The City of Phoenix Answers Your Questions
Recently, the Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department sought proposals from groups to rehabilitate Papago Golf Course. Listed below, are some questions and answers that provide details on the process to restore and renovate this wonderful course.
Question 1: Why is the City of Phoenix seeking a partner at Papago Golf Course?
Answer: Years of reduced funding for maintenance operations and a lack of dedicated capital investment in the course have left the physical condition of Papago among the worst in the system. Currently, the capital required for this project is not available within the City of Phoenix, and there is no indication that these funds will become available in the future. A partner is the best way to restore and renovate Papago Golf Course and ensure we have access to the resources required to replace the irrigation system, renovate lakes, tees, greens and bunkers and improve the practice facility and clubhouse. A renovated Papago Golf Course must continue to provide programs and opportunities for youth and women and golfers of all backgrounds and abilities. At the same time, it must also be maintained and managed to serve the new convention center visitors and tourists. By securing a partner, the City of Phoenix can ensure that the Papago Golf Course will be available for generations of golfers in the future.
Question 2: Why did the Phoenix choose the Arizona Golf Foundation?
Answer: A committee of employees from throughout the city did a thorough evaluation of all the proposals for improving Papago. After a competitive process, the review committee recommended selection of the Arizona Golf Foundation. The Phoenix Parks and Recreation Board has given department staff approval to begin negotiations with the AGF for the renovation and rehabilitation of Papago Golf Course
As outlined in the Request for Proposals (RFP), the City of Phoenix and the Arizona Golf Foundation (AGF) share the common vision of returning Papago to its status as a premier municipal golf course destination, while maintaining the integrity of the original design. We share similar values by focusing on social golf, and growing golf locally, and investing and partnering in the development of youth, minority and women’s golf programs. The City of Phoenix and Arizona Golf Foundation have a long partnership and history of working cooperatively. As a not-for-profit partner, the Arizona Golf Foundation can focus on the golfer’s experience, not just the bottom line. The AGF is in a better position to develop programs for golfers of all backgrounds and abilities and also to continue to invest in the course. The AGF’s relationship with the United States Golf Association will provide the entire golf system access to state of the art maintenance and agronomic resources. The City of Phoenix sees this partnership as much more than a simple business relationship; it’s a partnership of two organizations committed to returning Papago as a premier municipal golf course.
Question 3: How was the AGF selected?
Answer: The Request For Proposal (RFP) is the process used by the City to select, among other things, professional services. It is a committee process, which is monitored closely by the City’s Law Department, Finance Department and City Auditor. All proposals must be reviewed by an impartial committee, with at least three members who must be from Departments outside that which is issuing the RFP. The Papago Golf Course RFP Committee reviewed and scored the proposals, based on criteria outlined to respondents in advance. Respondents had to demonstrate and outline the financial strength of the proposal; expected revenue to the City; operations and maintenance plans; proposed design and quality of improvements to the course, the qualifications of the proposing team and a commitment to continued and future golf programming. As part of this process, the review committee spent six months exhaustively evaluating the initial proposals, conducting interviews, requesting follow-up information and checking references. This process took over six months. In the end, the committee concluded that the AGF proposal was the most balanced and highest scoring. The committee then provided their recommendation to the management of the Parks and Recreation Department. To continue to ensure impartiality, the process does not allow managing departments to accept a proposal other than the one recommended by the committee. The Request for Proposal process has been honed over the years to ensure decision’s are fair and free from outside conflicts of interest and is made by an impartial group without interference from third parties. It has stood the test of time and has proven to be a process built on confidentiality, integrity, fairness and impartiality. No unsuccessful bidder filed an appeal to overturn the decision of the Committee.
Question 4: Will rates at Papago Golf Course go up after the renovation?
Answer: The City of Phoenix is evaluating green fees at all its courses. But rates will go up at Papago following the renovations. The reality is revenues will have to increase to pay-off the debt service of the investment (estimated to be $8.2 million). This would be true even if the City had its own money to invest. The City of Phoenix is currently in discussions with the National Golf Foundation to develop a pricing model for a renovated and improved Papago Golf Course. Although, yet to be approved by City Council, it is anticipated that resident rates at Papago could increase $13 to $15 during the peak winter season and $4 to $6 during the summer season.
Question 5: How much access will residents have following the renovation?
Answer: Local golfers possessing the Phoenix Card will be guaranteed the same number of rounds they have used in the most recent two year period (approximately 16,000 rounds per year). The proposal by the AGF assumes that the Phoenix Card Holder will play approximately 24,000 rounds in the first year of operation after renovation and every year after that. This represents 50.8% of estimated 18-hole rounds played.
Question 6: What is the future of the Papago Men’s And Women’s Golf Association?
Answer: The Papago Men’s and Women’s Golf Association will continue to be a vital part of social golf at Papago. The City of Phoenix and the AGF will ensure that the Men’s and Women’s Club at Papago enjoy the same access they have had in the past. It is important to note that access for these associations must be consistent with access and benefits provided to Golf Associations at the other Phoenix Municipal Courses.
Question 7: How is the AGF going to pay for the renovations?
Answer: The Arizona Golf Foundation plans to secure funding through the Phoenix Industrial Development Authority (IDA). As a 501(c) (3) organization, the AGF has the legal authority and power to use tax-exempt bonds to finance the improvements and capital equipment required to restore and operate Papago Golf Course. Wells Fargo is the financial partner committed to the Papago Golf Course restoration project, and we are optimistic that the AGF can complete the financing for the project in a timely manner. In fact, the Vice President for Wells Fargo was present at the RFP presentation and interview in support of the AGF and confirmed its interest in financing the project. The AGF also has a second potential lender for the project. Johnson Bank has expressed interest in funding the restoration. The preferred financing from the IDA also will take advantage of tax-exempt bond funding.
Question 8: Who will oversee the restoration?
Answer: The AGF has put together an impressive team for restoration of the course. Marvin French will head the renovation team, on behalf of the AGF. Mr. French has more than twenty years experience in golf course management, development and consulting; including public, resort and private facilities. Karl Olson, current Superintendent at Desert Forest Golf Club will provide local agronomic consulting services. In addition to his work as a Superintendent, Mr. Olson has consulted with the USGA in preparation for several championships, including those at Winged Foot Golf Club, Oakland Hills Country Club, Shinnecock Hills Golf Club and Shoal Creek Golf Course and is currently consulting on the fourth golf course at Brandon Dunes. Billy Fuller will be the Golf Course Architect. Mr. Fuller is a construction agronomist and will be the perfect partner with Mr. Olson, guaranteeing Papago will be restored as closely as possible to its original character. Mr. Fuller’s vast resume includes 5 years as Superintendent at Augusta National Golf Course, site of the Masters Golf Tournament. Although no contracts have been signed, the City of Phoenix and AGF are in discussion with Weitz Golf International to perform Construction Management responsibilities.
Question 9: Will the city have approval and oversight during construction?
Answer: Yes, like all projects developed on city property, the Phoenix Parks and Recreation and Development Services departments will have final approval of all constructions plans and project details. The project will require building permits and regular inspections to ensure all work is being done in accordance with plans and specifications.
Question 10: Who will operate and maintain Papago Golf Course when the renovations are completed?
Answer: The Arizona Golf Foundation will have the responsibility for managing the day-today operations at Papago Golf Course, including golf course maintenance. The AGF has not hired its operations staff yet, but it has committed that Marvin French will have sole responsibility within their organization for building and managing the operating team at Papago. The AGF will be required to hire a general manager; a golf superintendent, a food and beverage manager; a director of golf/head golf professional; a merchandise manager; and a sales and marketing manager. In addition, the City Golf staff will continue to be involved in the operations at Papago through the establishment of an Oversight Committee made up of at least (three) city golf personnel. The City of Phoenix will have financial oversight during the entire term of the agreement and will perform regular audits of all financial documents and transactions.
Question 11: What happens if the AGF fails?
Answer: IDA bonds are revenue bonds. This means that the financing for Papago improvements will require NO City of Phoenix real-estate, including any part of Papago Golf Course, buildings or assets, such as carts, furniture and fixtures be used as collateral. The City of Phoenix will continue to own all improvements to the course and none can be pledged as collateral in the future. We fully expect this partnership to be an overwhelming success, but if, the AGF cannot meet their financial obligation to the bank, the Papago Golf Course will stay open and the City and lenders will work jointly to find another operator, including the option of the City taking over operations, so that revenue will continue to flow toward continued payment to the City and the repayment of the debt.
Question 12: What partners will the AGF bring to Papago?
Answer: It is very important to the City of Phoenix that any operator at Papago Golf Course be committed to supporting many of the programs and partners that have worked closely with the City of Phoenix at all our municipal golf courses. No organization out there brought as many diverse partnerships to its presentation as the AGF, including the Arizona Women’s Golf Association, the USGA, the Junior Golf Association of Arizona, the American Junior Golf Association, First Tee of Phoenix, and the LPGA. No other bidder was as sensitive to the potential of Papago as a venue to bring the game of golf to women and youth of all backgrounds through programs designed to maximize the use of Papago for all the citizens of Phoenix.