A bid to give a game called footgolf a trial run on Rohnert Park's Foxtail Golf Course is being held up by city officials who say the course is not being taken care of properly.
"It was an opportunity for us to take a look at one of our biggest assets and see how it's being maintained or not maintained according to our contract," Mayor Joseph Callinan said this week, explaining why he rejected for now the proposal by CourseCo, which runs the 36-hole, city-owned course.
The Petaluma-based company signed a new, 20-year lease with the city in 2012. It hopes that the game, played with soccer balls but according to golf rules -#8212; yes, the sport has its own international association -#8212; will boost Foxtail's profile and draw in younger customers.
"It's consistent with our efforts to attract more people to the game of golf and get the most use as possible out of the property for recreational purposes," Tom Isaak, CourseCo's president, said this week.
The company pays the city $50,000 a year plus a percentage of revenues. Last year, that total was $76,955, about $10,000 less than projected. In November, the company held a practice footgolf tournament with about 50 people, an event that company officials considered a success and prompted their request to test the game more.
But at a Jan. 14 council meeting, Callinan, the sole golfer on the dais, commandeered the occasion of the company's presentation to also present his own slideshow of unkempt areas of Foxtail's south course.
"I'm not against footgolf, don't get me wrong," he said to Isaak. "But it's the only leverage we have, is to make you maintain it and before we give you more privileges I think we need to ... address it."
Isaak said an antiquated irrigation system was the problem, and that there is no money to replace it. He also conceded the course was not in good shape.
"We're not proud of conditions on the south course," he said.
Councilwomen Gina Belforte and Pam Stafford agreed with Callinan that any green light for footgolf should wait until a survey of the course's conditions, due soon, is reviewed and a strategy for maintenance is developed.
Vice Mayor Amy Ahanotu and Councilman Jake Mackenzie said the company should be allowed to go ahead with its plan.
CourseCo, which has 24 other courses, has managed Foxtail since 2001. It renegotiated its lease in 2012, saying it had lost $4 million running the Rohnert Park links.
Its contract with the city requires it to perform repairs and maintenance.
"I think there's some aspects of the lease that we need to do a better job with, of making sure that they're being held accountable," said City Manager Darrin Jenkins.
(You can reach Staff Writer Jeremy Hay at 521-5212 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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