Reformed city golf advisory group to meet
-By Tod Leonard 6 a.m.Feb. 18, 2014
The San Diego Golf Advisory Council that existed for years went away in 2006 in the aftermath of acrimonious battles over the direction of the city’s prime municipal courses at Torrey Pines.
In 2009, the San Diego County Grand Jury recommended that a golf council be reinstated. It didn’t happen. In July 2009, the City Council approved a new golf business plan with an advisory group being part of that agreement. The process dragged on and was further burdened by Mayor Bob Filner’s scandal.
On Thursday, finally, the new Municipal Golf Committee will hold its inaugural meeting at 6 p.m. in the public lounge in the clubhouse at Torrey Pines. The 11-member panel representing various stakeholders, as well as at-large members, was nominated by the mayor’s office and approved by the City Council. It will serve as an advisory board to the city in all matters of municipal golf. The meetings are open to the public.
The committee’s chairman is Michael Zucchet, the former City Councilman and current chief of the city’s largest union. While on the Council, Zucchet, an avid city golfer, led a fight against a renovation of the Torrey Pines North Course and the building of a new clubhouse at Torrey.
But Zucchet insisted on Monday he’s not looking for battles for the committee, but rather dialogue that he hopes will make the city’s facilities the best they can be.
“We’re basically trying to start fresh,” Zucchet said. “There is a lot of baggage here, from private interests, to the city staff, to the committee side. Everybody has both good and bad memories. We want to start fresh and work on the same page from the get-go.
"At the same time,” Zucchet added, “we want to be mindful of the past. We want to make sure the courses remain as municipal golf courses in name and in practice.”
Zucchet expressed admiration for the current state of the municipal courses, calling the conditions at Torrey Pines “the best I’ve ever seen.” He also points out that there are major projects upcoming, including the building of a new clubhouse at Balboa Park and the renovation of the North Course at Torrey Pines.
In fact, the largest order of business in the inaugural meeting on Thursday will be to review and vote on the North’s renovation plan.
Zucchet is confident that the MGC will have an influential voice with the city. The group was formed by city ordinance in May 2013 and has the support of the City Council, he said, including Councilwoman Sherri Lightner, who pushed in 2009 to have the group re-established.
Zucchet said he believes Mayor-elect Kevin Faulconer will continue to be supportive of the new advisory group.
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