Thoughts on TopGolf – Letter to the El Segundo Herald by Tom Courtney

The following letter to the editor was published in the El Segundo Herald newspaper ( on Thursday, March 27, 2014 in the Letters section on page 16. The El Segundo Herald has a strict 250-word limit, including the title.

Thoughts on TopGolf

I’m glad that Bill Fisher has decided to make his support of TopGolf a major campaign issue. Golfers are opposed because the model prices the average golfer out of the market, $30-40 per large bucket at normal, peak practice times. Fisher minimizes the opposition, calls them misinformed and disregards the fact that over 1400 people signed a petition urging the council to keep the Lakes the same, over 300 of which were El Segundo residents.

The deal – a twenty year lease, with six 5 year options, at $425,000 a year , increasing only 10% every five years. There is no sharing in revenues, Wooddale, Ill negotiated a sharing of revenues including alcohol sales, why not here? The lease calls for the facility to be built like that in Austin.

Staff came up with a positive TopGolf economic effect of $332,000 (currently estimated at $ 200-300,000) – repeated by Mr. Fisher as a reason why he voted for it. The truth, TopGolf is a negative for the City-the driving range is highly profitable, $550,000 and rising per year. The city gets to their “positive” number by relying on “assumed” savings of $253,000 and by mistreating overhead allocations, charging the range income but not TopGolf income.

TopGolf is not the answer!

– Tom Courtney

Note by Michael D. Robbins:

I championed construction of The Lakes at El Segundo city golf course and driving range when I campaigned for City Council, and after I was elected to the El Segundo City Council. I followed through diligently to help get it built as had long been promised to the community before I ran for City Council.

El Segundo Mayor Bill Fisher and Councilmembers David Atkinson and Marie Fellhauer, who usually vote in lock-step with Fisher, voted to give TopGolf what is effectively a 50-year lease of the City-owned Golf Course driving range, in the form of a 20-year lease with six 5-year options for TopGolf to unilaterally extend the lease. Most El Segundo voters will be dead before the City can regain control over its golf course property.

A 50-year lease of the City of El Segundo’s golf course driving range property is totally irresponsible and unjustifiable, whether or not TopGolf will to an adequate job providing golf services on that City-owned property.

Mayor Pro Tem Carl Jacobson and Councilmember Suzanne Fuentes voted against the 50-year lease.

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