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Commissioners play Patch, consider possible Paine deal

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Four Augusta commissioners got a first-hand look at conditions at Augusta Municipal Golf Course Wednesday and revealed plans that could involve Paine College in the course’s comeback.

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Commissioners Wayne Guilfoyle (from left), Corey Johnson, Joe Jackson and Joe Bowles prepare to play at The Patch.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
Commissioners Wayne Guilfoyle (from left), Corey Johnson, Joe Jackson and Joe Bowles prepare to play at The Patch.

Closed a week ago when negotiations with a private firm fell through, the city-owned public course reopened Monday under city management, offering free rounds through the week but no golf cars or refreshments.

Their golf bags on pull-carts, Mayor Pro Tem Joe Bowles and commissioners Joe Jackson, Wayne Guilfoyle and Corey Johnson joked about one another’s swings, some sipping beers as they played four holes together.

As they played, City Administrator Fred Russell, Paine golf coach Herman Belton and Brandon Brown, Paine vice president for institutional advancement, talked business in the clubhouse.

“We’re negotiating some opportunities,” Russell said he’d been made aware of Tuesday in a meeting with Paine President George Bradley. The opportunities could bring “stability and expertise” to the course, Russell said.

The historically black college’s golf team currently plays at Jones Creek Golf Course, “but golf is golf,” Belton said.

The deal involving Paine would be short-term, “possibly until the first of the year,” Johnson said. “It would give us some time to see before we lease it back out.”

Belton, a golf pro, would “be on loan” as interim course manager, Jackson said. “He’s excellent. I would support that.”

Russell previously estimated it would take up to 40 days to issue a request for proposals from firms interested in running the course, known to most by its nickname, “The Patch.”

Built in the early 1920s, the public course operated for decades under the management of Red Douglas, for whom its clubhouse is named. Since consolidation, however, city recreation staff haven’t been able to break even and the course typically operates at a loss.

Bowles, an advocate for city government to get out of the golf business, said last year’s loss was more than $200,000.

“Just breaking even would be a plus,” Johnson said of the next few months. “We’re the capital city of golf, we should have a course for citizens to play,” he said.

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soapy_725 09/13/12 - 06:14 am
Letting Paine manage a business?

Will wonders ever cease? Lets look at Paine's credentials before we "contract" with them. ARC taxpayers may be signing up to bankroll the college in exchange for "Money Management 101" at the Patch.

Sell it the ANGC and extend the runways.

wayne1 09/13/12 - 08:08 am
The Patch

Last summer a friend of mine and I played the Patch on a Saturday afternoon. I paid with a bankcard and my friend paid with cash. Due to the weather we could only play 9 holes so we tried to get a raincheck. I received a raincheck but they had no record of my friend paying with cash. I wonder what happened to the cash???????????

OpenCurtain 09/13/12 - 10:01 am
Now the PR campaign kicks in....

What more can be said they are trying to make the best of a really screwed up situation by spinning (slicing & hooking) the problem.

But I guess it makes sense given the reported financial problems of Paine College.

Look for the latest Re-Re-Re-Re-Re Grand Reopening.

triscuit 09/13/12 - 10:45 am
Paine College cannot keep

Paine College cannot keep it's own finances in order. So of course, the city wants to let them "manage" something else. Unfrigginbelievable.

Old Timmer
Old Timmer 09/13/12 - 03:10 pm

What was this a ceremonial 4 holes for the re-opening. The problem with the Patch is all this crowd plays free. Run it like a business not like the city government is run.

scgator 09/13/12 - 03:45 pm
The ONLY thing wrong with

The ONLY thing wrong with the Patch is that it needs to be run like a business and not "someone's" personal golf club. I have been invited to play the Patch many times by some of the former staff there; I was ALWAYS told not to worry about the money, we can play for free. I NEVER took them up on the offer. I was also told that one of the reasons the staff had a "did not care" attitude was that the city kept "redirecting" the money that the Patch took in for the Newman Tennis Center. Who knows ??? I do know this; if the city will stay out of the way politically, and let the course be run like it is a private enterprise, it will survive..................and this talk about "working a deal with Paine College". In light of their recent financial fiasco's, how can Emperor Russell even entertain that idea.................

intheknow1 09/13/12 - 11:43 pm
Take a Closer Look.....

Three Brothers - Simply ask for help to get The Patch open again...

Commissioners Refuse....

What to do.....


Consider Paine College - Yea thats the answer
- The are being investigated for Financial PROBLEMS
- They cannot pay their bills
-How can they support the negative cashflow to get the course back in shape
-That doesnt really matter we (the commissioners) can help the school because they are a minority organization
-Thats better than the brothers - we couldnt give them money but we can do it for Paine because it makes us look good
-oh yea....Paine cant pay their bills but im sure they can fund the operations of the course for several months...we can find a way to hide that money.......

This sounds like the perfect solution....

If this deal moves forward...

Someone should request the monthly financials for the public to review and as soon as the city gives money to fund operations full disclosure should take place and the commissioners should be held accountable

did I mention....Paine cannot manage their own money...neither can the commission.....sounds like a perfect match...

justputtin 09/14/12 - 01:43 pm

I have never read so many comments that i agree with wholeheartedly! I sincerely hope Paine thrives and succeeds in everything they do as a longtime school in Augusta but damn, how the commissioners can look anyone in the eye that by making these idiotic, desperate decisions need to be replaced. This is obviously an attempt to continue the freeloaders playing free golf among other less than admirable motives.

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