Volunteers needed to keep golf course running

Above: Maintaining the golf course landscape may depend on keeping the golf club open when the Town takes it over. But, so far, there aren’t enough volunteers to form the committee needed to plan for that. (top photo by Katie Ferguson [with permission], bottom image from club website)

Last month, I posted updates on the Town’s steps to preserve the St. Mark’s golf course. That included seeking volunteers for a committee. I learned this week that those volunteers are still needed.

Selectmen had hoped to appoint members to the Golf Course Committee at their meeting this week. Last week, the Town issued a public notice asking for volunteers. Town Administrator Mark Purple confirmed that interviews and appointments aren’t on the agenda for Wednesday night because there aren’t enough volunteers yet.

In past Board of Selectmen meetings, advocates for preserving the land and selectmen agreed that keeping the course running was vital. They worried that a temporary closing could mean permanently losing some customers (especially groups like school teams).

Town Meeting voters didn’t assign any money to maintain grounds, with the understanding that playing fees would cover the cost.* That means even those who care only about the vista, not the sport, should be interested in keeping the greens open for play. 

Of course, the Town is hoping that residents who step up to join the committee include ones with knowledge of the sport and what it takes to run a golf course. They are still seeking:

up to 7 members, consisting of at-large representatives of the community, with professional backgrounds and qualifications consistent with those needed for design, maintenance and operation of a municipal golf course facility in Massachusetts

Below are the duties from the official charge for the Golf Course Committee: 

  • The Committee shall develop a plan which makes it feasible to maintain a functioning golf course now and into the future and to take the necessary steps to achieve this purpose;
  • The Committee shall engage with the current management company for the St. Mark’s Golf Course, to better understand the maintenance and operation aspects of the golf course, as well as opportunities to continue the relationship;
  • The Committee shall work collaboratively with the Public Safety Building Committee to explore economies of scale with regards to access, parking, location of clubhouse and amenities, utilities, and course modifications;
  • The Committee shall work with the Community Preservation Committee (CPC) to explore opportunities to make application to CPC for administrative, consultant, study and/or design funding for the golf course;
  • The Committee shall prepare draft budgets for operations and capital improvements to be considered by the Board of Selectmen for future Town Meetings;
  • The Committee shall communicate with town departments, officials, and other resources as needed [i.e. Inspectional Departments, Town Administrator, permitting boards, etc.].

To view the full charge, click here.

To apply to join the committee, click here for the application form. The completed form and an attached resume should either be submitted to the Selectman’s office (at Southborough Town House, 17 Common Street), or emailed to selectmensoffice@southboroughma.com.

*Advocates for preserving the course had claimed that the fees collected are enough to maintain the course. They did plan to eventually return to voters for help renovating the course to accommodate the public safety building. But even that was pitched as something that would be repaid by the playing fees. 

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6 years ago

Perhaps this is evidence that the town should not be in the business of running a golf course? Everybody wanted the course, but now nobody wants to do the work…

6 years ago
Reply to  em

It sounded like a good idea at the time, but I highly doubt this will follow through with voters. There has already been much talk about the safety complex costing so much money, now voters are going to be asked to fork over more money for a golf course that we still don’t know will be self sufficient. The best option is to let mother nature take back the remaining land and become habitats for animals, walking trails for residence.

Matthew Brownell
6 years ago
Reply to  em

Yes, em . . .

Which raises questions about government overreach at all levels, and the corrupt, rotted underpinnings of a disease in America known as Progressive Socialism.

“Town Volunteers” needed to maintain the St. Mark’s golf course ??? BA-HAHH-HA-HAHhh-HAHhh-HAHhhhhh (gasp), Ha-HA-HA-HAHHHHH (chortle), HA-Ha-HEE- -Hee-HEE-HEee (snort) πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜πŸ˜πŸ˜πŸ˜πŸ˜πŸ˜. OMG!!!! (???)

Good Grief . . . It simply does not come any funnier than the globalist arrogance of the “I’d-Like-to-Teach-the-World-to-Sing-in-Perfect-Harmony” / government-by-centralized- bureaucracy crowd.

Here’s a suggestion for Southborough residents who ascribe to the above, and who may be waiting at Town Hall to observe the mile-long Conga line of golf-course maintenance “volunteers”. Go to our library, and see if you can find a copy of the 1950’s children’s fable “Little Red Hen”. I think it will take all of 45-seconds to read , and illustrate everything one needs to know about those who push the cart, and those who make a lifelong pursuit of riding it.

Andre Fortin
6 years ago

“…..Which raises questions about government overreach at all levels, and the corrupt, rotted underpinnings of a disease in America known as Progressive Socialism.

β€œTown Volunteers” needed to maintain the St. Mark’s golf course ??? BA-HAHH-HA-HAHhh-HAHhh-HAHhhhhh (gasp), Ha-HA-HA-HAHHHHH (chortle), HA-Ha-HEE- -Hee-HEE-HEee (snort) πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜πŸ˜πŸ˜πŸ˜πŸ˜πŸ˜. OMG!!!! (???)

Good Grief . . . It simply does not come any funnier than the globalist arrogance of the β€œI’d-Like-to-Teach-the-World-to-Sing-in-Perfect-Harmony” / government-by-centralized- bureaucracy crowd……”

You must be a real hoot at parties…….
No need to hurl insults and broadsides at Town residents behind a keyboard, with your finger firmly planted on the emoji key.
Seriously, by my own count we now have at least 5 able ,willing, and qualified members to responsibly undertake the charge outlined by the Selectmen for the new Golf Course Committee. Hopefully we will soon be able to meet the Selectmen’s minimum needs for Committee participation.
It’s not complicated. The golf course is already there, and has been since the late 19th century. An historical landmark for the Town. We just need to make room for the new facility by modifying two of the nine holes and making the course whole again. We understand the task ahead. We just need to all work together to make sure it happens in the most efficient manner so as not to waste precious time and town resources. Let’s not forget that, if it hadn’t been for the Open Land and “Unofficial” Golf Course committee members, coming together last winter and spring as volunteers to “push the cart” over the finish line, this new facility would have never seen the light of day. Our first responders would still be looking for a new home, and a builder would be drawing up plans for condos up and down Latisquama after buying the land from St-Mark’s.
If I’m fortunate enough to be selected on the Golf Course committee, I’ll do my best to work with all committee members and parties in a productive, constructive and conscientious manner to tackle these responsibilities and get the job done. I’ll even offer Matthew B. a smile and a handshake in the spirit of unity and co-operation moving forward! ;-)

Matthew Brownell
6 years ago
Reply to  Andre Fortin


Good Grief.

God Bless, and by all means – have at it.

But this writer worked for 3 seasons (many, many, many moons ago – in his teenage years) on a golf-course maintenance crew. I remember there were about 12 or so full-time laborers, and perhaps 10 more part-timers at peak season.

Granted, it was an 18 hole course . . . not 9 like St. Marks.

Humor and sarcasm aside, maintaining a golf course is tough, consistently demanding, physically exhausting, and costly in materials, machines, labor, and machine maintenance.

Constant cutting of fairways. Daily cutting of greens. Raking sand traps. Re-locating pin placements. Aeration. Liming. De-thatching. Fertilizing. Herbicides and broadleaf applications. Irrigation and irrigation repair. Slice-seeding/ overseeding, new turf establishment, and sod-cutting. Daily adjustment of tee marker setbacks. Emptying trash receptacles. Replacement of ball washer fluids. Greens rolling. Replenishment of water/ hydration stations. Pickup of litter. Daily maintenance and clean-up of golf carts. And btw, who is manning the pro shop, collecting $$$ for greens fees, corralling the golf carts & hand carts, or blowing the air horn warning with an impending storm? What about liability insurance.. . . since, of course, no one ever slices a golf ball into oncoming Rt. 85 traffic, or hooks into the golf party in the adjacent fairway?

So, Andre – I do not mean to pee on your parade. And I greatly appreciate and believe in volunteerism. But when you speak of “getting the job done” respective to “maintaining” a golf course, I’m thinking there’s a pretty wide chasm here in how your initial volunteers perceive it . . . and the very naked reality and daily grind of the actual job punch-list.

It is not planting a half-barell of mums outside the doors of the pro-shop. Or setting a semi-circle of petunias and marigolds around a ball washer. Candidly, I’m betting more than 2 nickels that once “volunteers” are about 45 minutes into this Breathe-The-Great-Outdoors” vignette, we will see them at the 60-minute mark, contemplating an iced coffee and Reuben at Mauro’s

Matthew Brownell
6 years ago
Reply to  Beth Melo

Thanks for clarifying, Beth-

When I read that Town Meeting voters hadn’t set aside $$$ for the golf course maintenance, I assumed that the BOS was looking for volunteers to do the actual maintenance, and offset the high labor and materials costs of running the golf course (LOL). So, I stand corrected, and I appreciate the roadside sobriety check-point. ;-)

Still, I don’t think that existing St. Mark’s greens fees will come anywhere close to covering the operational costs of maintaining the course. . . which is probably why so many 9-hole courses have shut down.

Andre Fortin
6 years ago

Hi Matthew,

Thanks for your reply, and yes, if I were volunteering for all those duties you outlined, I would at least be looking for a little compensation…:-).
But as Beth inferred, our goal with this committee is simply to insure that we make the golf course whole and profitable again after we go through the necessary modifications to accommodate the new public facility. There will be a crucial transition phase as the construction work begins, and our aim is to keep the course open for play throughout this time. That’s why working together, i.e. all committees and the Town, will be crucial going forward. We can minimize overall costs by making sure we’re all on the same page and coordinating activities.
But I’m glad you spelled out in great detail all the tasks involved in managing a golf course successfully. And you’re absolutely right. About 10 years ago, the golf course was under terrible management, and we experienced first hand what can happen when all those tasks you mentioned are neglected. Members leave, the public stays away, and the whole place goes into disarray. And the opposite happens, as we also know full well, when the right people take charge, which is what we have been happily living with ever since that low point. Currently, the golf course has never been in better shape, nor in better hands. The last piece of the puzzle came into place when the Town snatched it away from those who were planning to gladly let it go, without any remorse, to deeper pocketed bidders. Thank you Board of Selectmen and Town voters!
So, we know it can be done, i.e. getting the golf course whole again, and managed smartly, so that it can pay for itself and may even turn out to be a steady income stream for the Town.
Not to mention that we solved the need for the new Public Facility.
But the job at hand isn’t done yet. We have a lot to do. That said, it’s been uplifting to see how Town management and many, if not most, residents are coming together on the common goal. I’m optimistic that this trend will continue. This is a great Town to live in! πŸ‘
Thanks again for your reply Matthew!
Note to Mr. Fallon and Lynne:
Many thanks for your support. It’s much appreciated.

Mark Fallon
6 years ago

Mr. Fortin – thank you for volunteering. Our town is better because of people like you willing to give of their time and experience.

6 years ago

I also that Mr. Fortin for volunteering. I think there are many people who would have been happy to step forward to volunteer for the Golf Course committee but did not think they met the qualifications that were listed. With so many 9 hole golf courses disappearing, I think it is wonderful that we will still have St. Mark’s. There are certainly some local communities that the committee can talk to about how they are successfully running their golf courses. Westborough Country Club and Pinecrest in Holliston are two great examples of town owned golf courses.

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