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Oro Valley taps Billy Casper Golf to manage its 18-hole courses

Oro Valley taps Billy Casper Golf to manage its 18-hole courses

  • Updated

The Santa Catalina Mountains rise in the background as a golfer putts on the practice area at El Conquistador Golf Course, one of the courses that will remain open along with Cañada. Oro Valley selected a new company to manage the town’s two 18-hole courses.

The town of Oro Valley has found a new company to manage its golf courses.

Billy Casper Golf, which manages 140 courses in 29 states, will take over management of the Conquistador and Cañada courses from Troon within the next three months.

The agreement was first reported by Tucson Local Media.

Town Manager Mary Jacobs told the Star that Billy Casper Golf, based in Virginia and founded by PGA Tour legend Billy “Buffalo Bill” Casper, was picked out of five prospective bidders.

That came after a “long process” that included a team of evaluators, including HSL Properties, which sold the town the golf courses back in 2015.

“They went through the whole process and came to the conclusion that the most advantageous operator would be Billy Casper Golf,” she said, noting that contract has not been signed yet because “they are dotting all the I’s and crossing the T’s,” but it will be finished soon.

The golf courses have been a polarizing topic for many in Oro Valley, as the town mulled closing down its golf courses and leased a third, Pusch Ridge, back to HSL.

Jacobs said the town made sure to notify community members about the golf course manager, to which it received “very positive feedback.”

Jennifer LeFevre, the director of Oro Valley Thrives, a group that lobbied to keep the courses open, said she was looking forward to seeing what the new company brings.

“They’re basically certified cooperative sanctuary facilities and that is something they pride themselves on,” LeFevre said.

“It’s supposed to be reduced waste and promote environmentally efficient operation within the community around them, so it looks like they do a lot of good and we’re excited to give them a try here in Oro Valley.”

The town had been searching for a new course operator since January, Jacobs said. That came after the Oro Valley Town Council included the stipulation to seek out a new golf course manager as part of an agreement to keep open the two courses.

Keeping Troon as the golf course operator was part of the sales agreement between HSL and the town back in 2015. The town had extended that agreement twice for six months, but Jacobs said this was because it didn’t want to make changes while figuring out what to do with the courses.

Chris Cornelison, the assistant town manager, who was on the evaluation committee, said that Billy Casper Golf “provided a strong overall proposal,” that included a “strong interview,” good financial proposal, and a wealth of experience.

“They focus on data analytics and evaluating their operations, which helps them make well informed decisions,” Cornelison said. “They had a very good track record of golf course maintenance, running their pro shop and food and beverage experience. … They’re very experienced and obviously that’s something we need to have for our club golf courses.”

Jamie Donnelly is a University of Arizona student who is currently an apprentice for the Arizona Daily Star.

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