Submitted by Eric Bartelt
On July 16th, The City Commission held a workshop to review efforts to improve the condition of the Fernandina Beach Municipal Golf Course. Tom Shave, who headed up a citizen committee looking into the deteriorating condition of the course, made his committee’s final report to the Commission. In his presentation, Mr. Shave described considerable improvement to the course since late April, along with areas that needed further work. His committee rated various aspects of the course, such as Greens, Fairways, Roughs, Bunkers, Tees, Irrigation, and Course Marking on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being a superior course (like Augusta National or Pebble Beach) On April 24th, the committee gave the course an overall rating of 4.1. By June 24th, the course had improved overall, earning a rating of 5.2.
During his comments to the Commission, Mr. Shave said he thought it was possible the course could reach a 7.0 rating by early next year. He suggested that if the Fernandina Beach Golf Course could get to a 7.0 – 7.5 rating, that that would be a “great job done.” He said the course will never get to a 10.0 because “our grasses are getting old, we’ve got a lot of shade problems, we’ve got root intrusions.” In his view, the course was once one of the top courses in northeast Florida, and that with proper, ongoing attention it can be a course the City can be proud of.
Following Mr. Shave’s presentation, Doug Bailey, Chair of the Golf Course Advisory Board, made a PowerPoint presentation to the Commission that showed photos of the condition of the course in March and April of this year, and then also in June. His photos reinforced the Shave committee’s conclusion that considerable improvement had been made to the course. He also provided insight into how course deterioration can sometimes be difficult to control, such as unknowingly using a bad batch of seeds, or chemicals applied to sod before delivery, that when combined with the golf course’s chemicals, kills the sod. He also identified some equipment deficiencies that make it more difficult to maintain the course.
Mr. Bailey then outlined the golf course’s past and upcoming events. On June 18th the Freedom Cup was held, during which three Naval bases competing against each other. On Thursday, July 25th a Grand Re-Opening Event will be held to encourage golfers who haven’t been playing to come back and play the City course. Members and Juniors can play for free and there will be reduced rates for the public and military. There will be free food, demonstrations, staff members on the course to talk about changes to the course, competitions with prizes, and evening happy hour and entertainment. And, on August 2nd and 3rd will be a Long Drive Competition.
Mr. Bailey also told the Commissioners about a survey the Golf Course Advisory Board had sent out to 1400 recipients. The survey describes several fund raising options, including selling the unused golf course property on the west side of the course, along 14th St. He said that so far 80% of the survey respondents approved selling that land.
Editor’s Note: Eric Bartelt retired as a corporate design consultant and moved to Fernandina Beach in 2004. His previously lived in Wisconsin. Since Eric’s arrival in Fernandina Beach, he spends his time volunteering, and playing soccer. We thank Eric for his contribution to the Fernandina Observer.
July 18, 2013 2:38 p.m.