By Alan Prescott
January 11, 2022
In my last article, I reinforced the new golf course (hands-on) management team again. Both Mike Cooney and Blaine Ellerby are instrumental to the re-development of the Fernandina Beach Municipal Golf Course (FBMGC). However, there are several aspects that I’ve apparently neglected to discuss in the past and which are an essential part of the discussion today. I sincerely hope that, at the end of today’s article, both non-golfers, as well as the patrons of FBMGC, will have a better understanding of why the golf course continues to struggle.
Let me pose a few questions. How much turf management experience and golf course operational experience would you say that someone who is an engineer or a medical doctor or a “mayor” or politician have that would qualify them to actually run a 27-hole golf facility? How long would you think that it takes a qualified golf course staff to reverse the damage done after years of neglect? How long would you expect a golf course to survive when being starved of adequate operating capital? How profitable would that golf course be after an elected official published an article (that received national attention in print) stating that, the golf course, that he is responsible for, wasn’t worth playing and that he plays other local courses instead? Why would those people who control the purse strings starve the golf course of money while wasting almost $500,000 on Top Tracer with no restrooms or snack bar and yes, no money allocated to support that investment? WHAT’S GOING ON HERE?
If YOU did the same thing, that never worked, over and over again with the same negative outcome, how would that define YOU? Instead of sweeping all of these problems under the rug or running from them, why don’t we get a group of business savvy individuals who realize the golf course can be profitable to put pressure on the elected official who control the purse strings.
Even though I haven’t been to your golf course in months due to Covid, I will be in Fernandina Beach soon. Honestly, it takes more than 5 months to reverse what 10 years of neglect at the golf course. 2021 was a year of heavy rain and colder than usual temperatures, resulting in a shorter growing season. Even the grass didn’t know, from one day to the next, whether to grow, to drown, or to survive a daily, nature-induced flood.
In sum, I want to thank all of those people who responded to my last article. However, there was one individual (who left a phone number but no email address) that was highly critical. This January 22, is the first anniversary of the appearance of my first article in the Fernandina Observer. I am thankful for the opportunity to contribute. I am thankful for being able to suggest increased wages for the golf course maintenance staff, to write, in part, about my experiences in the golf business, to meet with those who will effect a complete transformation of the FBMGC, those who play the course, and to discuss the concerns of non-golfers in the community.
This discussion is NOT over by any means. There is a considerable discussion about the current status of municipal golf courses in the United States. My next article will discuss what other municipalities have done and are doing and what the results of their efforts have been.
I am Alan Prescott. I can be reached by email at [email protected] I welcome ALL comments and opinions. Their author’s name(s) will remain anonymous. Please be well and remain healthy. Best wishes to all for a healthy and successful 2022.