Staff from a private university began moving into the city-owned, down-at-the-heels golf course facility Monday, to begin its promised rehabilitation.
The new management of the 45-year-old Cottonwood Golf Center plans to invest up to $3 million to transform the property by January 2013.
With the City Council’s blessing last month, Pacifica College, a 1-year-old, for-profit athletic and sports institution will manage, run and maintain the nine-hole golf course along with the adjacent pro shop and banquet facility.
The school just vacated its digs at 7121 Magnolia Ave. in Riverside, rechristened itself Pacifica College of Moreno Valley and started settling into its 16-acre Cottonwood site at 13671 Frederick St.
"These people have the resources," said Mick Rood, 67, a daily duffer and part of the citizens’ committee that helped choose Pacifica from five potential managers. "It could be a perfect match."
Money received through Pacifica’s tuition, endowments, investors, fundraisers and projects will help finance the renovations, said William E. Myers, the institution’s president and dean of academics.
"This is a diamond in the rough," he said.
Moreno Valley has been losing $200,000 a year operating the course. Pacifica intends to create a self-sufficient operation within four to five years, said Michael McCarty, city director of parks and community services.
Because the city still owns the golf course, the Cottonwood name, hours, fees and public access will remain the same.
For the first three years of the leasing agreement, Pacifica will keep all income from greens fees, rentals and sales of food, drinks and golf products. In the fourth and fifth years, the city will receive 10 percent of those revenues and 50 percent of money generated from a driving range.
The immediate goal is to woo more golfers to increase revenues by tripling or quadrupling the course’s annual 10,000 rounds. Myers already has planned several events in the next few months to attract people, including a parent-child tournament, win-a-turkey shoot in November, golf with a celebrity and a weekly women’s day of golf.
Myers also plans to offer lessons, clinics and yoga on the green.
He also wants to redevelop the greens, add sand traps and move tees.
The college plans to renovate the kitchen, bring in a food service, offer brunches and sell beer by next January. Pacifica also is eyeing a plot of dirt on the property at Frederick and Bay streets to convert into a miniature golf range or a clubhouse.
Pacifica’s yearly tuition is $12,000, but most who attend pay half that; the rest is covered by athletic scholarships, Myers said. There’s a 10-person faculty and 10 coaching staff. Many of the students are local and want careers in management, coaching, broadcasting and kinesiology in the sports industry.
The college is not yet accredited academically but Myers said he has started seeking regional, national and sports credentials, which should take at least a year.
School will start Aug. 22 with 100 enrollees. By increasing the number of online classes, he projects 500 to 800 students over the next three years.