First Tee, Patch partnership proposed

Monday, March 11, 2013 2:27 PM
Last updated Tuesday, March 12, 2013 1:05 AM
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A nearby youth golf course might be the answer to management issues at Augusta Municipal Golf Course.

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David Mathis (right) watches as Rudy Grantum attempts a putt at The Patch on Monday. Mathis and Grantum play one or two rounds a week at Augusta's municipal golf course.   TODD BENNETT/STAFF
TODD BENNETT/STAFF
David Mathis (right) watches as Rudy Grantum attempts a putt at The Patch on Monday. Mathis and Grantum play one or two rounds a week at Augusta's municipal golf course.

Paul Simon, chairman emeritus of the First Tee of Augusta board of directors, is proposing the six-hole youth golf program partner with the city-owned course to reduce costs for both and offer skilled junior players an 18-hole course to play.

“They’re side by side,” Simon said. “They can save a lot of money operating them together.”

First Tee, run by the Fore Augusta Foundation and located off Damascus Road, backs up to “The Patch,” the name locals use for the historic Highland Avenue course.

The national First Tee program helps expose underprivileged youth to golf. The Augusta program served 1,016 children last year – 37 percent female, 56 percent minority and 15 percent from families earning less than $24,000, Simon said.

Simon, who presented the ideas to the city’s Public Services committee Monday, said if the city opts to absorb capital costs of equipment in its first year instead of leasing the equipment, operating losses that have plagued the course for years will be erased. He sees the courses sharing a greenskeeper and other services, but with separate golf pros at each.

“Why not? We spend money on all the other sports through the budget,” he said.

The partnership could spell the end of more than three years of uncertainty at the course. The commission leased the course last year to a Scottish businessman only to see his firm abandon its lease and leave employees unpaid.

Later negotiations with two other interested golf management firms also failed.

Monday’s committee meeting was markedly different from those of the last 18 months in which commissioners routinely sparred with Simon over the details of management agreements for the new Augusta Convention Center and its parking deck. Simon’s firm, Augusta Riverfront LLC, runs both and shares management with Morris Communications Co., the owner of The Augusta Chronicle.

“I’m negotiating on your behalf,” Simon told commissioners Monday.

“Mr. Simon, it’s about time,” joked Commissioner Bill Lockett.

Simon, who co-founded Augusta’s First Tee program, said he’d happily provide an annual plan for The Patch partnership, with details such as rates, fees and capital improvements subject to commission approval. The city and Fore Augusta would divide profits evenly.

The committee received Simon’s proposal as information and asked the city administrator to follow up.

Commissioner Donnie Smith, an avid golfer, said he approved the “concept” of partnering with First Tee.

“If they can come up with some concrete figures and a business plan that helps Augusta and helps the kids, then I’m for it,” he said.

Comments (12) Add comment
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Itsallnew11
547
Points
Itsallnew11 03/11/13 - 02:44 pm
1
0
Awesome Idea!

It took a while to get to this point but this is the best choice for Augusta and our youth.

dickworth1
954
Points
dickworth1 03/11/13 - 02:46 pm
4
0
the patch
Unpublished

Why not shut the patch down and sell the property, cut the city's losses,
incidentally, the city is the taxpayers not the commissioners that think
they own the city. It is time for all politicians to start responding to taxpayers and not to the deadbeats that never pay taxes, this includes
some commissioners that owe taxes and you have to threaten them to
get them to pay their taxes. These recent raises without just cause is
a prime example of how some of the commissioners operate and you can like it or not, it does not matter to them.

nocnoc
49130
Points
nocnoc 03/11/13 - 05:55 pm
3
2
As predicted by several bloggers

Something will get done and it likely will happen before Masters week, to avoid the International Embarrassment.

Even if it is a Quick Patch job it will happen, if only to fall apart 3 weeks later.

Little Lamb
49030
Points
Little Lamb 03/11/13 - 09:04 pm
4
1
Management Deal

The other management deals between the city and Simon are way one-sided in Simon's favor. You'd better have someone read the fine print, Commissioner Lockett.

dichotomy
37448
Points
dichotomy 03/11/13 - 10:39 pm
6
1
Another Paul Simon proposal

Another Paul Simon proposal huh? So we turned down a qualified management company that was willing to PAY US a $100K a year in addition to relieving us of losing $250K operating expenses a year and now Paul Simon rides to our rescue with.......NOTHING. When Paul comes a knockin' all taxpayers should grab the wallets and look for a better deal. Of course, our commissioners would not know a better deal if they tripped over it. Paul is a firm believer that RC taxpayers can afford ANYTHING he wants.

“Why not? We spend money on all the other sports through the budget,” says the unelected man that somehow manages to control more of our tax money than our commissioners.

Well.....maybe we should quit spending on ANY of them.

soitgoes
900
Points
soitgoes 03/12/13 - 07:15 am
3
1
The Patch should be run by Forest Hills

Forest Hills Golf Course has it going on! Have you seen it lately? Course is in great shape, and they are in the midst of re-paving their entire parking lot. Must be doing something right... Put the Patch in the hands of people who already know how to operate a golf course in Augusta - in fact, in that area of Augusta.

Little Lamb
49030
Points
Little Lamb 03/12/13 - 07:28 am
2
0
Forest Hills

Isn't Forest Hills owned by Grooo? That behemouth institution, with the power and purse of state government behind it, can afford to run a top-flight golf course because of the power to divert tax money. If Grooo wants to buy the Patch at a fair price, I'm all for it. But I don't think Grooo wants the property at this time.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 03/12/13 - 07:53 am
0
0
Even before reading the

Even before reading the comments section, I thought to myself "self, there's got to be potential for a cut somewhere". I would suggest the good commissioner take LL's comment literally. No offense to Mr. Simon. It's just not good business to ignore things of that nature.

freedombelle
29
Points
freedombelle 03/12/13 - 08:26 am
0
0
"Patch"

I don't live in Augusta/Richmond County but I do spend a good amount of money there so PLEASE do something worthwhile with this OLD golf course. Don't let it fall by the wayside like The Golf & Gardens did as well as letting "The Green Jackets slip away." The second largest city in Georgia has such great potential if only the Commission and those who deal with it would just put "self" out of the way and promote growth instead of race and greed it could be a great city...City pride going to waste!

countyman
21630
Points
countyman 03/12/13 - 11:24 am
1
0
I think we should donate the

I think we should donate the property to GRU, or sell to an private developer.

The state own the Golf and Gardens property, and transferred the land to GRU. Savannah is really the second largest city, but Augusta is clearly the second largest MSA. The Green Jackets don't seem to be gaining much traction in South Carolina.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 03/12/13 - 01:37 pm
0
0
If SC doesn't want the

If SC doesn't want the jackets, and the jackets don't want Augusta w/o new tax-funded stadium construction, what is the likely outcome? I don't want to drive out of town to see some professional baseball. I've always had the option to see it in town and now that may no longer be the case. Losing the team shouldn't be on the table. All I'm sayin. And I consider NA "in-town". I'm referring to driving to Gwinette or Greenville I think has a team too.

Little Lamb
49030
Points
Little Lamb 03/12/13 - 02:50 pm
0
0
Lease

Paul Simon . . . said if the city opts to absorb capital costs of equipment in its first year instead of leasing the equipment, operating losses that have plagued the course for years will be erased.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Wasn't it J.P. Morgan who said, “If it appreciates in value, buy it; if it depreciates, lease it.”?

chriscauldwell
17
Points
chriscauldwell 03/13/13 - 08:23 am
0
0
The Patch and the Commissioners

With the Idiots we have running our great city of Augusta [meaning our Commissioners]they will make a bad deal as usual unless there getting kickbacks for themselves.They continue to stick it to the taxpayers when they had a Professional Golf Company willing to pay $250,000 over ten years but they choose to let us pay the bill instead of using there brains and making money,When are we going to vote these 'GOONS' out and get the city on the right track and stop sticking it to us,It has become a embarresment to say I live in this city and hope we can make a change soon before it gets any worse.

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