To the Editor from Gary Shea…
Last week, local newspaper owner Emmett Turner wrote a front-page article which all but proclaimed that the financial situation with the golf course is fine and there is nothing to worry about.
He pointed out increases in revenue from 2013 and the fact that local league members are very happy with the conditions of the golf course, all of which are true. The general manager, head professional and, in particular, the superintendent Mr. Dale, continue to do an outstanding job with what little they are given to work with.
But this is another example of the misinformation that has been generated by opponents of the long-term leasing of the golf course that includes sitting city council members and this time, the publisher of a local newspaper, someone we residents rely on to print the truth, and not the truth as he wants people to hear it.
Shame on Mr. Turner for using his position, his newspaper and the public trust to misinform the residents of Brigantine.
So what are the facts? They are simply this: According to the city’s numbers, as of July 15, golf course revenue is up to about $575,000 from $458,000 at the same time in 2013 – but one has to take into consideration that the golf course was literally unplayable through about mid-June of 2013 because of the damage caused by Sandy and the lingering effects of a colder than normal winter.
Brigantine Councilman Pullella Disputes Golf Course Story. WATCH VIDEO.
To get an accurate view of the situation, one must go back to 2012 prior to Sandy, where at the same time, golf course revenues were over $715,000 – a considerable difference from the current figure Mr. Turner is celebrating. Let’s also keep in mind that despite that number by mid-July, the golf course still showed an operating loss of over $40,000 (not counting the annual bond payments that had to be made going into 2013).
If Mr. Turner was truly sincere in reporting the facts, he would have taken the time to discuss the truly alarming trend that shows golf course revenues dropping from about $1.62 million in 2009 to $1.15 million by the end of 2012, nearly a half-million dollar difference in just a four-year period. According to Mr. Turner, “with the heavy play in August and the fall months of September and October still ahead, the financial future of the Links [is] sound.”
Again, let’s go back to 2012. The golf course generated $715,000 by July 15 and finished the year with $1.15 million, a $400,000 increase before Sandy hit in early November.
If you add that same $400,000 on top of the current $575,000 as of July 15 that total doesn’t even equal a million dollars, and it would take some very favorable weather in November and December to go over a million for 2014, yet this year’s revenue would still be around $100,000 less than 2012 –which was, again, a money-losing year.
I’m sorry, Mr. Turner, but that doesn’t quite fit anyone’s definition of a business that is ‘financially sound.’
Let us not also forget, and Mr. Dale would be the first one to tell you this, the golf course requires a million-dollar-plus investment to replace its old and outdated irrigation system, and the permanent water collection areas located both on Fairways and in the ‘rough’ areas still need be addressed and dealt with in order to make the golf course competitive within the overall market.
In addition, all of the contaminated soil that was dredged from the irrigation ditches surrounding areas of the golf course still has not been removed, another expensive endeavor. Who is going to pay for all this work?
I understand that local residents who use the golf course regularly, such as the men’s and women’s golf leagues, are concerned about the price they will have to pay to play golf at The Links if a new operator is brought in to run the course under a long-term lease. However, what they seem unwilling or unable to understand is that if the trend in the drop of yearly revenue generated by the golf course continues as it has since 2009, and nothing going on in the golf course business would suggest otherwise, sooner or later they are going to have pay more for golf simply to get the golf course to at least break even. That is true whether the remaining bond payments are made or not, which at this time are being subsidized by the taxpayers, most of whom do not play golf.
A process has started, an RFP has been released and several reputable golf operators have already responded. Let the process work itself out. To those who are opposed to the long-term lease, why don’t you just wait and see what the operators are offering, as you may be pleasantly surprised.
And shame on Mr. Turner for using his position, his newspaper and the public trust to misinform the residents of Brigantine.