Wednesday, June 20 , 2018, 12:29 pm | Partly Cloudy 67º


Local News

Vandenberg Air Force Base Golf Course to Partially Close

Marshallia Ranch to halt rounds of golf, but driving range, putting green, pro shop among areas that will remain open

The Marshallia Ranch Golf Course will stop offering rounds of golf this week after nearly a decade of the facility losing money, officials said. Click to view larger
The Marshallia Ranch Golf Course will stop offering rounds of golf this week after nearly a decade of the facility losing money, officials said.  (Staff Sgt. Shane M. Phipps)

The Marshallia Ranch Golf Course at Vandenberg Air Force Base, once host to many military tournaments and special guests, will partially close on Thursday.

The 18-hole golf course, operated by the 30th Force Support Squadron, will stop offering rounds of golf due to financial woes blamed on increased costs of maintaining and watering the grass. 

“We are continuing to explore options for returning golf to Vandenberg,” Col. Chris Moss, 30th Space Wing commander, said in a written statement.

“There are opportunities out there and we are actively working to pursue them. But the challenges are significant as any solution we find will have to deal with the extraordinarily high price of water.” 

The facility is one of several operated under what is known as morale, welfare and recreation activities — aimed at giving military members a low-cost option for support and leisure including fitness, child care, recreation and more.

Those so-called MWR facilities use non-appropriated funds, or non-taxpayer money, that comes from what users pay.

However, Vandenberg officials say the high cost of maintaining Marshallia has put the base’s MWR fund in danger of going bankrupt.

“We are taking immediate action to ensure we are good stewards of our funds,” said Josie Cordova, 30th Force Support Squadron deputy director, in a written statement.

For nearly 10 years, the funds raised to operate the golf course have not overcome rising water costs. 

“This has begun to drain funds not only from the Marshallia Ranch Golf Course, but the entire MWR fund, at a rate that is leading swiftly toward bankruptcy,” Cordova said. “When the MWR fund is in danger of bankruptcy, that threat includes potential closure of our other base support functions.”

Once restricted to military members and retirees, Marshallia Ranch became available to all golfers in 2005 as operators tried to boost its use and its finances amid the declining number of rounds.

In 1992, the Air Force joined other communities to purchase state water. However, base officials said that the price of State Water has risen nearly 500 percent over the past decade.

This has meant spending hundreds of thousands of dollars per year in grounds maintenance, a cost that exceeded revenue.

However, the putting green, driving range and practice area will remain open, Vandenberg officials said.

Additionally, The Pro Shop will remain open on trial basis while the operators determine whether it can remain profitable even if rounds of golf aren’t allowed.

“The wing’s objective now is to continue to provide a limited golf functionality to our installation and surrounding community, while sustaining our other services and potentially growing new offerings from our current facilities,” Cordova said.

The course, touted as the “Best Kept Secret,” the course reportedly was designed by Bob Baldock and opened in the late 1950s. 

The Marshallia Ranch course sits near the oldest building on Vandenberg AFB — the 167-year-old Marshallia Ranch House.

The golf course clubhouse — home to a pro shop, snack bar, dining room, patio area and locker rooms — received the USAF Citation Award for Facility Design.

“Marshallia Ranch is one of the top golf courses in the military, and has played host to several Air Force and professional golf events,” the facility website says.

“With its blustery ocean winds and frequent patches of golf ball-grabbing ice plant, Marshallia Ranch is both a challenging and rewarding experience for any golf enthusiast.”

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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