OCEANSIDE — Goat Hill Park partners renewed their lease to manage the beloved Goat Hill golf course on Oct. 12. Terms of the 30-year lease have been changed to credit the $3.6 million-plus in course renovations the partners have already made.
Ongoing improvements to construct a new clubhouse will be done on the ability to pay.
The addition of a botanic garden, community agriculture garden and outdoor venue with seating for 150 will be completed within three years.
City Council members gave Goat Hill Park kudos for improvements made to city golf course, which was previously minimally maintained.
Upgrades to the 18-hole short course include fairways improvements, reshaped and re-sodded t-boxes, turf reduction and landscaping of hilly areas within the 72-acre grounds.
Changes turned what was deemed an “unplayable dirt track” into a solid, quality course. Golfers have reported a night and day difference.
Other major improvements are piping of reclaimed water for irrigation and a new sprinkler system.
There is also a new roof on the clubhouse, electrical improvements, renovations to the open-air bar, added kids tee boxes, new signage and a new fleet of golf carts.
Councilman Jack Feller asked about future commercial development on the site. Doug Eddow, city real estate manager, said more will be put into the retail component to help the course reach financial sustainability.
John Ashworth is the primary stakeholder of Goat Hill Park, which took over course management in July 2014. Most improvements have been funded by Ashworth and partners out of pocket.
Ashworth said his efforts to stand up for the course are motivated by his love of golf and responsibility to the community.
“Golf is so positive,” Ashworth said. “Parents can spend time outdoors with their kids and grandkids. The lessons and virtues of the game are sportsmanship, honor — all the things society needs to have. I’ll fight to not lose that.”
Ashworth and partners knew course improvements would take a lot of work, and negotiated with the city for two years before coming to initial lease terms.
The golf course was built in 1952 on land that was donated to the city, then redesigned by Ludwig Keehn to be a short course in the 1990s. Its rolling terrain earned it the name “Goat Hill.”
The course continues to boast a friendly, neighborhood feel, panoramic ocean views and the lowest rates to play in the region.