EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — For El Segundo officials, handing the keys to Topgolf to redevelop the Lakes at El Segundo golf course could be a watershed moment in the city's history.
For years, the 26-acre nine-hole city-owned golf course was bleeding the city dry. With golf losing its appeal to the younger generation, the city-owned golf course was losing more than $275,000 a year, said Scott Mitnick, the city manager.
"Having a municipal golf course, it's a blessing and curse," Mitnick said to Spectrum News 1. "The blessing is that it is an awesome asset. There's a lot of green space and a great place to play golf. The curse is local governments are hesitant to raise fees for anything it wasn't able to balance the budget, it required subsidies, and the course and clubhouse needed to be maintained. It was really difficult."
Agreeing with Topgolf will turn things around for the golf course, Mitnick said.
On Monday, the Texas-based Topgolf, an entertainment and golf company, announced its expansion with two Southern California locations. Topgolf specializes in building an innovative driving range game and adds a social component with a built-in restaurant and meeting space.
According to Topgolf, the company will build a three-level driving range and entertainment venue on a 14-acre county-owned land in San Bernardino County. The venue will feature 102 hitting bays, a restaurant and bar, and event space for corporate and social events. The company will also add a mini-golf experience, officials said.
In El Segundo, the company will redevelop the Lakes at El Segundo. The nine-hole golf course will be reconfigured and have an additional adjacent three-level driving range, two restaurants, a new pro shop, and a new clubhouse and patio.
According to Mitnick, the agreement also allows El Segundo residents to get a discount and students at the city's schools to use the facility. Additionally, the city gets a cut from food and beverage revenue. The venue is expected to generate $2 million a year for the city.
"This exciting development will take place as a result of city council's vision and unwavering dedication over several years to deliver a recreational amenity that will be fun to use, well-maintained, and financially sustainable over the long run," Mitnick said. The agreement between the city and Topgolf was nine years in the making.
Topgolf will begin development later this month and aiming to complete both locations in early 2022.
"For quite some time, we have been hearing the calls for Topgolf to come to Southern California and we are thrilled to be answering this call with not one, but two Topgolf venue experiences," said Dolf Berle, the chief executive officer at Topgolf, in a news statement. "Topgolf Ontario and Topgolf El Segundo are more than entertainment venues, they are a commitment to the people of the Inland Empire and Los Angeles County to contribute to the tremendous momentum of the region with energy and fun."
For Mitnick, he sees Topgolf's arrival as a win-win for the company, the city, and the Southern California community.
"This further diversifies our revenue stream, and it's going to revive the game of golf," he said.