In fact, The Patch in Augusta LLC, headed by Scottish businessman Brian Hendry, hasn’t paid rent since April 11, according to a notice issued Wednesday by the city to Hendry’s Augusta attorney.
The city is demanding that the firm cover an outstanding balance of $5,000 in 10 days or risk the immediate termination of its lease, which had a 10-year term.
The Augusta Commission considered the deal a bargain when it voted last year to lease the golf course to Hendry. Instead of the thousands of dollars in annual operating losses the course experienced under city management, the city gained rental income of $1,000 a month.
Any issues with nonpayment of employee wages had been cleared up Friday, said Mayor Pro Tem Joe Bowles, who supports outsourcing the course’s management.
Bowles said club pro Ronnie MacDonald had been prevented from re-entering the United States at one point because his visa had expired.
He added that a local group of Patch players was “chomping at the bit” to take on management of the course because Hendry’s group was having trouble.
The group is not Affiniti Golf Partners, Bowles said. Affiniti, which operates nearby Forest Hills Golf Course, offered to manage the course for a $5,000 monthly fee last year, but the commission voted to lease the course to The Patch in Augusta instead.
This year, the commission voted against authorizing the firm to use a $300,000 sales tax allocation approved by voters for the city-owned course to make improvements at The Patch.
City Administrator Fred Russell said he had received recent reports that conditions have gone down at the golf course.
Hendry did not respond to an e-mail requesting comment.