Portlands Colwood Golf Course
Portland's Colwood Golf Course Portland Parks & Recreation

The city's public golf courses are hemorrhaging money.

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Polyrhythmics with Mesitzo Beat at Aladdin Theater on November 22

According to a new city audit, decreasing revenues, unaddressed maintenance issues, and withering public interest in the sport has left the "long-term viability of the golf program is in question." That's despite the city pumping an extra $800,000 in taxpayer dollars into the program three years ago.

The revenue problems detailed in the golf audit, dropped the same day City Council will vote on its annual budget, mirrors issues plaguing the entire Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) program, which oversees the city's five golf courses.

The proposed 2019-2020 budget sets the golf program's budget at $9.7 million—4.3 percent of the total PP&R budget. In comparison, the amount of funding Mayor Ted Wheeler has introduced to "bridge" the massive gap in PP&R's budget and temporarily keep several community and recreation centers open is $3.9 million—1.7 percent of the total parks budget.

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City Auditor's Office

The audit concludes that the current golf program lacks long-term financial stability.

"[The city] has taken steps to decrease costs and increase use of the city’s courses, but despite these improvements, financial risks remain," the report reads.

But Adena Long, PP&R director, doesn't see it that way.

In her response to the audit report, Long curiously called the golf program a "self-supporting business model"—a statement soundly debunked in the audit.

"While maintenance of aging facilities remains a challenge, the Golf Program continues to be a good investment for Portlanders," writes Long in a response to the audit report. "PP&R’s courses consistently generate operating surpluses."

However, the audit tells a different story, claiming that the 2016 transfusion of $800,000 into the golf budget "stanched three consecutive years of net operating losses."

The audit recommended PP&R present a longterm financial forecast to City Council that addresses its budgetary gaps. Despite appearing unfazed by the golf program's grave financial problems, Long said her department is committed to following these recommendations.