It took a specially called meeting, but Augusta commissioners finally agreed last week to outsource the management of the city’s poorly run golf course known as the Patch.
Under city management, the course adjacent to Daniel Field has become forlorn and neglected, even while costing taxpayers roughly $200,000 a year.
Why it was so difficult a decision for commissioners to trade in six-figure deficits and ramshackle supervision for guaranteed rental income of $250,000 over 10 years and professional management is beyond us. But commissioners initially turned down the lease offer from Virginia Beach Golf Management on Dec. 18.
Thankfully, outgoing term-limited commissioner and Mayor Pro Tem Joe Bowles managed to get a special meeting called Dec. 27 in which previously absent Commissioner Grady Smith was able to provide the deciding vote in favor of the agreement.
It still only passed with the minimum six votes required – an ominous sign, should it be necessary for the new commission that takes office this month to give the arrangement a final blessing.
The next commission is widely expected to be even less functional, with the return of combative former Commissioner Marion Williams.
The city, its golf patrons and the good folks at Virginia Beach Golf Management don’t need this belated agreement to be in some way abrogated by the new commission. The course needs stability and new, capable management after perhaps the most tumultuous year in its history.
The year began with another private firm in control. When it failed to abide by its agreement, the commission later rejected an offer from three Augusta brothers to run the Patch. It was closed for a while, reopened for free play for a bit, then limped through December under city management.
The old girl deserves better – particularly in Augusta, the city known around the world for golf.
Bowles says he’s confident the matter is decided – but as we’ve seen time and again with this city commission, nothing ever seems to be settled at City Hall. Contentious issues there are like vampires: They never die, and tend to suck the life out of you.
Augusta’s golfers, and the city’s reputation, should be worth more than that.
The commission has finally put one in the middle of the fairway. It’s no time to slice it into the woods.