Brigantine Golf Course is Playable, Not Profitable

Brigantine is Talking: From Gary Shea  >>>

By now many of the residents of Brigantine have heard that only  a few proposals for the long term lease of the golf course have been submitted by the deadline. The fact that only a few proposals, out of the 9 reputable and successful golf course ownership groups that attended the initial meeting were submitted should be viewed as a statement on the perceived future profitability of the golf course in a overall shrinking industry.

The majority of the ownership groups within the golf course industry are less than willing to risk investment in new or existing properties without some sort of promising financial history or possibilities, which unfortunately the Brigantine Golf course does not have at the current time.

The GM, Nathan Robbins and in particular, the superintendant, Tom Dale with the assistance of a terrific staff including long time head professional Jason Wiegand and teaching professional Gabriel DeLiberty have done an absolutely outstanding job in keeping things together at the golf course despite the operating budgetary restrictions. Despite their best efforts and some pretty agreeable weather starting back in early June,  based on the most recent numbers from the city, the golf course will probably lose money again this year not including the near $400,000 bond payment from the original purchase that will still have to be made.

The golf course is a very important part of this community.  Let’s hope that future discussions concerning the lease proposals will not include the hysteria, personal attacks and mis-information that accompanied the earlier discussions and that are continuing today. These histrionics only served to drag out for over a year and half, what should have been a simple and quick process to the point where, like most of the golf course industry, perceived value of our golf course property continued to decrease which severely limited the negotiating leverage the city could have had as well as other options the city could have considered. It served no positive purpose to the city or its residents.

At this point in time, it would seem that most residents, even those with no interest in golf, understand the difference between a ‘playable’ golf course and a golf course that is competitive within a struggling resort market that itself within the last year, experienced its own inherent problems and failures.

Any golf course can be deemed ‘playable’ and Brigantine’s golf course is very playable but whether it is ‘competitive’ within its existing market is another story and the numbers don’t lie.

Many of the local resident/golfers have legitimate concerns about the process of leasing the golf course and many of them also have had the opportunity to play rounds of golf at other local competing properties prompting several of them to acknowledge that the Brigantine Golf Course does in fact need considerable work in order to measure up to the area’s other facilities in order to be profitable in not only a declining market but a declining industry as well.  Most of the remaining opponents of the long term lease, though few in number, are probably more motivated by election year ‘silly’ season politics than what may or may not be good for all the taxpayers.

Most Brigantine residents seem to understand that simply put, the golf course business is not a great business to invest in with their tax dollars at this point in time or for the foreseeable future as opposed to the point in time when the golf course was purchased by the city which could have been considered an opportune time.  In other words, it may have been a good idea then however, its not a good idea now and again, the fact that only a few proposals out of 9 possible were submitted is pretty much proof of that.

Brigantine residents should be realistic about what the current situation is with the golf course and what is being proposed by the golf operators.  A proposal that provides a respectable amount of investment representing a considerable commitment to the golf course’s long term success by the golf operator as well as regular revenue to the city and removes the politicians of both parties from the ownership decision making process, is a good proposal.

It is really that simple.

Gary Shea

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