Letter to the editor. From GARY SHEA, Brigantine….
I can’t help but feel bad for the taxpayers of Brigantine after witnessing the discussions that have taken place concerning the future of the golf course over the last two city council meetings. As probably the only resident of Brigantine that owns a golf business that operates locally, regionally and nationally, it’s my humble opinion that neither the elected officials of Brigantine nor most, if not all of the residents have any idea of what it really requires to own and provide oversight of the golf course.
In addition, most if not all involved in the conversation don’t seem to understand the difference between city drainage and golf course drainage, the difference between a ‘playable’ golf course and a ‘competitive’ golf course within the market, the difference between a golf course management company and a golf course ownership group and the current state of the golf course business.
****** See Photos of Brigantine Golf Course Here ********
None of the residents who spoke seem to have any idea of how the RFP Process works, what the ‘Green Acres Act’ is all about, the fact that the area’s casinos are not willing partners in the promotion of golf to their guests for any of the area’s courses and the limited financial resources that the current management group has available to operate and promote the golf course.
However to me, the scariest assessment to Brigantine taxpayers should be the continued ‘wait and see’ recommendations that some of the residents and politicians seem to think will solve everything.
This is a certain path to financial doom. Optimistic expectations are not always a bad thing but in this instance, it is absolutely, positively the wrong course of action. These people are similar to residents of Brigantine who stayed on the island thinking that Sandy would never hit or the one member of history’s ‘Donner’ party who probably said, “Don’t worry folks … the snow will stop any day now!” I’m pretty sure they probably ate him first!
The fact of the matter is simply this: after 12 years of ownership by the city, the golf course is currently 2 million dollars in debt, has been losing revenue since 2008 and has been losing money the last two years… and that is NOT including the debt payments.
Given the current state of the golf course industry where since 2003, the number of active golfers continues to decrease and the number of golf course closings continue outpacing new course openings as it has been for the last 8 years and is expected be for at least another 10 years, quite simply, the golf course industry is not a business that Brigantine taxpayers should want to see their tax dollars invested in.
Residents of Brigantine should demand that the golf course be taken out of the hands of the politicians and put in the hands of a qualified, competent golf course ownership group. This group would be willing to make the investment in the golf course recommended by the current management company back in 2007, that will help make the golf course competitive within the area’s market and will attract golfers, tourists, future homeowners and investors to the city.
Gary Shea, 17 Marc Lane, Brigantine, NJ.