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Patch open with free rounds

Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012 2:39 PM
Last updated Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012 1:12 AM
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About 10 golfers met interim course manager Ed Howerton at the door Tues­day when the Augusta Municipal Golf Course reopened with free play.

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David Brownson putts on the No. 13 green at the Augusta Municipal Golf Course. The course reopened Tuesday with free play under the city's management.  SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
David Brownson putts on the No. 13 green at the Augusta Municipal Golf Course. The course reopened Tuesday with free play under the city's management.

“Right now we have more workers than golfers,” said Howerton, who oversaw operations for years at the city-owned course, known as “The Patch,” which the Augusta Commission decided last year to lease to a private company.

State inmates from the Rich­mond County Correc­tional Institute, assigned to
remove fallen trees and over­grown vegetation at the course, outnumbered players Tues­day morning, but they and a city crew repairing Red Douglas Clubhouse were a wel­come sight, he said.

“It’ll take a while to get to get through repairing things,” Howerton said.

The repairs come later than many hoped. The Patch in Augusta LLC, which sought to use a 2009 sales tax allocation of $300,000 approved for the course when it took over operations last year, was denied the funds by the commission in March. Then last week, commissioners refused to make repairs for a trio of Augusta brothers who wanted to take over the nine-month-old lease after The Patch in Augusta quit paying its employees and the rent.

The commission authorized City Administrator Fred Russell to make the repairs using the sales tax funds Monday.

Floyd Strausser, a Patch member who’d walked nine holes by 9 a.m. Tuesday, said it was just that kind of commission politics that prompted him to move out of Augusta, where he’d lived and played the city course since 1968.

“For them to flat refuse to fix something that they own, that’s purely ridiculous,” Strausser said.

Strausser, like many loyal to the course, said The Patch in Augusta’s Brian Hen­dry, a Scottish businessman, and Hendry’s pro, Ronnie MacDonald, were nice guys but likely tried to do too much when they banned card games, instituted a dress code and made other organizational changes.
“This is not a champions’ course,” Strausser said. “This is for everyday joes.”

Free rounds, with no golf cars because Hendry terminated his Club Car lease, continue through Sunday.

Russell said he hoped to have a new private operator for the course within 40 days.

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David Parker
David Parker 09/11/12 - 03:32 pm
I'm trying to get out there

I'm trying to get out there for the freebie. And when it reopens, I'll pay too. This course doesn't ridicule my swing and I don't feel like I've spent the day digging a ditch in red clay. I've actually come close to par going out.

OpenCurtain 09/11/12 - 04:25 pm
A Patch prediction.

I have a feeling we have not seen the last of the Keystone Cops (Commissioners), Who's on 1st (Joe) and What's on 2nd (Russell) in this matter.

soapy_725 09/11/12 - 06:11 pm
What the world needs now is love

sweet love, not for just a few, but for everyone. Under our new King Love = Entitlement. The church is the cause for crime, welfare and poverty. The King is the answer to crime, welfare and poverty.

soapy_725 09/11/12 - 06:14 pm
more workers than golfers

sounds like a River City plan for success. Subsidized meals, housing, cell phone, TV, public transportation, baseball, golf, relocation of home owners, two turtle doves and partridge in a pear tree.

Enyaw 09/12/12 - 01:07 pm
Welcome back

I welcome the reopening of the course. It was the first course to open itself up to the golf programs in our school systems. When others turned us away, they and their patrons welcomed the students. The men and women even took the time to encourage the students by giving them assistance any time they were there. The "Patch " is more than just a golf course... it is also a place where you are free to relax and enjoy your game.

Discussionstarter 09/12/12 - 10:04 pm
Can the commissioners and Fred not do anything right?

Unbelievable. If the City of Augusta were owned by me..... I would have already fired these clowns.

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