Golf Course update: Woes at the 1st & 9th greens; management rental fees waived

by beth on April 4, 2019

Post image for Golf Course update: Woes at the 1st & 9th greens; management rental fees waived

Above: This week, selectmen voted to waive the golf course license fee due to issues impacting management’s abilities to charge full fees and attract as many golfers this season. (image from club website)

These days, the Southborough Golf Club isn’t quite the 9 hole course management and players expected this spring. Apparently, placement of construction fencing from the abutting Public Safety Building construction have made the 1st and 9th greens too difficult for some players to deal with.

According to Town Administrator Mark Purple, the construction company won’t take down fencing unless their responsibility for landscaping and other finish work in the cordoned off area is relinquished.

With the course winnowed down to essentially 7 good holes, some groups have taken their balls and gone elsewhere. One example of greens fees lost this spring was the St. Mark’s School golf team. Meanwhile, the Town is still working towards putting needed work at the course out to bid – for the 4th time.

The management company isn’t blaming the Town. But it sounds like they may be losing interest in staying on board.

In voting on a requested management fee waiver, Board of Selectmen Chair Lisa Braccio reminded that losing golf at the property would mean taking on maintenance costs. Braccio and Purple kept an optimistic attitude that issues can be worked through in time for a better season next year.

Southborough Wicked Local covered the board’s discussion at this week’s meeting. So, I’ll let their article fill in more details:

Selectmen have agreed to waive the rental fee for the management company of the Southborough Golf Club for the season, given the condition of the course.

The monthly rent brings in $20,000 to $22,000 each year, according to Town Administrator Mark Purple.

The board voted 3-0 Tuesday night to grant the request from Westwood-based New England Golf Corp. to waive the fee because work was not finished on two of the holes. The board rejected three bids for work to reconstruct the first tee and ninth green because of costs. Bids came in between $150,000 and $170,000 over what Town Meeting had allocated, according to Purple.

“I think the management company hoped that when they opened up at the end of March, beginning of April (of) this year that things would look a lot different, and things would be in better shape,” Purple told selectmen.

With a two-year deal ending with options for two one-year extensions, company President William Harrison recommended the town solicit new bids for management of the course with changes in the bid specifications.

“He did not say they would not be interested in bidding. He did not say they would be,” Purple said.

The relocated clubhouse, new access road and parking lot are complete. Previous bids for the remaining work came in the range of $514,000 to $607,000, while the town only has $340,000 set aside in Community Preservation Act money, according to Purple.

“We reduced the fees last fall to accommodate the inconvenience of a temporary green on the ninth (hole) and a short first hole with a temporary tee. We made assurances to the membership, leagues and public golfers that the construction work would take place over the winter season and completed in the spring, ” Harrison wrote in a letter to selectmen.

The town is looking to work with a new golf architect, according to town officials.

You can read the rest here. One final note – if the next bid is more successful, Purple believes work on the 1st and 9th holes could begin in October, causing further disruptions to this season.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kelly Roney April 4, 2019 at 7:16 PM

Why is it CTA’s call where to put the fences? They gobbled up a HUGE amount of apparently irrelevant area in the golf course.

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2 beth April 4, 2019 at 7:47 PM

Based on what Mark Purple told the BOS this week, fencing includes around the septic area. The contractor is responsible for the landscaping, plantings, pavers, etc.

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3 arborist April 5, 2019 at 7:20 AM

If the golf course doesn’t pan out the town still owns it, one way to avoid any maintenance costs is to let it go back to nature, in other words revert to back to forest land.

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4 JMO April 8, 2019 at 10:21 AM

Totally agree! This should have been the solution, not this golf course folly. Let’s go Green and get rid of the golf course.

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5 Townie April 5, 2019 at 8:18 AM

With the budget woes the theme this year at TM, this town really needs to take a good long look at the future of the golf course. Bidding out work for a 4th time because bids came in almost doubled what the budget is, membership slipping, the management company getting a pass on rental fees. All this happening within the first year of taking ownership. We have other projects in town being slashed because of funds, but we continue to dump money into a business that history showed was failing. Time to cut our losses and reallocate the funds to more useful areas in town that will benefit everyone.

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6 beth April 5, 2019 at 8:53 AM

It is worth noting that in working with the Golf Course management company, the Town believes that the reason behind bids that was “defective” work by the architect on the details included in the RFP. They still believe the money that was approved at a prior Town Meeting is enough to fund the work that is needed to put the golf course back on track. So, don’t expect them to throw in the towel yet.

If the 4th bid, under work by an architect the course management apparently has faith in, comes back way too high again – then the Town will have to figure out about whether increasing financial resources for it makes sense or not.

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7 Disc Golfer April 5, 2019 at 10:13 AM

Make it a public disc golf course. Look at Amesbury, Burlington or Pelham as examples. Beautiful public space for community to enjoy without the high maintenance and cost.

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8 Lisa Spellman April 5, 2019 at 11:12 AM

It seems to me that we need to think a little outside the box to solve these problems so that they do not cost the town quite as much money.
Why not use one of the local college programs which does golf course design and management to plan and work on executing the renovation of the two holes? There have got to be more creative ways of dealing with the expenses of rebuilding these holes and running the course than what has been discussed… There are some local courses that have older golfers/retirees who staff and run the courses in exchange for free golfing privileges. I fail to see the need for high end professional management companies to do all of this work…

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9 JMO April 8, 2019 at 10:23 AM

I fail to see a need for the golf course at all.

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10 John Kendall April 8, 2019 at 3:58 PM

I’m with you on this. I wanted the town to get the property, not the course. If it was a money maker, do you really think St. Mark’s would have let it go that fast?

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11 Concerned Voter April 9, 2019 at 10:58 AM

I agree somewhat with Lisa Spellman’s opinion. Since the Town got us into this mess via apparently poor planning and poor management, new and creative ideas could be necessary at this point, although all good faith efforts to restore trust with the current management company should be made. What needs to happen to make it all work and right?

The entire project from the beginning appears to be a testament to the motto: Failure to plan is planning to fail. A seven hole golf course. . . Another great outcome via our deal geniuses. Look at the math: by doing nothing the Town was getting a payment of $35,000 from St. Marks? And now this parcel, once the diamond of the town, could be ruined or go to pot? Where is the accountability?

These individuals do not belong handling projects like this and mismanaging town money in this voter’s humble opinion.

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12 southsider April 8, 2019 at 6:16 PM

TM agreed to this purchase and land swap with the understanding that the golf course would remain.
Too soon to turn our back on that vote, imho.

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13 n April 9, 2019 at 11:32 AM

many of us voted in support of the purchase despite the golf course give away.

best way to get out of a hole is to take the shovel away and stop digging, or something like that.

not that I think leadership will step up and put an end to it until we are into it for a couple more million and have to hear about how we have spent so much and it would be such a waste to throw in the towel and give up now. and we are so close to making it work..

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