses.

No doubt golf is a popular sport here in Hawaii, and almost all of the people who play at our municipal golf courses are Hawaii residents.

Of the six municipal courses on Oahu, Ala Wai is the most popular.

At $2.25 million, it also costs the most to run, followed by Ewa Villages and West Loch, which are in the $2 million range.

In all, for the current fiscal year, it will cost a little more than $10 million to operate the city’s golf courses.

So where does the money come from? Green fees, cart fees, the money residents pay for a replacement discount ID card, tournament fees, and concession fees add up to an estimated $9.5 million.

City Enterprise Services Director Guy Kaulukukui said in a statement: “There is no taxpayer subsidy whatsoever to operate our municipal golf courses. If revenue from golf operations do not cover operating expenses, then those operating expenses are reduced to match the existing budget.”

It’s a program that’s essentially self-sufficient.

Estimated costs for FY-2017 per course:

Ala Wai $2,250,923
West Loch $2,016,681
Ewa Villages $2,085,150
Pali $1,524,242
Ted Makalena $1,467,272
Kahuku $309,156
Golf Admin $593,464

Total: $10,246,888

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