Ocean Pines Board Narrowly Moves To Change Golf Course Management

Ocean Pines Board Narrowly Moves To Change Golf Course Management
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BERLIN – Landscapes Unlimited, a Nevada-based golf course management company, has been selected to take over the course in Ocean Pines.

The Ocean Pines Association Board of Directors voted 4-3 in a closed meeting Feb. 20 to begin contract negotiations with Landscapes Unlimited.

“They gave a great presentation,” said Marty Clarke, vice president of the board. “How can we do much worse? The group we had hadn’t made budget since they got there.”

The decision to go with Landscapes Unlimited came after the board was shown proposals by three golf management companies earlier this month. The Nevada firm was chosen over Haley/Marshall, a local partnership, and Billy Casper Golf, the company currently managing the Ocean Pines course.

During the public presentations, Mark Mattingly, vice president of business development for Landscapes Unlimited, used the time to describe the company’s work history and stress the focus it would place on rebuilding membership at the Ocean Pines course. In recent years club memberships there have dropped to about 200.

Dave Stevens, president of the OPA Board, said the presentation convinced him to support the switch from Casper Golf to Landscapes Unlimited. Casper, he pointed out, spent the last four years trying to increase revenue through outside play rather than through memberships.

“The general direction they’re [Landscapes] taking is significantly different than that of Casper,” Stevens said. “I, at least, want to see what a company that’s focusing on increasing membership can do.”

During the company’s presentation, Mattingly pointed out that there were significantly more public than private courses in the immediate area. Although he didn’t suggest making the course entirely private, he said Landscapes Unlimited would focus on attracting members from the community’s more than 8,000 homes.

Clarke said he was impressed with the company’s presentation but was disappointed in how few community members came out to hear the three proposals. Fewer than 50 people were in attendance.

“I was dumbfounded,” Clarke said.

Stevens said that while feedback the board received from residents was primarily in support of Casper prior to the trio of golf presentations, afterward it was mixed.

Casper Golf was hired to manage the Ocean Pines golf course in 2010. Although it was hoped that hiring a management company would improve the course’s financial performance, the facility has continued to lose money.

Stevens said Casper Golf’s contract would expire April 30.