Tempe City Council voted earlier this year to increase the contract value for management services at the Ken McDonald and Rolling Hills golf courses after the municipal fairways saw a nearly 20% spike in players during COVID-19.
The contract will increase by $350,000 to a newly adjusted contract amount of $1,100,000 with Gemini Golf Tempe LLC, according to city documents.
The 37-month contract, which started in 2019 was approved to increase by Tempe City Council on Aug. 6, 2021. The contract assigned Gemini Golf LLC with 21 specific duties ranging from rentals, supervision, and maintenance.
“Enthusiasm and significant interest in golf began in May 2020 as golf became one of the few recreational opportunities still available when the pandemic shut down most other recreation and entertainment venues,” says Tempe Public Information Officer Shannon Reed. “In fact, Ken McDonald and Rolling Hills had 17.6% more rounds compared to fiscal year 2020.”
Reed says in fiscal year 2020, McDonald and Rolling Hills saw 125,932 rounds of golf played, compared to 107,073 the year prior.
“The National Golf Foundation reported a similar trend throughout golf across the country and regionally, with Arizona reporting 13.8% higher rounds in 2021 compared to 2020,” Reed said.
According to 2021 city documents, “Overall golf revenue for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2021, is $3.87 million, exceeding the prior year’s revenue by over $1 million and well exceeding fiscal year 2021 revenue target of $2.85 million.”
In Tempe, the fiscal year runs from July 1 through June 30.
Gemini Golf shares in the success of the golf courses and according to 2021 city documentation, “Fiscal year 2021 revenue is over $1 million in excess of the revenue target. Based on the contract bonus structure, Gemini Golf will receive approximately 17% of excess revenue in the form of a one-time bonus.”
According to, Reed, “Given the continued, heightened interest in Golf, the FY21 bonus payment plus anticipated FY22 bonus payment will result in the original contract amount to be exceeded. Council action was taken to increase the contract amount.”
The 2019 golf management contract states that “the awarded company will retain all revenue associated with the Golf Pro Shop, Food and Beverage operations, golf instruction, and rental of clubs/pull carts,” however, “The City will retain all revenue from greens fees, golf cart rentals, and driving range.”
Gemini Golf owner, Scott Little, did not respond or return communications.
What Does This Mean for the Future of The Courses? Tempe is interested in improving the golf courses by outsourcing work.
According to Procurement Officer, Daniel Wojcik, the city is still in the evaluation phase of a future proposal to create a private partnership that improves the courses. Through a process of working with consultants, and private companies, the city of Tempe is taking a hands-off approach and, “wants to see what other firms can offer,” comments Wojcik.
Six companies have stepped up to accommodate the future goal for the golf courses says Wojcik. According to the Request for Proposal, “It is the City’s objective to enter into a public-private partnership that: Ensures the long-term viability of public golf; addresses capital improvement needs; provides revenue to the city; and; expands golf and recreational amenities to a wide and diverse audience.”
According to Wojcik, the proposal should be at Tempe City Council by late November and despite handing the courses over to private management, the city, “still wants to keep it open to the public.”
When asked about Gemini Golf, Wojcik says the city likes working with Gemini, however, it will be up to the private firms to keep them at the courses.
Editor’s note: Mr. Sutter is a student at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University
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