Rethink the Patch

Don't give up on outside management for city golf course

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There may be a worse owner of a municipal golf course in this country, but we’d hate to imagine it.

Once again the Augusta Commission has failed its most basic stewardship responsibility for the city course known affectionately as “The Patch.” The city has lost hundreds of thousands on it, while allowing it to deteriorate – and while
allowing loosey-goosey collection of greens fees and other administrative foibles.

And yet, it has again turned away a capable management company willing to help taxpayers avoid continued losses and help the city improve the course’s ragged condition.

Besides dodging six-figure annual losses at the course, the city even would’ve been paid $250,000 in rent over 10 years under a contract it rejected Dec. 18 with Vir­ginia Beach Golf Man­age­ment.

After another company broke its management lease earlier this year, a trio of Augusta brothers stepped up to run the Patch – and even helped clean the course up for a charity tournament. All they asked for was some badly needed repairs. The city rejected the offer nearly out of hand.

Now that same city is in charge of the course, for good or ill.

This situation would be less than ideal in any burg. But in Augusta, known internationally for golf, it’s a veritable affront to a most dignified game.

There was behind-the-scenes talk of a special commission meeting before the end of the year to rethink the contract with Vir­ginia Beach Golf Man­age­ment. That would be nice – a last-minute opportunity to salvage something for the Patch out of a dreary year for the old girl.

Commissioners owe it to the city, and its golfers – many of whom are entry-level and low-income players who rely on the Patch’s affordability and accessibility.

The name of the course shouldn’t refer to the patch being placed on its chronic management wounds.

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omnomnom
3964
Points
omnomnom 12/26/12 - 02:28 am
5
1
$250k lease for 10 years ends

$250k lease for 10 years ends up being around 2k a month.. about the mortgage of a house in westlake...

We are the home of the Masters? C'mon, is this a fire-sale event or what?
The city should do a better job with the Patch or find a better deal. Generations ago Augusta kept it open during the Depression. We can do it now too.

omnomnom
3964
Points
omnomnom 12/26/12 - 02:31 am
8
2
"the city has lost hundreds

"the city has lost hundreds of thousands on it, while allowing it to deteriorate"

shoot i think that applies to about any venture the consolidated government has gotten into as of late.

except the landfill. and some joker on the commission wanted to SELL THE MONEYMAKER!

cm51
145
Points
cm51 12/26/12 - 03:08 am
8
0
A/RC CHALLENGE I am retired

A/RC CHALLENGE

I am retired on Social Security Disability; SS will let me earn a maximum of $720.00 per month without affecting my SS. With a background in Project Management, I see the PATCH as a "money maker" for the city, if managed as a BUSINESS and not the commissioner's "perk" for their friends.................I would be willing to "manage" the PATCH for the city, if they would.....

1- commit to making repairs that are needed (with me as manager seeking out and approving the RFQ's for repairs, as I am in "nobody's pocket"). And provide funding for those repairs upfront so as to expedite the availability of the course to the public.

2- allow ALL monies that are taken in to be deposited in a SEPARATE bank account from the city general fund; this would be an "escrow" type account where the city could not pull and redirect money for other purposes or departments.

3- the city will allow me to post publicly EVERY month a statement of receipts and expenditures either through printed media or social media.

4- allow me as management to have final say on ALL decisions concerning the PATCH and its daily operation.

5- the city will furnish ALL employees @ 15% above minimum wage ($8.34 per hour), and provide them the city benefits package.

6- the city will accept and furnish funding for ALL overhead items, materials and maintenance. The city will benefit from ALL net profits on a quarterly basis. These funds will be paid to the city by way of certified funds from a local bank.

7- the city will compensate me as a 1099 employee for $720.00 per month.

8- If as of June 1, 2013, the PATCH is not showing a steady and increasing positive growth, the city may simply relieve me of my duties with a 30 day written notice.

I am an amateur golfer and NOT a PRO; but Project Management is Project Management..........the product that you manage is irrelevant. Either you control your assets or they control you !!!

I am serious about this challenge; I am retired and do not need a huge amount of money in order to live; but it is worth something to manage this process for the city, and the public DESERVES to have the PATCH continue on.

omnomnom
3964
Points
omnomnom 12/26/12 - 04:21 am
6
0
cm51

go present your case before the commission if you're serious. sounds like a good plan to me (especially points #2 & 3)

seenitB4
97306
Points
seenitB4 12/26/12 - 06:26 am
4
0
Loosey Goosey

New name for the Patch...kinda catchey..

Can some in charge find their way out of a paper bag>>naahh

Riverman1
93552
Points
Riverman1 12/26/12 - 08:04 am
6
0
Loosey Goosey, ha, I liked

Loosey Goosey, ha, I liked that, too. They had the most capable and dedicated Kelly brothers and got rid of them.

Little Lamb
48973
Points
Little Lamb 12/26/12 - 08:07 am
3
0
Lame Duck

ACES wrote:

There was behind-the-scenes talk of a special commission meeting before the end of the year to rethink the contract with Vir­ginia Beach Golf Man­age­ment. That would be nice – a last-minute opportunity to salvage something for the Patch out of a dreary year for the old girl.

It would be last-minute, alright. It would be a slap in the face of parliamentary procedure. It would be a slap in the face of honor. It would be a slap in the face of voters who voted in four new commissioners in November. To have the four outgoing (lame duck) commissioners overturn last week's commission vote just because they can will sour our hope for a commission not only with new faces, but with with a new spirit of compromise and trust.

Calling a special meeting this week to overturn last week's votes (not only the golf course, but also the BID rejection) is a bad, a very bad idea.

This stuff can wait till next year.

Riverman1
93552
Points
Riverman1 12/26/12 - 08:22 am
5
3
Course Management Should Appeal to Local People

The past ownership was totally out of place with the clientele who use the course. The Scottish guy named it after his girlfriend and things in Scotland. The names of the holes should have more of a local flavor with girl names common to Augusta. Name the holes after neighborhoods in the city, too. For instance, Cherry Tree is picturesque. Those golf carts were also too small. Buy some golf carts from Club Car that are larger and more comfortable while appealing to the people who play the course. Make the seat wide enough so the driver can slide more to the middle as he drives.

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 12/26/12 - 09:21 am
5
0
Taxpayer Supported Free Lunch

We have enough Public Golf Courses in the Augusta Area.

Why should the city (DOWNTOWN) continue run a business
that is losing $$$,$$$.00 every year.

This has become a national joke at this point.
A joke that is competing with local Golf Course businesses
that do PAY into the tax digest?

Shut it down,
Rezone it 1 story O&I
and sell the land.

AC or BRAD QUESTION
I would like to know how many PAID Customers the course had in 2010, 2011 and 2012? Vs. the amount that the Taxpayers paid out to keep it open.

IF, the figures being passed around of less than 4,000 paid players in 2010 are close and IF the figure passed around of the operational cost to the Taxpayers of $900k is close?

IF those numbers are right, then the Taxpayers are chipping in about $225 per Paid Player.

BTW: This isn't even counting the wink, wink free plays.

So why are Taxpayers paying for people to pay golf?

Riverman1
93552
Points
Riverman1 12/26/12 - 08:44 am
5
1
It's kind of like the

It's kind of like the revitalization of Laney Walker. It would have been cheaper to just give every property owner $200,000 instead of all the money we'll pour into that depressed area. To save money on The Patch, just give anybody in Augusta who wants to play golf, cash and let them find a course to play. We'll come out ahead.

americafirst
1001
Points
americafirst 12/26/12 - 09:25 am
5
0
My recollection is that Red

My recollection is that Red Douglas rented the Patch from the city for decades for a dollar a year. He kept the course in decent shape and made a good living. It didn't cost the city anything other than perhaps free water to water the course. Is my recollection wrong anyone?

justthefacts
25003
Points
justthefacts 12/26/12 - 09:41 am
2
0
4000 rounds

Can that be right? Basically 10 rounds a day or 2.5 foursomes?? Can't be. If so, close it.

dichotomy
37420
Points
dichotomy 12/26/12 - 10:11 am
4
0
I don't care what they do

I don't care what they do with the damned thing but GET OUT FROM UNDER THE LOSSES. Lease it, sell it, give it away, close it, .....I don't care. It's nice to have a municipal golf course with reasonable fees
but it MUST be self sustaining and not one taxpayer dollar should be used to subsidize it.

Do it this week or do it next week but DO IT NOW.

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 12/26/12 - 12:32 pm
2
0
Could someone in the KNOW

publish the OFFICIAL #'s of PAID players in 2010, 2011 and 2012?
and Post the A-RC paid Taxpayer OFFICIAL upkeep figures for each year also?

The 4000 # sounds little low to me also, but it is the only figure floating around to work with. Is it 4000 rounds or 4000 pairs or 4000 foursomes.

Even at 4000 foursomes (16000 rounds) that works out to taxpayers still paying the Patch golfers to play on top of their fees?

harley_52
25831
Points
harley_52 12/26/12 - 01:21 pm
2
2
Turn It Into A Farm...

....and let trustee prisoners and welfare recipients provide the labor. Use the products to feed both groups and sell the excess (if any) to the public.

debbiep38
460
Points
debbiep38 12/26/12 - 02:59 pm
0
0
Harley, Plelase run for
Unpublished

Harley, Plelase run for Mayor!

harley_52
25831
Points
harley_52 12/26/12 - 03:04 pm
1
1
It Is Probably...

...4000 rounds per month. That would be a reasonable number and in line with other public courses.

harley_52
25831
Points
harley_52 12/26/12 - 03:36 pm
3
1
I was Serious...

....about the "farm" comment I made above. I proposed that a year, or so, ago when this subject was in the news like now. I don't believe the city has any business being in the golf course business, there are plenty of public courses around run by private owners competing for every dollar available. With all those courses and driving ranges around, there is no reason for the city to waste (or lose) money on "the patch" as a golf course.

However.....the city owns a valuable piece of real estate which should be put to better use than as a money losing liability. What we need is for our elected leaders to think outside the box.

Is that possible?

justthefacts
25003
Points
justthefacts 12/26/12 - 03:50 pm
3
0
harley

4000 per year not month.

harley_52
25831
Points
harley_52 12/26/12 - 04:06 pm
4
0
JTF...

4000 rounds/year is likely a mistake. I'm assuming it is incorrect. Some others have noted what a low rate of play that would be. I used to be on the board of directors of another public course in this area and that course used to get in the vicinity of 3000 rounds/month. If the Patch really only gets 4000 rounds per YEAR it should have been closed long ago.

justthefacts
25003
Points
justthefacts 12/26/12 - 04:38 pm
1
0
harley

OK, got it. Who knows? Probably no one.

harley_52
25831
Points
harley_52 12/26/12 - 04:42 pm
3
1
JTF...

If the Commissioners don't know, they are derelict. I think they've been studying and agonizing over this issue for several years. I see no progress, continued money losses, and no reasonable path forward. Nobody is responsible and nobody is in charge.

A city government patterned after the federal government.

justputtin
1527
Points
justputtin 12/26/12 - 07:21 pm
1
0
Brad Owens
4906
Points
Brad Owens 12/26/12 - 10:00 pm
0
0
4000 per year is correct.

That is why it cost us about $200K a year to keep it open.

harley_52
25831
Points
harley_52 12/26/12 - 10:10 pm
0
0
I Guarantee You...

...that 4000 per year is NOT correct. I'm not saying that's not what has been reported, or that it's not what the books say, I'm saying there is no way that's all the play the Patch gets.

That's less than three foursomes per day, on average, which is completely ludicrous. Somebody has been skimming and cooking the books and should be prosecuted.

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