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Patch's fate still uncertain

Course made $421,000 in '09, spent $519,000

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An audit showed Wednesday that Augusta Municipal Golf Course is not losing money in any suspicious way.

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Clois Herndon stands outside the Augusta Municipal Golf Course's clubhouse Wednesday afternoon. Herndon has been golfing at the Patch for 48 years, and the former Laney High golf coach feels the public course is a good way to keep kids out of trouble.   Zach Boyden-Holmes/Staff
Zach Boyden-Holmes/Staff
Clois Herndon stands outside the Augusta Municipal Golf Course's clubhouse Wednesday afternoon. Herndon has been golfing at the Patch for 48 years, and the former Laney High golf coach feels the public course is a good way to keep kids out of trouble.

But it offered little explanation for how the city's public golf course, known as the Patch, can make receipts equal to expenditures.

Last year, the course made approximately $421,000, but spent about $519,000, auditor J.T. Cosnahan told members of a study committee.

Patch faithful, such as former Lucy C. Laney High School coach Clois Herndon want nothing to keep them off their favorite course. Herndon said he's been playing at the Patch for 48 years.

But neighboring institutions, such as Daniel Field Airport and Augusta State University, continually eye the money-losing course as perfect for their expansion plans.

Augusta State University planner Kathy Hamrick said Wednesday that ASU wanted to be "first in line" should the Patch agree to sell any portion of its property.

Commissioner Bill Lockett, who chairs the study committee, said an expansion of a Daniel Field runway onto the Patch is out of the question. Nearby Highland Park residents already complain about the sounds of takeoff and landing, he said.

The small neighborhood, sandwiched between the private airport and Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center, recently made waves by successfully opposing a veterans' home entrance on a residential street.

If the Patch gave up some of its property to Daniel Field, theoretically it could make up the loss by joining forces with nearby First Tee, said golf course manager Ed Howerton.

Adjacent to the Patch, ASU apartments and the airport, First Tee is a six-hole facility geared toward exposing young people to golf.

The Patch has raised rates and increased prices for certain items in an effort to increase revenues, Howerton said. It also relies heavily on volunteers, who exchange their services for use of the course, he said.

The course is the only Augusta recreation facility budgeted in an enterprise fund -- not the general fund -- meaning it isn't supposed to operate in the red.

It already has made some personnel cuts in an effort to save, and has looked at options for increasing memberships and play at the course, said Augusta Recreation Director Tom Beck.

With the audit completed, Lockett sent committee members out to look for other solutions.

The committee will gather again at 6 p.m. May 13 to make a final recommendation on the Patch's fate for the Augusta Commission.

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justthefacts 05/06/10 - 06:08 am
It would be a shame to lose

It would be a shame to lose this resource for golfers who can't join a private club and rely on it for play. Hopefully, it can be worked out by a better operational plan.

jb1234 05/06/10 - 10:15 am
I think that the course

I think that the course should be given a few years to restructure in an attempt to break even, if after a few years this fails and it continues to lose money, then it should close. While I'd hate to see the course close, it's not like the people who play the course would be left out on the street, nearby Forest Hills is a public course and their rates are almost exactly the same as the Patch ($20 for 18 holes and no cart at Forest Hills vs. $19 for 18 holes and no cart at the Patch). But, if the course does close, 3 holes could be donated to the adjacent First Tee so that they would have a full 9 holes, then the remainder of the land should be sold for no less than fair market value.

Unbelievable 05/06/10 - 01:13 pm
The solution is simple. The

The solution is simple. The management at the Patch is pretty crappy. You want to raise revenue? Simple, lower prices. Raising prices drives away potential golfers. Why? Simple 1) the course isnt in that good of shape 2) there are lower priced options in the area. Why would a golfer want to pay higher prices to play there, when they can drive 5-10 miles and be at a handful of other public courses. That are in better shape, and cost less to play. It's an easy fix.

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