Augusta commissioners celebrate privately run 'Patch'

Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2012 8:32 PM
Last updated Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012 3:33 AM
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Augusta commissioners championed the success of turning the city golf course over to a private firm during a hole-naming ceremony held by the new course manager Wednesday.

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Carol Lee and Brian Hendry, the new operator of The Patch, cut the ceremonial ribbon at the first hole of the course. The hole was dedicated for Lee, who has known Hendry, a native of Scotland, since 1991.   EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
Carol Lee and Brian Hendry, the new operator of The Patch, cut the ceremonial ribbon at the first hole of the course. The hole was dedicated for Lee, who has known Hendry, a native of Scotland, since 1991.

“This shows you the possibilities in putting it back in private hands,” said Commissioner Joe Jackson, who last July joined five other commissioners in voting to lease the city-owned property to The Patch in Augusta LLC, a firm headed by Aberdeen, Scotland, native Brian Hendry.

Inside Red Douglas clubhouse, changes to Augusta Muni­cipal Golf Course were apparent with a display of hats, shirts and other merchandise bearing a new logo Hendry designed. Staffers wearing uniforms with the logo served mimosas and Scottish eggs to a group that included four area golf pros and several of the club’s 106 members.

Jackson said the $1,000 Hendry pays the city monthly to rent the Highland Avenue golf course was a vast improvement over the sometimes $400,000 annually Augusta was losing when the city recreation department operated it.

“We couldn’t have kept it going that way,” Commissioner Jerry Brigham said. “This is ensuring the future of public golf in Augusta.”

The decision was controversial, with only six commissioners voting in favor of leasing the course to Hendry instead of Affiniti Golf Partners, which runs nearby Forest Hills Golf Course and offered to operate Augusta’s course for $5,000 a month.

Some commissioners had concerns about the city jobs being eliminated if the course was outsourced, although most of the former recreation employees either were hired by Hendry or transferred to other positions. Former course manager Ed Howerton now has the title of recreation safety and training coordinator, according to a new organizational chart.

Golfer Wendell Scott said he has played the course, nicknamed “The Patch,” about three times a week since the early 1990s.

Scott said after the ceremony that he bought an annual membership Jan. 4 and was impressed with the clubhouse’s new homemade sandwiches and soups, lower cart fees and improved conditions.

“They’re running the course like a professional business, like you’d see anywhere in the United States,” Scott said. “It’s customer-friendly and family-friendly.”

The ceremony was reminiscent of the Dec. 20, 1928, grand opening of the city course, which was designed by David Ogilvie, a Scottish immigrant then working as head pro at the Augusta Country Club.

In the 1928 opening, four Augusta golfers, including Ogilvie, took part in an exhibition foursome.

On Wednesday, pros from The First Tee of Augusta, Forest Hills, Augusta Country Club and The Patch teed off after the dedication of the first hole to Carol Lee.

Lee said she has known Hendry since 1991 and was “honored” to have the first hole named for her.

“Brian is a very special person,” she said. “He loves golf; he loves the city of Au­gusta, and we can expect to see a lot more from him.”

Comments (8) Add comment
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Riverman1
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Riverman1 01/25/12 - 09:00 pm
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This is exciting. It's like a

This is exciting. It's like a whole new course right in town. Didn't cost the city a dime either.

Craig Spinks
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Craig Spinks 01/26/12 - 02:46 am
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MC and its various operating

MC and its various operating companies are under severe fiscal pressures.

seenitB4
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seenitB4 01/26/12 - 03:12 am
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JTF.....I think ksl is

JTF.....I think ksl is right---some are trying to run off posters....please re-think leaving----your posts are enjoyed by many.

Some of us have had many reports in the last weeks....:(.....amazing..
But don't give in to ugly.

david jennings
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david jennings 01/26/12 - 06:19 am
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Thanks and good luck to Mr.

Thanks and good luck to Mr. Hendry, I believe the golf course is in good hands now.

wondersnevercease
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wondersnevercease 01/26/12 - 10:47 am
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jtf..please let me know how
Unpublished

jtf..please let me know how you manage to cancel this blasted Subscription.....I have been trying ..and all I get is a online runaround from Press+........

David Parker
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David Parker 01/26/12 - 11:12 am
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Personally I like the

Personally I like the direction things are going, regardless of the $4000.00 difference in money offered for rent by the two "bidders". I am quite curious what the number one reason for choosing less money was. Any ideas or insider info?

Boston93
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Boston93 01/26/12 - 11:24 am
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The fact: If you bid highest,

The fact: If you bid highest, you're normally out unless they don't follow bidding policies. Have played the Patch many times over the years and remember the tournaments they had that were super. It always needed improving, but that's why it was called the patch.

Chief_Broom
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Chief_Broom 01/26/12 - 12:35 pm
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Affinity was going to charge

Affinity was going to charge the city 5K a month to operate the course. The Patch LLC is paying the city 1K a month for a 7 year lease. That's why they went with Hendry. BTW I was quite concerned about how this deal would work out but Hendry and his staff have won me over. The course looks better than ever right now and this is the worst time of year for a golf course that is allowed to go dormant for the Winter season.

David Parker
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David Parker 01/26/12 - 12:36 pm
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Lost some character when the

Lost some character when the card game got teh boot!

Chief_Broom
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Chief_Broom 01/26/12 - 02:39 pm
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I never had a problem with

I never had a problem with the card games or the daily dog fights, but it almost makes you think that the regulars you still see there today were the ones paying all along, but the ones who are now gone...

Riverman1
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Riverman1 01/26/12 - 02:14 pm
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David Parker said,

David Parker said, "Personally I like the direction things are going, regardless of the $4000.00 difference in money offered for rent by the two "bidders". I am quite curious what the number one reason for choosing less money was. Any ideas or insider info?"

Ha, one wanted to charge $4000 while the other is paying $1000. So logical it makes sense even in Augusta.

Willow Bailey
20605
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Willow Bailey 01/26/12 - 08:06 pm
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David, lost some "character"

David, lost some "character" or some "character(S)"?

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