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Augusta closes The Patch golf course

Zach Boyden-Holmes/ Staff
Golf cars are loaded up Thursday afternoon at Augusta Municipal Golf Course
Thursday, Sept. 6, 2012 2:21 PM
Last updated Friday, Sept. 7, 2012 1:54 AM
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The city of Augusta quietly closed its once-popular public golf course this week, leaving one city commissioner fuming, a potential course manager losing money he spent on a youth tournament and Club Car employees showing up Thursday to collect 50 golf cars leased to the previous management group.

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Workers with Barwick Transportation load up 50 golf carts from The Patch on Thursday afternoon in Augusta.  ZACH BOYDEN-HOLMES/STAFF
ZACH BOYDEN-HOLMES/STAFF
Workers with Barwick Transportation load up 50 golf carts from The Patch on Thursday afternoon in Augusta.

At the close of business Wednesday, the city shut the Highland Avenue facility, affectionately known as The Patch, with unspecified plans to put the lease or a management deal out for bids, City Administrator Fred Russell said.

The city was hoping to boot Brian Hendry and his Scotland-based management group because it had missed several monthly payments on a lease agreement it had signed with the city last year to manage the course.

Three local brothers – Den­nis, Brian and Pat Kelly – offered to take over the course if certain requests were granted, but the Augusta Commission made a decision behind closed doors Tuesday not to turn over management to them. The brothers wanted the city to repair a leaking roof and fix air conditioning for the clubhouse, and they agreed to honor the dozens of memberships that Hendry’s firm sold. The commission decided not to make the repairs or comply with other requested concessions, so the Kellys backed out.

“We had a good alternative, but they didn’t like it,” an irritated Commissioner Joe Jackson said Thursday, referring to other commission members.

In fact, someone placed a sign at the clubhouse Thurs­day pointing those wanting to play to three commissioners – J.R. Hatney, Bill Lockett and Alvin Mason – and suggesting they were responsible for the public golf course’s closing.

Jackson said those commissioners certainly didn’t help The Golf Course at Augusta LLC, the new firm headed by the Kellys.

Jackson even suggested the city’s handling of the situation might warrant termination of top city personnel.

“Someone’s going home,” he said.

Climent Gardner, a Patch member, was with a group on the 12th tee Wednesday when they were informed the course was closing.

“By the time we got to the clubhouse, there were signs that they were closed,” Gardner said.

Conditions have gone down in recent months, he added.

“The course really got to the point you could lose your ball in the middle of the fairway or in front of the green,” Gardner said. “It was really terrible. It’s something you wouldn’t believe would happen in Augusta, the home of the Masters.”

The brief experience of trying to do business with the city left a bad impression on Dennis Kelly, a longtime player and Patch enthusiast. Kelly said he and his brothers already purchased food and equipment to prepare for the Mayor’s Cup Junior Tournament held the weekend of Aug. 25.

“Nobody’s going to take that clubhouse with inoperable AC,” he said. “It’s over; it’s in the hands of the politicians.”

Representatives from Club Car showed up Thurs­day to take back 50 golf cars and three carry-all maintenance vehicles that had been leased to the previous management group.

Eric Ott, a Club Car service employee, said he hopes the next manager of the course will start a lease with them, and they look forward to seeing Club Car golf cars on the course soon.

“We’ll bring them right back,” he said of the golf cars.

Michael Carlisle, the USC Aiken golf coach and director of the Augusta Area Junior Golf Association, said news of the closing is tough to hear. The golf association held an event at the course during the summer, and Carlisle said the course was in good shape.

“It’s been a great place for people to afford to play,” he said. “This day and time, though, it may not be feasible because every decision is made because of money. If there’s not any money to keep it open, that’s a tough one.”

Staff Writers Chris Gay and David Westin contributed to this article.

Comments (47) Add comment
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OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 09/06/12 - 03:08 pm
9
0
Taxpayer Money

I would hope next go around (if we have too) that Richmond Co. Taxpayers push to have Golf carts like EZ-Go used. After all spending Richmond Co. Tax dollars outside Richmond Co., when it is financially feasible to do so with a MAJOR Richmond Co. employer, does not make good business, or county growth sense. Based on Thursday, Sept. 6, 2012 - Last updated 2:24 PM

justthefacts
21902
Points
justthefacts 09/06/12 - 03:27 pm
5
0
Open Curtain

With no regard to costs??

Little Lamb
46022
Points
Little Lamb 09/06/12 - 03:52 pm
6
0
Well,

there's always walking.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 09/06/12 - 03:54 pm
5
0
So there's nobody to stop me

So there's nobody to stop me from walking the course with my clubs? I play much better when money isn't involved anyway.

rocketserve
280
Points
rocketserve 09/06/12 - 04:11 pm
4
0
Better get there quick...
Unpublished

David, you better head out there before the grass gets high...

Little Lamb
46022
Points
Little Lamb 09/06/12 - 04:33 pm
4
0
Mowing

Hey, remember that guy (I think his name was Anthony Esposito) who organized volunteers and mowed the grass at the Golf Hall of Fame Gardens one summer? Maybe he will do the same thing for the patch for the rest of this summer. The city could put up indemnification signs saying, "Play at your own risk." Free golf will return to the Patch.

bdouglas
5034
Points
bdouglas 09/06/12 - 04:36 pm
5
0
High grass...

@rocket The grass is always high where my ball ends up anyway...

On another note...somebody should hire that "Club Car service employee" Eric to a PR department! His statements were exactly the kind of scripted, unoffensive things you hear from most high dollar spokespeople and he was just there to pick up the carts!

Little Lamb
46022
Points
Little Lamb 09/06/12 - 04:44 pm
2
3
Subsidy

From the story:

Michael Carlisle, the USC Aiken golf coach . . . said, “It’s been a great place for people to afford to play.”

Yeah, thanks to the subsidies of Augusta property tax payers.

scamp1
103
Points
scamp1 09/06/12 - 04:49 pm
2
2
ASU tried to buy the Patch

ASU tried to buy the Patch about 5 years ago, but Lockett and the "Save the Patch" committee said NO! (Check out ASU's 20 year Master Plan) The purchase of the Patch was put as an alternative, and ASU agreed to be a "fall back option" if the committee failed to save the Patch. The city gave ASU 9 acres west of Damascus Road, and ASU began other property aquisition west of Damascus. The Master Plan included the BOR approved new nursing building ($1.1 million was spent on its design), a new BOR approved student center, and more housing west of Damascus. Now, Azziz has nixed this Master Plan, thrown out all the BOR principles of master planning and developed his own plan which does, in fact, included buildings taller than four stories on Walton Way.

Jake
32552
Points
Jake 09/06/12 - 05:20 pm
4
1
Sad day

I'm sorry that this has happened. I bet Red Douglas is turning over in his grave. The Patch has so much potential and the Kelly brothers were willing to invest in it. They indeed got "screwed". Just goes to show you what good intentions will sometimes bring you.

SON of Scoob
434
Points
SON of Scoob 09/06/12 - 06:00 pm
7
0
Clowns Downtown

This is a real shame for the city. Yet another. If Tom Beck had not been lynched by the Clowns he would be able, with his expertise, to keep the course open until permanent management can be found. And keep in mind this is the time of year when cash flow is best for golf courses.

Don't think the Clowns can successfully run a lemonade stand.

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 09/06/12 - 06:22 pm
3
0
In my defense

JusttheFacts. in my defense I did say ..."when it is financially feasible".

Does it not make sense to use Richmond Co. businesses

    when it is financially feasible

?

Every taxpayer penny spend in county, generally speaking, supports the Richmond Co. local economy.

Why spend taxpayer money hiring non county businesses to do County related work? I mean businesses that don't give have a business office in county and likely will never hire 1 of the 1,000's looking for work here in Richmond Co.?

Willow Bailey
20580
Points
Willow Bailey 09/06/12 - 06:42 pm
1
2
Well, do you want to promote

Well, do you want to promote competition and excellent business practices or foster good ole boy tactics?

rmwhitley
5547
Points
rmwhitley 09/06/12 - 06:46 pm
1
0
politicians,
Unpublished

at their finest.

CobaltGeorge
159028
Points
CobaltGeorge 09/06/12 - 06:51 pm
3
1
Sad

Real Sad, Politics and lack of Common Sense. There is absolutely no reason why the Patch could not have been saved.

Augusta resident
1368
Points
Augusta resident 09/06/12 - 07:25 pm
3
1
Where's countyman?

Maybe this is where the drag strip will be built. Marion Williams is back in the thick of things.

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 09/06/12 - 07:59 pm
6
0
Are we surprised? Nope, not at all...

This is what we get when we hold secret meetings in backrooms.

Can any commissioner cite the Georgia code section that allowed them to meet in secret?

southern2
6142
Points
southern2 09/06/12 - 08:06 pm
5
1
I'll bet if it was located on

I'll bet if it was located on Laney Walker Blvd the repairs would have been approved. Guess we will have another grown up mess like the Golf Hall of Disaster.

just an opinion
2638
Points
just an opinion 09/06/12 - 08:47 pm
4
0
Mr.'s JR Hatney, Alvin Mason & Bill Lockett closed it down!

This is what happens when you don't give them what they want. Them and their friends come first, the city somewhere after that.

gargoyle
17129
Points
gargoyle 09/06/12 - 08:58 pm
4
1
As the TEE center rises

As the TEE center rises everything else falls apart ! Wait till the Ball Field downtown breaks ground ,All facilities outside The Four Square Miles will have to line up for beggar's scraps

belle
307
Points
belle 09/06/12 - 09:05 pm
1
0
Disappointed
Unpublished

This is my first disappointment with Bill Lockett. This time, you are wrong Bill. This is not something you throw out there for the lowest bidder. Also, I don't get how the commissioners can choose NOT to use the $300,000 the voters allocated for the patch. Why ask them to vote if you are going to choose to ignore them.

countyman
20129
Points
countyman 09/06/12 - 09:46 pm
3
3
That's interesting since the

That's interesting since the Diamond Lakes park has probably received more tax money since it opened(2005) compared to any other recreation facility...

I can't understand the downtown conspiracy theory when the majority of commissioners are from South Augusta..

Downtown is the heart beat of the metro/CSRA, and that fact can't be replaced..

I seriously hope certain people don't think the entire previous commission supported the Laney Walker/Bethlehem development.. Augusta is doing better in terms of being progressive, but were not that far along yet... Even though we have proof in Olde Town neighborhoods can attract upwardly mobile people.. The national and state recognition for the Laney Walker/Bethelehm is thanks to the TEE center..

slowpitch
119
Points
slowpitch 09/06/12 - 09:37 pm
5
2
Good for Hatney, Mason and Lockett!

I'm newish to Augusta, but I can't for the life of me understand why the city should be investing tens of thousands (or losing hundreds of thousands operating the course itself) in a golf course!

SELL THIS THING to the highest bidder.

There are so many issues facing the city, why would we want to be diverting tax dollars to maintaining this course? The Patch's 119 acres are assessed at $1.1m, Forest Hills is assessed at $3.4m for 225 acres. Is it realistic to think the Patch could fetch $1.5 at an auction? That's a whole bunch of patrol cars, school books, tourism marketing, etc.

scorehouse
196
Points
scorehouse 09/06/12 - 09:44 pm
1
0
who cares?
Unpublished

public didn't support the course. got snookered by the limeys! lol!

gottcha
29
Points
gottcha 09/06/12 - 11:00 pm
2
1
The worst commission

Without a doubt the worst commission(we had some bad ones) we have ever had when it comes to protecting and running this City. Fire Fred keep Fred, Parking Deck, Tea Center, Renovations to the old courthouse, Baseball stadium over and over and did I mention Fire Fred. This is what happens when the commission gets out of balance. Matt must go!! We will worry with the other seats next year

allhans
23651
Points
allhans 09/06/12 - 11:12 pm
2
0
Nothing is easy for this

Nothing is easy for this commission it seems. One screw-up after another.

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 09/06/12 - 11:41 pm
4
1
Oops

By the way, any "decision" made by the commissioners behind closed doors is null and void because it was an illegally held meeting.

Even if the commissioners had a valid reason (which they didn't), elected officials are never allowed to vote in secret.

I'm still waiting for any commissioner to defend the decision to hide from the public and to meet in secret....

sand gnat
510
Points
sand gnat 09/07/12 - 12:16 am
0
3
Section 8 housing

With all the govt./taxpayer subsidized housing recently built along the lower end of Laney Walker being such a success, why not take this land
where the Patch is and build a massive Section 8 neighborhood. I can invision a large outdoor park in the center, nature trails, perhaps a par 3 golf course, even swim and tennis and a neigborhood school on the complex. It would be convenient to the mall and Daniel Village. Good for business. A win/win propositon.

gargoyle
17129
Points
gargoyle 09/07/12 - 12:34 am
1
0
There are many historic sites

There are many historic sites around here, The Patch being one. To hear it told by Countyman and his cohort’s only Four Square Miles downtown have historic value or are worthy of investment. The downtown in my opinion is not the heartbeat of Metro/CSRA , Look to the hard working communities outside the politically touted sectors to find that beat. People who get up to work every day paired with industry to form a partnership that glues our community together. Business invests far more than given credit for in the wellbeing of our city .The short sighted self serving hypocrites in Government pat there self on the back and tells us what a good job they've done after others pay the price. Taxpayers paid for Diamond Lakes park and most would call it a good investment used by the public for recreation daily. As our elected leadership funnels monies into business partnerships the community wellness will suffer. Tax dollars that get lost making deals can not improve infrastructure in the community.

Riverman1
84036
Points
Riverman1 09/07/12 - 04:45 am
5
1
Ft. Discovery, the Georgia

Ft. Discovery, the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame and The Patch. Turn out the lights on your way out.

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