Brigantine is Talking: Meadowbrook Golf, Mike Morgan and City Council

In the matter of Meadowbrook Golf and Mike Morgan …From Gary Shea:

Dear Editor, Recently there has been considerable discussion about Meadowbrook Golf.  Who they are, who do they represent and who represents them?  It was particularly painful to watch the Mayor and Councilman Simpson attempt to answer questions concerning Meadowbrook once again demonstrating that they really don’t understand the golf business nor do they seem to know a ‘golf course management company’s’ function.

However residents should understand that Meadowbrook is not the problem nor is Mike Morgan running the food & beverage the problem. Those attacking either arrangement are simply looking in the wrong direction.

No matter what Golf Course Management company is running your golf course or regardless of who is operating your food & beverage, it is still the ownership group that makes the final decisions. In the case of Brigantine it is the City Council, none of whom have any experience in the golf business and most of whom have no experience in business, period!

Meadowbrook’s real area of expertise is golf course maintenance. In the late 90’s and early 2000’s, they got involved in golf course ownership and management and at the time the city first hired them, they owned or managed over 70 golf courses including the Philadelphia area city owned municipal golf courses.

Since that time, they have by planned sales of facilities and/or loss of contracts, worked their way out of the golf course ownership and management business possibly because they saw the downward trend in the business that is affecting all golf operators.  Currently they only have Brigantine as their one remaining golf course management client and that is only because Brigantine has chose to continue to keep them on as at most, an administrative element since their contract was up in the fall of 2012. However, they are still a credible and respectable golf course maintenance company and may provide some assistance and expertise in that area.

However, it is fair to say that since 2002, Meadowbrook has received in the neighborhood of 2 million dollars from the city of Brigantine … about the same amount that the Brigantine taxpayers are probably going to end up paying for the golf course by the time it is paid off. But again, it is not Meadowbrook that has been making the financial decisions. It is the city of Brigantine or more specifically, the city council who currently are under the allusion that the Food & Beverage operation at the golf course will help to bring in more golfers.

The Mayor even went as far as to suggest that having Mr. Morgan run the food & beverage would make the golf course more attractive for another possible long term lease arrangement.  This is an absolute falsehood and demonstrates why these people are simply unqualified to make the decisions involved in owning a golf course.

Since 2002, I have organized an average of 150 golf trips a year to the destinations that I work with. With an average of 8 golfers per trip, that’s about 1200 golfers per year or about 15,000 or more golfers since I retired and opened my little golf travel business. Many of those travelers played our local golf course and stayed in local rental properties that I set up for them. Not one client of mine has ever answered the question, “What golf courses would you like to play?” with the answer, “Which courses has the best food & beverage.”  Why? Because food & beverage is an amenity to the golf … not the other way around and that is accepted universally amongst all who work in the golf industry.

As long as the City Council, regardless of their political affiliation, is making the decisions concerning the golf course, particularly in the current industry environment, I wouldn’t expect any good news out of the golf course even after it has finally been entirely paid off despite the best intentions of those making the decisions and the hard work of those gentlemen that manage and work at the course everyday.

Gary Shea, Brigantine, NJ

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