Mill Valley Golf Course gets overhaul under new operator

Faced with falling revenue and fewer players in recent years, the struggling Mill Valley Golf Course is undergoing a major renovation to revitalize it.

The city-owned, nine-hole course on 42 acres has operated for more than a century. It has a new manager, Touchstone Golf, charged with overseeing a $1.7 million investment in the course over the next five years.

Late last month, work began to spruce up the site, starting with the renovation of five of the tees. In the coming months, Touchstone, which has offices in Austin, Texas and Oakland, will address drainage and irrigation challenges and add more robust food and beverage service, company president Mark Luthman said.

β€œIt’s such a valued community asset for generations. We’re just thrilled to play a small part in its improvement and next chapter,” he said.

Touchstone’s management of the site includes food and beverage service, landscape maintenance and course operations. The group is also responsible for personnel, marketing, accounting, payroll and tournaments. The clubhouse is managed by the city’s recreation department.

The pro shop stands at the entrance to the Mill Valley Golf Course in Mill Valley on Monday, Aug. 8, 2022. (Alan Dep/Marin Independent Journal)

The work also includes cleaning and painting the exterior of the pro shop and a possible expansion of the practice putting green.

For food service, Touchstone has acquired a small commercial kitchen trailer that will be placed near the first tee. Items such as breakfast burritos, burgers, sandwiches will be served.

Touchstone has also applied for a liquor license β€” the course had a beer and wine license under the previous vendor β€” to expand drink offerings on site. The beverages will be served by a pro shop attendant for the patio area.

“The city is very excited about our partnership with Touchstone Golf and our future plans for the Mill Valley Golf Course,” said City Manager Alan Piombo. “Touchstone is an industry leader in golf course management with an exceptional track record of revitalizing golf courses in the Bay Area and beyond. We are also very grateful to our community members and private partners who are demonstrating their continued support for the course.”

Sean McGrew, the city’s recreation director, said the plan was guided by a golf course master plan developed in 2019 to create a course that is a community asset.

“I believe the city of Mill Valley, Touchstone Golf and our community are bringing that spirit to life with the improvements to the course and the amenities offered,” he said. “We are creating a destination for people to golf, to eat, to gather and to enjoy.”

The city, which inked the deal with Touchstone in February, will provide $825,000 in support, with an initial contribution of $325,000 and $500,000 over the next five years. Touchstone has pledged a $50,000 contribution to support the improvements, and private support will account for the next $700,000.

The city has agreed to pay Touchstone a monthly fee of $4,000 and reserve 2.5% of all course revenues to a fund dedicated to capital improvements. If the course turns a profit, the city will take 75% and Touchstone 25%.

Touchstone manages 40 courses across the country, including the Presidio Golf Course in San Francisco, Tilden Park Golf Course in Berkeley, Lake Chabot in Oakland, Bennett Valley in Santa Rosa and Blue Rock Springs Golf Course in Vallejo.

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