Local opinion columnists

Golf course debate seems out of place

By From page A11 | May 25, 2014

I was surprised that of all the issues facing Fairfield in general, such as crime, road maintenance and budget concerns, unauthorized golf lessons in city parks made it to a City Council agenda.

Apparently, unauthorized instructors are providing lessons in exchange for compensation. This might be a concern if they were accepting illegal forms of compensation such as illegal substances or firearms; apparently, the most egregious form of compensation cited were bottles of wine.

Oh my. This scourge must be addressed with laser-like focus; ordinances passed, town hall meetings held and commissions formed.

What constitutes a “lesson”? If my buddy gives me a tip on how to dial in my takeaway and I thank him by buying him a beer, is that considered a lesson? Furthermore, if “illegal” behavior is of great concern on our golf course, let’s look at the loads of “illegal” gambling that occurs on a daily basis. “I’ll bet you $20 you can’t make that shot.” Should we ban skins games on public courses?

Fundamentally, since golf courses are city property, and thus public property, it belongs to the people. If people want to freely and voluntarily associate with each other and exchange goods or services without harming people or property while on public lands, then they shall be free to do that unencumbered by policies and restrictions.

If the operators of the golf course wish to maintain their monopoly on golf services, why don’t they purchase the golf courses themselves? Then they can implement whatever policies they wish to.

Which leads us to the bigger question in the room: Why is a municipal government in the business of managing golf courses in the first place? Perhaps if the golf courses were turning a net profit, of which the proceeds would be invested back into other parks in our community, you could get me to understand.

I don’t believe golf course management is in the scope of government at any level; it is best left to the private sector. This goes double when a municipality is struggling to handle the basics of what we expect a municipality to do (public safety and infrastructure maintenance), and the golf courses themselves provide a net financial loss for the taxpayer.

If you can’t maintain asphalt, you shouldn’t be maintaining grass.

To rehash a plan that has been suggested before: privatize the golf courses. The golf courses are a net loss to Fairfield’s cash flow. By selling off the courses, the yearly loss to the overall Fairfield cash flow would be eliminated. The related bonds would be paid off, relieving our debt load. The proceeds left over could go to purchasing / upgrading parks elsewhere that are accessible to anyone.

It would be great if the proceeds could go to any vital project, but assuming golf courses are parks, California state law states that proceeds from selling off park land can only be used for other park expenditures.

Relax, golfers, this doesn’t eliminate the golf courses; they will still be there, available to be used for the right price, as determined by the market.

This gets the city out of the management of facilities that are not vital. These are top-notch courses; if there is organic market demand to play them, then the courses should thrive, free of municipal oversight. The golf course owner/operator should be thrilled; no one has ever said, “Man, I wish there was more government oversight on my business!”

Reading about “issues” like golf course policy when there are many critical areas that affect a vast majority of residents makes me think there are two distinct Fairfields. Our community faces many challenges, some pressing, some trivial. Let’s get back to focusing on the basics that affect all of Fairfield; one Fairfield.

Brian Thiemer is chairman of the Solano County Libertarian Party. He can be reached at [email protected]

Brian Thiemer


Discussion | 3 comments

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  • Randy WardMay 25, 2014 - 9:36 am

    As one who comments from time to time, the Solano Voices article of 25 May, "If you can't maintain asphalt, you shouldn't be maintaining grass", should be required reading by city staff, elected or otherwise.

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  • Danny BuntinMay 25, 2014 - 8:56 pm

    It is hard to argue with any of his comments.

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  • Danny BuntinMay 25, 2014 - 8:58 pm

    This, coming from a guy who partakes in both courses twilight specials.

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