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The City Journals

What’s Next for Mulligans?

Oct 04, 2016 04:43PM ● By Mylinda LeGrande

“This is the amazing thing about Mulligan’s—a professional golfer can golf there and a 3-year-old girl can go with her dad and golf there,” resident Janalee Tobias said. (Janalee Tobias/South Jordan Resident)

By Mylinda LeGrande | [email protected]

South Jordan City Council will decide the future direction of Mulligans Golf & Games in late October, according to city officials. This decision comes following the completion of the Mulligans Commission Master Plan report in August and recommendations from the Mulligans Commission and Save Mulligans given during council meetings this past September. 

“I personally hope the city and the residents can work together to find a viable and best-use plan for Mulligan’s moving forward,” Councilmember Don Shelton said. “It has been a really divisive issue; I hope that people can rally together around a good plan.” 

Shelton serves on the Mulligans Commission, a small group comprised of city staff, government officials, and residents. In November 2015, the commission hired Andy Staples and Staples Golf Resource Group, LLC to prepare a master plan report that would provide an in-depth review and analysis of Mulligans. The recently completed Staples report was formally accepted during the Aug. 16 city council meeting. 

The Staples report explores five options: 1) maintaining “the status quo” with a $2.2 million investment in repairs; 2) making minor investments in and improvement to Mulligans; 3) maximizing best use and making full-scale renovations costing over $10 million; 4) converting Mulligans to a regional park for $3-$7 million; or 5) selling the property. 

The report ultimately recommends option three, known as Plan B, which, in addition to making necessary repairs, would require rebuilding the golf course to industry standards and renovating the clubhouse among other things.

“According to Mr. Staples, Plan B is the best path forward for the city,” Shelton said. “It would make the property the most beautiful and would improve it for folks who want to go there to golf and learn to golf and for folks who want to go there to enjoy it and use it for other purposes. This plan would increase public access, increase connections to the Jordan River Parkway trail and increase the residents’ ability to use and enjoy the various amenities offered.” 

Julie Holbrook, president of the grassroots movement and political interest committee Save Mulligans, supported many of the findings in the Staples report at the Sept. 6 council meeting. This included the need for increased marketing, repairs and investment. Save Mulligans represents approximately 5,000 people around the valley, according to Holbrook.

“The citizens of South Jordan have spoken publicly on numerous occasions to keep Mulligans and maintain and market it well,” Holbrook said. “It is not difficult to see that this is also the best option from the Staples report.” 

However, the group did not support the options to convert Mulligans to a regional park, sell the property or add additional debt. 

“A number of proposals in the Staples report would not only reduce Mulligans profits but would also burden Mulligans with additional unnecessary debt,” Holbrook said. “Save Mulligans is strongly opposed to any changes to Mulligans that would weaken its financial sustainability or add additional debt.” 

The Mulligans Commission had yet to report to city council at the time this article was written. However, Shelton is optimistic that their proposed plan would address both resident and city staff concerns. The council will most likely decide the future direction for Mulligans in its visioning meeting in late October, according to Shelton. 

In the meantime, council and residents will continue the discussion.

For South Jordan resident and conservation activist Janalee Tobias, it is a discussion worth having. Tobias voiced frustration with the study and use of funds and instead believes city leaders should listen more to resident comments.

“It’s not like we’re lacking in restaurants, but we are lacking in affordable outdoor recreation for families,” Tobias said. “Mulligans is a recreation area for residents and a tourist attraction for out-of-state visitors. It’s unique; it’s what people want.” 

“One thing I’ve learned from fighting all these years to preserve open space is that open space preservation is economic preservation,” Tobias said. “Mulligan’s is a park that makes money; public parks do not make money. It’s affordable preservation and affordable participation for residents in the community.”