Denver Golf Lacks Plan, Hasn’t Prioritized Repairing Safety Hazards

Published on September 21, 2021

Golfers in golf carts driving across a golf course.

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DENVER – Denver Golf will not take standard steps to ensure a strong future and the best experience for all golfers, according to a new audit this month from Denver Auditor Timothy M. O’Brien, CPA.

“My team found issues ranging from safety hazards on courses to lost opportunities for maximizing revenue,” Auditor O’Brien said. “However, what concerns me most is Denver Golf’s refusal to take some of the most basic steps like setting goals and creating a strategic plan to secure the future of the public courses.”

Not only does Denver Golf not have a strategic plan, management said they did not think developing one was a worthwhile investment. Management said they prefer a more fluid approach and that documentation is mostly an unnecessary hindrance. The director said goals with attached timelines are neither necessary nor helpful.

The purpose of a strategic plan is to proactively shape an organization’s future rather than merely reacting to current challenges or problems. City agencies across the city all have strategic plans, helping to keep them on track and accountable to the public they serve. Strategic plans also incorporate long-term financial planning to help match available resources with future goals. 

“This is simple stuff,” Auditor O’Brien said. “Golf management lacks a documented vision and plan, meaning the future success of public golf courses is at risk.”

Golf disagreed with our recommendations to develop plans and measurable objectives, which would make them more transparent and accountable to the public. Golf also lacks an overall written plan documenting its approach to capital improvement planning, but Golf disagreed with our recommendation to make one.

The audit team also found several other areas of concern, including safety and aesthetic issues at certain golf courses which may negatively impact customer experience. Although we found the overall condition of Denver’s golf courses appeared satisfactory, some specific issues stood out.

At Evergreen, Kennedy, and Overland golf courses, we found safety issues involving storm shelters that had exposed nails, loose bricks, and loose roof tiles which could result in potential injuries.

 
Evergreen Golf Course storm shelter
  
   Overland Golf Course storm shelter
 Evergreen Golf Course Storm Shelter    Overland Golf Course storm shelter

 

Aesthetic issues included graffiti, rusting railings, and cracked or peeling paint.

At Wellshire Golf Course, we noted dead and dying trees. At Evergreen Golf Course the audit team spotted a debris pile near one of the holes. And at Kennedy Golf Course they found peeling paint and rust.

“Dead trees are unappealing to look at, but more importantly could present a future safety risk if broken limbs get picked up in wind or a storm,” Auditor O’Brien said. “These should be pretty quick fixes and I hope to see Golf prioritize them in the future.”

 Broken tree limb at Wellshire Golf Course
 Broken tree limb at Wellshire Golf Course
  

Upon review, we learned that Denver Golf was aware of some issues we identified but has not prioritized fixing safety risks such as rusty nails and loose tiles at storm shelters. These risks could result in injuries and subsequent litigation.

Denver Golf did agree to all of our recommendations to improve golfer safety and course aesthetics.

Other areas of concern included problems with the golfer loyalty system and lack of integration between the credit card system and cashiering system. There are duplicated loyalty accounts that make the sign-in process cumbersome. Golf’s system also lacks the functionality to charge customers who do not show up for their tee time.

We recommend integrating the credit card system and charging for no-shows. We also recommended better monitoring of refunds and rain checks. Golf agreed.

“Golf management treated many of our recommendations as minor issues,” Auditor O’Brien said. “But as of now many remain unresolved. I will look forward to following up on this audit and hope to see significant improvement.”

Denver Golf is a city enterprise that runs public golf courses and operates like a business to fund its own operations. The city has eight golf facilities and the enterprise is part of the Denver Parks and Recreation department, although it does not have general fund dollars directly allocated to it. Lost revenue from missed tee times could have been used to support fixing the previously described maintenance issues.


Timothy O'Brien Official Headshot
AUDITOR TIMOTHY O'BRIEN, CPA
Denver's Auditor


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