Originally created 11/29/06

Players focus on game, not audit results



In the balmy gray of Tuesday afternoon, Olen Blackmon pointed at burnt-orange leaves falling from an oak at Augusta Municipal Golf Course.

"I love the game and the environment out here," he said near the clubhouse after finishing his round.

The serenity of those falling leaves belied the controversy stemming from an audit of the golf course that shows numerous irregularities in its operations, including violations of purchase policies, failure to verify credit card sales and a substantial amount of missing beer.

The results of the audit by Baird & Co. have been turned over to the Richmond County Sheriff's Office for investigation.

But some regulars said they felt as Mr. Blackmon does: The audit has nothing to do with their play on the course and doesn't really affect them.

"This is the first time I've played in over three years. I can tell you that the personnel have changed here and definitely for the better," said Mr. Blackmon, 77, who had begun playing again after several surgeries kept him away from the game.

"Last time I was out here, two or three years ago, I was never happy with the people in the pro shop. Now they've changed, and they're much better. I'm considering joining the club."

Other golfers expressed similar opinions, and also said that they hoped the city doesn't sell the course.

Others, though, such as Harry Cheeks, who was completing his scorecard before leaving with a few golfing buddies, said he welcomed an examination of the course.

"They need to do something with the course," he said. "It's in pitiful shape.

"We've been out here twice in two months, and they don't seem to do anything with it. ... They just let it go."

Baird & Co. was asked to audit the course's finances in the wake of course manager Guy Reid's resignation Oct. 19.

Mr. Reid had managed the course for nine years.

One golfer defended Mr. Reid on Tuesday.

"I don't think half of what's going on is Guy Reid's fault," George English said. "He made it a beautiful course to play."

"It's a lot better than a racetrack," Mr. English said.

Reach Jeremy Craig at (706) 823-3409 or jeremy.craig@augustachronicle.com.