Saving One Stockton Golf Course Could Mean Shutting Down Another

STOCKTON -- Jesse Castellon is an avid golfer who has been playing at Van Buskirk Municipal Golf Course in Stockton since the 1970s.

"This course used to be the go-to place in the past," he told FOX40.

But now, the future of his favorite course it up in the air.

Stockton City Council will be teeing off on discussions Tuesday to decide what to do with two of the city's oldest and most controversial golf courses, Swenson Park Golf Course in north Stockton and Van Buskirk in south Stockton.

"These golf courses, Swenson and Van Buskirk, are one of those crown jewels," Castellon said.

Only one may survive as a golf course in the future.

Longtime golfers at Van Buskirk said they were worried the city had already made the decision to close it down.

"At Swenson, by far they take care of that venue to make that course the premiere course of Stockton and, as usual, anything on the south side you get the short end of the stick," said golfer Tacho Zavala.

Tuesday, council members will be updated on proposals to save Swenson Park, which includes a 15-year deal from one company to operate and maintain it -- but it comes at a cost. The company will only move forward if the city gives up golf operations at Van Buskirk.

"The south side doesn't have very many amenities it can brag about or look to as a bright spot," Castellon said. "This is one of the few things in the south side of Stockton that makes the south at least proud of what it has."

Stockton's community service director told FOX40 "it's impossible for the city to maintain two golf courses" and questions whether taxpayer money spent on Van Buskirk could be better put to use.

Council will also hear input from the community about what to do with Van Buskirk. Some suggestions from the public include adding recreational amenities for all to use, like walking and biking trails, or a soccer complex.

But golfers say they want it kept as is.

"If they lose this golf course it will be a big loss to the city. They should keep it a golf course," Castellon said. "If they upgrade it they will be able to make a profit out here because there's all kinds of golf organizations, golf clubs that used to play this course. They no longer play because the city has let this course go down."

The city said Tuesday's council meeting is just an update on both golf courses since no final decision has been made. They added golf course closures are up nationally as fewer people take to the greens.

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