Sparks Ignites with New Golf Project

In spring 2002, Sparks (Nev.) officials announced they were planning to join forces with the First Tee program to develop a 30-hole golf complex in the Kiley Ranch development in the Spanish Springs area. The project will include an 18-hole regulation layout, a par-3 nine and a three-hole practice course. The shorter layouts would open in 2003, with the regulation track following in ’04. Green fees for the longer course would average $24 for Sparks residents, making it one of the best values in the greater Reno-Sparks area.

Initial projections estimate the golf complex will generate $850,000 in profits in its first year. The estimates are based on about 60,000 rounds a year being played. The city plans to finance the $9-million project with general obligation bonds. If the golf course doesn’t generate enough revenue to repay the bonds, the city will retire the debt from its general fund.

The city has agreed to participate with the nonprofit Northern Nevada Youth Golf Foundation to build the facilities at Kiley Ranch, a 1,923-acre residential development located north of Sparks Boulevard and east of the Pyramid Highway. The foundation is operating with First Tee, an organization responsible for building youth golf facilities around the nation. The city still needs to negotiate a profit-split with the foundation for revenues generated by the complex.

The clubhouse will be named the Sheehan House and the three-hole practice course will called Patty Links after LPGA Hall of Fame member, Patty Sheehan. Sheehan, who has local roots, will be actively involved in the project. She and Mike Mazzaferri, secretary/treasurer of the The First Tee Northern Nevada and a former golf pro at the nearby Red Hawk and Rosewood courses, will help raise $1.4 million in contributions to get the project off the ground. “It will fall primarily on the foundation, Patty Sheehan and myself to find (those donations), and we think we can do that,” Mazzaferri told the Reno Gazette Journal.

The complex will also feature a dormitory-style building near the short course to house people prepping for the golf industry. The facility will contain at least one room equipped for disabled tenants.

Mazzaferri was enthusiastic about the project. “This is the largest First Tee project on record,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a flagship. It’s going to show other communities how to bring affordable golf forward. This is probably the facility that will bring more new people to the game than all the other golf facilities in the area.”