Tucson officially has a new private management company to run its five municipal golf courses.

The city announced late Monday it had finalized a contract with OB Sports to assume control of day-to-day golf operations beginning February 1.

The company was selected in November out of 15 original bidders and entered into contract negotiations.

Although the Scottsdale-based company is responsible for running the courses, including deciding whether or not to keep the current 20 full-time and 98 part-time and on-call employees, the city will maintain ownership of the courses and control what it costs to play a round of golf.

OB Sports said it will interview current city employees for open positions.

City employees who are civil service protected will have the option of bumping into another city position once the new management tam takes over.

While the city didn’t include specific details regarding how much OB Sports will receive for managing the courses, the company was seeking $240,000 a year, with an annual incentive of 5 percent of the increase of total golf revenues above what they are now.

Fast start

The company expects to hit the ground running.

In the first year, it estimates it can net $102,000 and increasing to around $713,000 by 2018.

OB Sports expects to reach those figures by keeping labor costs low and increasing the number of rounds played and the amount of food, beverages and merchandise sold.

The city’s announcement didn’t indicate if the company would receive the nearly half-million dollar water credit each year that it asked for as part of its initial proposal. But OB Sports original proposal stated it wouldn't see a profit until around year three of the contract if the city didn't provide the credit.

The contract marks the end to an 18-month process to turn around golf's fortunes.

Last fall, the City Council voted to close Fred Enke and transform El Rio into a hybrid park/golf course as a way to alleviate city golf's approximately $8 million deficit.

But before any of those things could happen, the council committed to first seeing if an outside company could lift city golf out of the red.

Many city officials were surprised 15 golf management companies applied when the city opened bidding last winter.

Contact reporter Darren DaRonco at 573-4243 or ddaronco@azstarnet.com. Follow on twitter @DarrenDaRonco​