When golfers take to the greens at the Hesperia Golf and Country Club in May, it'll still be the same par 72 course they've always known it to be. But it'll be a government-owned and government-run facility.


At their April 20 meeting, the Hesperia City Council unanimously voted to purchase the course for $4.2 million. Escrow is expected to close the first week of May.


The Hesperia Golf & Country Club approached the city back in 2008, according to city manager Mike Podegracz.


"We knew that were more players out there that would have paid more for the water rights, but that's all they wanted, just the water rights," Podegracz said Thursday. "It would be very difficult to operate the golf course without the water rights. ... The council was concerned with losing the water rights to an entity outside of the Victor Valley and ending up with" a dying golf course in the middle of town.


The water rights are an unusually large amount in one gulp: 675 acre-feet. The water rights alone cost the city $2.6 million of the $4.2 million total price tag.


"You can't get that much water rights these days," said Podegracz. "Initially, that water will be used on the golf course," but the city's ultimate goal will be to divert it to some of the community's other needs. City staff "will be looking at ways, over time, to substantially reduce the water use on the golf course."


The city currently leases approximately 8,000 acre feet of water a year from the Rancho Las Flores developers (whose massive housing tract is not currently under active development) and the Victor Valley Wastewater Reclamation Authority.


There will be a yearlong feasibility study, wrapping up by the summer of 2011, to determine the future of the golf course. In the meantime, the Hesperia Recreation and Park District will operate the golf course.


"It could be a golf course," possibly with narrower fairways, requiring less water, said Podegracz, or "it could be something else."


The town of Apple Valley made a similar deal last year, with the same goal -- securing water rights -- but ended up without the rights but with the golf course.


"We verified everything with Mojave Water Agency -- that we are buying the water rights."


The next regular meeting of the Hesperia City Council will take place on May 4 at 6:30 p.m. at Hesperia City Hall, 9700 Seventh Avenue.


Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 760-956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com. Follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/Hesperia.Star