Storm damage recovery

Portland Parks Golf has made progress on all audit recommendations

News Article
Audit Update Image - Photo of Willamette River and Downtown Portland Skyline
This is a one-year follow-up to our 2019 report, "Portland Parks Golf: Changes needed to ensure long-term sustainability."

In 2017 the City’s golf program needed an $800,000 bailout to remain solvent. This prompted our 2019 audit, Portland Parks Golf: Changes needed to ensure long-term sustainability, which looked at whether the golf program is positioned to be financially sustainable and if the program is managed to meet that objective. We found that while Parks had made progress in some areas since the bailout, many of the factors that led to the 2017 funding shortfall remained. We made four recommendations to help ensure the program is viable for the long term.

Portland Parks & Recreation’s golf program took steps to address all the recommendations from our 2019 audit. Many of the steps, however, depend on implementing a new contract for clubhouse operations of the four Eastside courses. The current contracts are set to expire in 2021; Parks plans to take the new contract to Council in the fall of that year.

Recommendation Status: Slow Progress

2019 Recommendation

Present alternative financial forecast scenarios to Council for direction on the future of the golf program that include factors such as:

  • Deferred maintenance;
  • Course improvements;
  • Level of fee support; and,
  • Reserves to weather future downturns.

2020 Auditor’s Status Update: Slow Progress

Parks prepares a five-year financial forecast for the golf program each fiscal year but has not presented alternative financial forecast scenarios to Council. Since the audit was released, Parks drafted an asset management plan for the golf program to address the backlog of deferred maintenance. The total of identified repairs is almost $43 million plus an ongoing annual maintenance cost of $1.9 million. The plan includes a prioritized list of repairs to help guide the use of funds in the next 20 years.

Recommendation Status: In Process

2019 Recommendation

Define the mission for the golf program in contracts and make operators accountable partners in that mission. Operators should share in both risks and rewards. With that in mind, Parks should negotiate contracts that:

  • Ensure revenue sharing is mutually beneficial;
  • Implement strategic initiatives that help increase rounds;
  • Require operators to collect enough customer data to measure effectiveness of strategic initiatives;
  • Include incentives to contractors to increase golf rounds;
  • Include strategies to market City’s courses as part of a system;
  • Determine whether and how to tie golf program to City recreation division.

2020 Auditor’s Status Update: Recommendation in process

A draft request for proposals for operation of the City’s four Eastside golf courses contains language to address this recommendation. This includes increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion in both staff and customers through marketing and outreach, along with creating welcoming facilities that will be financially self-sustaining. These provisions and others included in the recommendation will need to appear in the final contract. The golf program has expanded outreach to underrepresented groups since the audit’s publication, creating a golfing community program targeted to young adults.  Although they had almost 350 members signed up, all planned events were cancelled because of Covid-19 restrictions.

Recommendation Status: In Process

2019 Recommendation

Increase monitoring to ensure contract provisions are followed.

2020 Auditor’s Status Update: Recommendation in process

The program collected many of the documents required by the current contracts, such as marketing plans. A five-year course review was also completed at RedTail Golf Center. Roofs and gutters were cleaned at two other clubhouses, fulfilling a contractual obligation.


Recommendation Status: Implemented

2019 Recommendation

Present contracts to City Council for approval and renewal.

2020 Auditor’s Status Update: Recommendation implemented

Council agreed to extend the management contract at Heron Lakes in August 2019 to coincide with the expiration of the other Eastside course contracts. The golf program plans to bring one contract, for all four of the Eastside courses, to Council in fall of 2021.

Visit our website to view the original 2019 audit report.

Visit our online dashboard to track the status of recommendations from other reports