OCEANSIDE — After two years of negotiations city council approved Goat Hill Partners LCC, headed by John Ashworth, to take over operations of the long neglected Center City Golf Course on June 11.
“It’s a long time coming,” Ashworth said. “There were a lot of people pulling for us.”
Plans are to upgrade the 72-acre municipal golf course, which is nicknamed Goat Hill because of its hilly terrain.
Ashworth said he sees the project as a service to the community, and golf community.
“The golf course needs a lot of TLC,” Ashworth said. “It’s going to take a lot of work, but at the end of the day it’s a sporty little fun golf course, great driving range, fun little clubhouse scene that can do events.”
“We’re looking to have a green space for Oceanside.”
Renowned golf course architect Tom Doak is on board to design the needed renovations. A decision will be made shortly on a local company to do the work.
Initial improvements to the golf course and clubhouse will be completed within two years.
Total renovations, that include adding a restaurant, community garden, and outdoor amphitheater, are expected to take five years.
The golf course will also be home to the North County Junior Golf Association, a 501C3. Ashworth said the junior golf association is dear to his heart, and how he learned to play gold.
Goat Hill Partners LCC will take over operations July 1, with a two-year agreement, and 30-year extension option, followed by two 10-year extension options.
The city has been loosing money operating the golf course, and has given it minimal maintenance.
Initial costs to upgrade and operate the golf course will be financed by Goat Hill Partners, and funded through voluntary community support.
Annual water costs alone are $100,000. Ashworth said a request would be made to add a well, in order to cut down on costs. Sprinkler heads will also be adjusted to better irrigate the tees, greens and fairways.
Ashworth said some of the stalls in finalizing the agreement were caused by him. Other delays were caused by the city.
The most recent delay came when the city entertained a proposal for a soccer academy and hotel to be developed on the property. Ashworth said that was the push he needed to close the deal.
“I think the timing is right now,” Ashworth said.
The golf course will remain open through ongoing renovations.