Mesa spends $2.5 million to run two city-owned golf courses. At the same time, city employees are being asked to forgo cost-of-living adjustments for the next two years to help stave off a looming budget deficit. While glittering greens may look great in brochures and nicely complement the other 19 golf courses in Mesa, a round on the municipal back nine is cold comfort to employees facing de facto pay cuts.
Mesa is not alone in financing personal recreation at public expense. Tempe and Glendale each run two courses; Kingman, Page, and Casa Grande have eighteen holes each. But these one- and two-course operations are positively quaint compared to other Arizona cities. Tucson has 5 city-owned courses, Phoenix runs 7, and Sun City has 8.
Consider that there are over 300 privately owned courses in Arizona. Reasonable people may disagree about the proper role of government, but municipal golf courses? It's enough to make you need a day on the greens.