Running a City Golf Course. Is Brigantine up to Challenge?

The Links at Brigantine Golf. The Last Piece of Big Real Estate .

It’s a high value, sizable piece of Real Estate that many would love to control the destiny of. This city asset also plays a large role in the economic rebound of our Island. Increased tourism, retail activity and home values are all connected to the Golf Course. The ‘Links’ golf course, if properly run, could also save city jobs, lower taxes, and provide for better overall awareness of the island.

The city-owned golf course could also sink taxpayers….

The Brigantine golf course could also sink taxpayers….via regular financial bail-outs & levy’s made worse by virtually no marketing and the promotion by the city. Mix in the accelerating tit-for-tat between councilmen with Real Estate law & developer backgrounds, and you have the makings of a taxpayer subsidized ‘battle of the ages’.

Let’s imagine for a moment… the golf course is overhauled, repaired and upgraded. It’s in tip-top condition. Does Brigantine have the internal resources & marketing chops to turn the “all new” golf course into a money maker? We don’t have high hopes for that one. The current management company for ‘The Links’ (Meadowbrook) is doing the best they can with minimal budget, experience & marketing support…all overseen by the city.

For decades, Brigantine leadership has been well known for it’s lack of marketing skills. City Hall is quite proud of that. Ironically, their mission to keep Brigantine a secret has been a great success.

Can placing a link on the clunky, city run BB-NJ.com website be considered a marketing plan? Not likely. To date, the city has avoided posting attractive photos of Brigantine and correcting embarrassing spelling and grammatical errors on the city site. No word yet on whether a new online communications manager will be hired anytime soon.

The refreshed Chamber of Commerce has yet to announce their game plan to promote the Golf Course. But we’re hopeful as they venture out and try to kick start some local commerce on Brigantine Island. ( ex: The involvement of Brigantine Chamber Board of Director; Ken Schaffer, now a 50/50 partner in the Seagull Motel looks promising )

If Brigantine eventually leases the golf course to an outsider….will taxpayers suffer the same fate as the once prestigious Ashbourne Country Club in suburban Philadelphia?

Built in the early 1920’s, The Ashbourne Golf Course & Country Club had a good, long run until it was shuttered in 2006. Those in charge never noticed the changing world around them. Old school managers dug in their heels trying to hold onto the past. Eventually they could hold on no longer. They were forced to sell to an outsider.

The outsider company that came to the rescue is ‘MATRIX’. They were originally positioned as golf course operator. Their try at attracting more golfers failed. Then, magically….MATRIX became a home builder/developer. After a few aggressive, yet unsuccessful moves to get clearance for building 100 homes on a portion of that 100 acre property, it now sits and slowly gets taken back by nature.

The Ashbourne was truly magnificent for a long time. Today…it’s abandoned, overgrown and mired in litigation. It also hurts local home values.


I took a walk thru the old Ashbourne Golf Course & Country Club in Cheltenham Pa, on APRIL 19, 2014.

CLICK TO ENLARGE PICTURES.

Comments

  1. Angela Di Somma says

    Hopefully,the golf course will never be developed.Brigantine needs more than just a beach.It certainly
    doesn’t need more houses…….

  2. Gary Shea says

    Terrific article… though the analogy may not match up with Brigantine’s situation. Ashbourne, though a beautiful facility in its day, always struggled until it was ‘sold’ to Matrix just prior to the crash. Matrix halted the development and yes, the golf course floundered. One of the principles of Matrix was the former President of the NJ Golf Course Owners Association.

    Brigantine is not ‘selling’ their golf course. They are leasing it. They will always maintain ownership and control of the golf course. A qualified golf operator will not need the city’s web site or the Chamber of Commerce to get people to come here to play golf.

    A qualified golf course operator will be motivated by the investment they’d be required to make in the course. (a company that is already proficient in marketing golf)

    Nothing but good can come out of leasing the golf course to qualified people. Nothing but bad can happen if the city continues to try and act as owner/operators with only a management company to run day to day operations.

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