Two Florida golf management companies get a second chance at running Augusta Municipal Golf Course after management deals with at least three other private firms fell apart.
The city’s public services committee voted Monday to reopen negotiations with the second- and third-ranked bidders to run “The Patch,” the nickname many locals use for the course founded in 1928.
According to a bid award scoresheet, a procurement committee ranked Pope Golf of Sarasota, Fla., and Hampton Golf Clubs of Jacksonville, Fla., second and third behind Virginia Beach Golf Management, a Virginia Beach, Va., company whose management included Augusta native Andrew Menk.
Virginia Beach last week withdrew its bid to rent the course for $250,000 over 10 years after a third commission vote to approve a lease with the firm failed.
Commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle said he called for continued negotiations Monday as the only fix for the money-losing course.
“We have the perfect golf course, because 199,500 people pay for it, but only 500 people play,” he said of the city-owned course’s declining membership. Commissioners opposed to outsourcing course management often cite similar operating losses at Augusta Aquatics Center and Newman Tennis Center, two other city-owned recreation facilities, as justification for keeping the golf course in-house.
Officials with Pope and Hampton weren’t available for comment Wednesday, but according to the firms’ Web sites and published reports each is involved in operations at several public golf courses.
Pope Golf, whose principals include Keith Pope and Jerry Moore, holds management contracts at the municipal golf course in Asheville, N.C., Bent Tree Golf Club in Jackson, Tenn., Manatee Golf Course in Bradenton, Fla., and others.
Hampton Golf, founded by M.G. Orender and Ed Burr, recently partnered with Tampa Bay Rays partner Randy Frankel to buy the Course and Club at Palencia, a golf community in St. Augustine, Fla., and manages the Course and Club at Verandah in Fort Myers, Fla., the Golf Club at North Hampton in Fernandina Beach, Fla., Hampshire Country Club, a private club in Westchester County, N.Y., and others.
Both Hampton and Pope presented management plans to the procurement committee for which the city would likely pay a fee, instead of the lease option that Virginia Beach offered that provided the city rental income. It was also unclear whether either could offer a lease or purchase option, both of which were sought in the city’s original request for proposals.
Scored on qualifications, business plan, maintenance, vision, financial benefit and other factors, the committee assigned Pope Golf 115 points and Hampton 99 points out of a possible 150 points. Virginia Beach received 128 points.
This is the city’s fourth attempt at outsourcing the course since 2009. A first bidder, The Patch in Augusta LLC, abandoned its lease last year after four months and left several employees unpaid. Later last year, negotiations with three Augusta brothers who sought to run the course failed. The course was reopened in the fall under management by city recreation employees.