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Patch now under local management

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Eight months into its lease of Augusta Municipal Golf Course to a scottish businessman, the city is booting his company for three Augusta brothers intent on making The Patch a successful operation.

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Former Patch chairman Brian Hendry (right) spoke at a ribbon cutting ceremony on Jan. 25. Hendry is losing control of the course to three Augusta brothers after failing to pay rent.  EMILY ROSE BENNETT/FILE
EMILY ROSE BENNETT/FILE
Former Patch chairman Brian Hendry (right) spoke at a ribbon cutting ceremony on Jan. 25. Hendry is losing control of the course to three Augusta brothers after failing to pay rent.

In a move pushed by Mayor Pro Tem Joe Bowles, Dennis, Pat and Brian Kelly, whose father was a founding member of the “Irish Mafia” golf group that has frequented The Patch since the 1950s, were assigned Friday the lease held by Aberdeen, Scotland businessman Brian Hendry under his firm The Patch in Augusta LLC.

“We just decided that we needed to do it,” said Dennis Kelly, who also serves as the chief financial officer for Morris Visitor Publications. “Brian’s a good mechanic; Pat’s a good front man; and I’m good with the numbers and legal. Together we’re a pretty good team.”

After learning last week of Hendry’s failure to make rent payments at the course since March, the brothers vied with several other interested groups to become its new lessee. Bowles contacted commissioners Thursday about assigning Hendry’s lease to the Kellys, and six commissioners and Hendry’s firm agreed, Bowles said.

Hendry and Patch golf pro Ronnie MacDonald, who was denied re-entry into the United States earlier this year because of a visa issue, did not reply to e-mailed requests for comment.

“I think they were well-intentioned,” Dennis Kelly said. “The golf courses in Scotland are considerably different, and I don’t think you apply the same golf course management techniques.”

The Kellys hope some loyal Patch players who went elsewhere after Hendry instituted new rules – against card games, for example – will return, he said.

“That’s a good clientele that play 18 holes, then want to relax, have a sandwich and a beer and play cards,” Dennis Kelly said. “That’s fine; they do that at every country club I’ve been to. Why shouldn’t you be able to do so at The Patch?”

According to Bowles, the terms of the lease will remain the same, including the $1,000 monthly rent, although Hendry’s firm is returning to the city some $80,000 in existing golf course equipment it purchased to cover any liability from existing annual memberships Hendry and MacDonald sold.

Commissioners considered it a bargain when they voted last year to trade what had become as much as $300,000 in annual operating losses at the golf course under city management for the $1,000 monthly rent payment. Hendry said he hoped to cover any losses by playing host to international visitors during Masters Week.

Since Masters Week, when Hendry said participation wasn’t quite what he hoped for, local players have complained of poor conditions at the Highland Avenue course.

“We think they skimped on fertilizer, weed killer and the necessary supplies for grounds maintenance,” Dennis Kelly said. “I just don’t think they had the money for that.”

Hendry, who owns rental properties in Augusta, came in with a flourish and planned to incorporate the course’s Scottish roots — it was designed in the early 1920s by Scotsman David Ogilvie, who developed Bon Air Golf Club in the 18-hole course that is now Augusta Country Club. He visited Ogilvie’s grandson in Chicago for details, created a Web site and “Patch” patch complete with a tiny cabbage and officially renamed the course “The Patch” for its familiar nickname.

Patch players, including those who have purchased annual memberships, should expect a seamless transition, Bowles said.

Bowles and Commissioners Joe Jackson, Jerry Brigham, Corey Johnson, Wayne Guilfoyle and Matt Aitken supported assigning the lease to the Kellys, Bowles said.

Brigham said the Kellys are “very capable” of taking on the lease.

“Local management will be good for The Patch and good for the city,” he said.

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Riverman1
79107
Points
Riverman1 08/24/12 - 01:36 pm
7
2
What a flamboyant sham Hendry

What a flamboyant sham Hendry was. Send the bill collectors after him. Rename that first hole too.

harley_52
22064
Points
harley_52 08/24/12 - 02:33 pm
6
0
Did Hendry have...

...a reasonable Business Plan when he convinced the Commission to give him the contract? I never played there while he ran it, but I heard horror stories about him, his new dress code, etc.. Did he have any background for running a golf course?

David Parker
7921
Points
David Parker 08/24/12 - 03:54 pm
3
1
I didn't even get invited to

I didn't even get invited to a Sunday Scramble. C'mon Mr. Hendry, step it up or step aside.

SemperParatus
3225
Points
SemperParatus 08/24/12 - 04:52 pm
5
0
Five months behind?

Who in Augusta government has allowed the renter to get five months behind? Are you kidding me? Augusta should have severed ties with the renter long before now. What does the rental agreement call for in terms of late payments? I have never heard of such. Almost a half year late in payments to us!

tanbaby
1293
Points
tanbaby 08/24/12 - 05:16 pm
0
1
i could be mistaken, but
Unpublished

i could be mistaken, but didn't this guy about crap his pants to get control of the patch?????

Jake
31605
Points
Jake 08/24/12 - 06:09 pm
3
0
Good news

I wish the best for the Kelly brothers in this venture. When I played the Patch the week after the Masters this year I was very disappointed in the course condition. No improvements to speak of and the course was in better condition under the city of Augusta's maintenance than with Mr Hendry's.

No_Longer_Amazed
5143
Points
No_Longer_Amazed 08/24/12 - 06:15 pm
2
1
A question ......

Does this mean that the Kelly's will get to use the $300,000 in city sales tax funds that Hendry was denied?

rmwhitley
5526
Points
rmwhitley 08/24/12 - 06:20 pm
0
0
You elect
Unpublished

your commissioners, it's your responsibility to investigate them before you elect them. "What's in it for me" includes contracts made by the commission and with an attitude "it's taxpayer money" so if it goes bust we'll just say we made a mistake. See if they don't do that quite often? I used to love "The Patch".

Bantana
2071
Points
Bantana 08/24/12 - 06:53 pm
0
1
.

.

nocnoc
38228
Points
nocnoc 08/24/12 - 08:09 pm
2
1
Question

I remember something about certain commissioner(s) catching Hades from a local radio personality, local groups and the paper on something about voting against a NON-USA based operator...the Scottish Groups offer.

It looks like the city otherwise would have been on the hook for $100's Thousands and no way to collect.

Anybody remember the commissioner names and if he/they plan to send a crow pie over to the radio person and others?

nocnoc
38228
Points
nocnoc 08/25/12 - 10:01 am
2
1
FOUND IT

Updated and corrected facts and content.

Here is the article from last year jumping on the commissioners.
I guess a few commissioners can feel vindicated now.
Other still can claim saving the County taxpayers $$$$ because it was money not wasted by the county also.

http://chronicle.augusta.com/opinion/letters/2011-07-23/city-made-wrong-...

joebowles
104
Points
joebowles 08/24/12 - 09:19 pm
4
1
Knock knock

My tax paying constituents thank me everyday for saving the city $165,000 so far this year by not subsidizing the GOV run course.
Course is still open and dollars being saved every day.
What are your ideas to save this kind of money from the General Fund?

Justin4466
43
Points
Justin4466 08/25/12 - 06:28 am
2
1
Looking back, the taunted

Looking back, the taunted group of commissioners Hatney, Locket, and Mason are now looking like prophets. They were blasted on every front for being rebels, progress blockers, naysayers, and probably worst. They constantly asked for patience and common sense on matters like the patch, city bus service, reorganization, Tee Center and probably more but were castigated for doing so. Why were they not listened to? Was it because of their approach, tone, or bad timing?

auggaguy
39
Points
auggaguy 08/25/12 - 07:50 am
0
0
Very capable businessmen

I can think of no one better to run the course than the Kelly brothers. The best of luck to them.

AugustaChile
6
Points
AugustaChile 08/25/12 - 08:02 am
4
0
The Patch

I heard that the Kelly brothers, despite the results of a nationwide poll, told a Chronicle reporter that they had decided to rename The Patch.....get ready for it..... Georgia Regents Golf Course. Say what!!?? Of course that's just some loyal Augustan humor. Unlike outsiders that come into Augusta and believe that we locals "ain't got nary an idear 'bout 'portant stuff", Dennis, Brian and Pat Kelly know the importance of loyalty and commitment to their community. I hope everyone, golfers and citizens, support their efforts to keep The Patch alive and well!

seenitB4
81033
Points
seenitB4 08/25/12 - 08:32 am
2
0
WAY TO GO!

I know them all veeeery ell......they will do a fantastic job.....they love Augusta---the people in Augusta....good times are coming for the Patch!

Perfect match!

seenitB4
81033
Points
seenitB4 08/25/12 - 08:38 am
1
0
Dennis said...

“We just decided that we needed to do it,” said Dennis Kelly, who also serves as the chief financial officer for Morris Visitor Publications. “Brian’s a good mechanic; Pat’s a good front man; and I’m good with the numbers and legal. Together we’re a pretty good team.”

Yep.....yall are that!

justthefacts
20249
Points
justthefacts 08/25/12 - 08:48 am
0
0
Bowles

Bowles had a better alternative. One that had proven success at Forest Hills. But, it was rejected.

nocnoc
38228
Points
nocnoc 08/25/12 - 09:49 am
2
0
The Saving General Funds question

A few general ideas, like every taxpayer in South Richmond Co. Please note: I did not say AUGUSTA, because too many of us on my side of town see DOWNTOWN as a money pit sucking needed growth and improvement funds out of South Augusta while dooming the South Side to stagnation and decay.

SOAP BOX OFF
A few general suggestions that go to the core of operations.

* Stop or reduce all expenditures that do not directly benefit Richmond Co. and that encourage increased development outside the county.

* Lawyer proof contracts. - Recently too many local lawyers seem to be making a good living suing the county for poorly thought-out contracts and outright issues that should have been avoided from the get go. Example: a Floating Parking Deck. A foreign operated local golf course scenario, wrongful terminations and etc...

* Believe this or not, the CSRA has enough public golf courses. A government run business is seldom are more than a money pit and a pork barrel buffet. There are too many basic infrastructure needs in Richmond co. for the Government to waste or overlook $300K a year just to have a yet another golf course that is played by less than 3,000 people each year. Sell the land and/or expand Daniel Field operations.

* Start charging the going water rates to all businesses and golf courses. Why should any place get Millions gallons of water for under $250 a month, while county residents pay a higher price to subsidize their use?

* Look at every $200+K expenditure or tax omission and ask a basic question: Does it benefit Richmond Co. as a whole or at least show a ROI (Return On Investment) each year?

* Quit using taxpayer money promoting move new things downtown like building a new stadium downtown. Get out of the business of propping up any business with county taxpayer money. If it ain't self supporting it ain't working, as one politician once said.
ROI all projects.

* Tabulate what Fred Russel has cost the county in past years by his mistakes. Revamp his position and replace it with a NON-politically controlled office, with strict guidelines and limited, but clear narrow authority.

* Quit dressing up a few special roads each year just in time for Masters.

* Augusta Transit - Is it really worth what it costs to transport less than 1.5 passengers per mile traveled? based on their own figures of <3000 passengers traveling 2300 miles per day. For this price you could have community based mini-buses doing it at 1/2 the cost per year. Hire bus drivers at school bus driver wages.

* Move the 911 operation back under RCSO control and cut out dozens of unnecessary management positions. Streamline 911 to RCSO communications process. Reduce and/or Eliminate the list of really dumb questions that have to be asked callers by 911 operators because of cookie cutter computer program. Cutting down on the call to next next call times and reduces staff requirements. BUT have a merit system hire, promote an fire process for those employees who are not LEO's. Add the ability to use SMART phones app's to handle emergency calls with all the data handled by a computer and sent to dispatch. Thus reducing duplicate 911 calls which just provide the same data and waste staff time.

* Go over the Purchased/Contracted Services with a fine tooth comb. Then comb it out again with a lice comb.

* Have a process that rewards employes for cutting waste and not one that see them getting demoted or the 1st to be cut.

* ZERO LINE every departments budget every 2 years. Make every department justify its budget every 2 years, not just add on to what was OK 5, 10 or 15 years before.

* Re-evaluate the use and cost of Augusta Waste treatment facilities ability generated Natural Gas to power many county vehicles. This is one natural resource we have a lot of and the suppliers are charged for producing it and charged for delivering it to the county.

* Get Richmond co. out of the business of trying to be a business, it is a Government. Not a Golf Course operator, not a Sports venue owner, not a Hotel operator, and not should not be a public construction builder for any property that does not house Government services.

Riverman1
79107
Points
Riverman1 08/25/12 - 09:14 am
2
0
I thought Grady Smith was the

I thought Grady Smith was the one who wanted to use the Forest Hills management group? By the way, anyone know how Grady is doing?

justthefacts
20249
Points
justthefacts 08/25/12 - 09:18 am
0
0
River

You are right. My bad. Why do you ask about Smith. Something wrong?

Riverman1
79107
Points
Riverman1 08/25/12 - 09:33 am
0
0
JTF. well, I don't want to

JTF. well, I don't want to say something wrong, but I heard he is in the hospital. I'd rather someone who knows for sure get into the specifics with Grady's okay.

fishman960
1420
Points
fishman960 08/25/12 - 11:02 am
1
0
Kelly's

I know of the Kelly's and they are of the finest integrity! Hopefully they will be able to make the patch highly successful!

Conservative Man
5295
Points
Conservative Man 08/25/12 - 11:11 am
2
1
One question...

Dennis says he's good with numbers and legal....If it's the same Dennis Kelly I remember,he wasn't so hot with numbers and legal when he was running, Healthmaster....just sayin'

seenitB4
81033
Points
seenitB4 08/25/12 - 11:50 am
1
0
They said..

“Local management will be good for The Patch and good for the city,”

AMEN to that!

Riverman1
79107
Points
Riverman1 08/25/12 - 11:55 am
1
0
SeenIt, NOW the bell has

SeenIt, NOW the bell has rung. Email me.

seenitB4
81033
Points
seenitB4 08/25/12 - 11:57 am
1
0
rm

ok if you say please...:)

Riverman1
79107
Points
Riverman1 08/25/12 - 12:00 pm
1
0
Ha, you already had.

Ha, you already had.

dichotomy
30375
Points
dichotomy 08/25/12 - 12:15 pm
0
0
Well, they finally made the

Well, they finally made the right decision after losing only $5K. Too bad they can't make better decisions about the $40 million (if you include the original $7 million we spent on the hotel) that we have forked over to Paul and "associates" for THEIR hotel, TEE, parking deck, and elevated crosswalk. Hey, but let's nip that $1K a month in the bud. After all, Paul & "associates" might need to enclose and HVAC that crosswalk.

seenitB4
81033
Points
seenitB4 08/25/12 - 12:17 pm
1
0
Bell

You got to watch the bell ringing.....makes you deaf B4 your time...
anyway good luck to the new crew.....have a drink for me! shucks ..I just may take up golf.....and drinking....and cards.....cigars...:)

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