The Marshallia Ranch Golf Course at Vandenberg Air Force Base will cease offering rounds of golf effective Sept. 1.
Due to substantial increases in the price of water over the past 10 years, the cost of maintaining and watering the course has skyrocketed. This has placed Vandenberg’s entire Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) Fund at risk 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. “The golf course is entirely sustained by nonappropriated funds, those generated directly from customer usage. For the past 10 years, the funds raised to operate the golf course have not been able to overcome the 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. When the MWR Fund is in danger of bankruptcy, that threat includes potential closure of our other base support functions.”
In 1992, Vandenberg entered into a contract to purchase water from the state of California. This was done to help sustain the water infrastructure of the base and local communities. However, with the onset of the current drought, the price of water provided by the state has risen nearly 500 percent over the past decade. As a result, the golf course has been forced to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars per year simply to water the grounds. These costs have far outpaced revenue generated by the course. In order to prevent the golf course and the entire VAFB MWR Fund from going bankrupt, the base has no choice but to cease offering rounds of golf.
However, in an effort to offer some level of golf at Vandenberg, the putting green, driving range, practice area will remain open. The Pro Shop will also remain open, although on a trial basis while the 30 Force Support Squadron assesses its ability to be profitable without rounds of golf being played at the course.
“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.
“We are continuing to explore options for returning golf to Vandenberg. 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,” said Col. Chris Moss, 30th Space Wing commander.