Ocean Pines Golf Operations Discussed

Ocean Pines Golf Operations Discussed
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OCEAN PINES – Several community members spoke out in support of the Ocean Pines Golf Course following remarks made by a member of the Ocean Pines Association Board of Directors.

Golfers strongly advocated on behalf of the course at a meeting Saturday after they said board member Frank Daly had suggested closing the course temporarily in an effort to save money.

“I want to make clear that the golfing community is quite honestly tired of hearing the same old lines … that the golf course is here to benefit 50 people and that the community is carrying the load for 50 people,” said Larry Perrone, president of the golf members’ council.

During the public comment period of Saturday’s board meeting, Perrone said he’d been under the impression Daly was going to put forth a motion to close the course for the winter. He said the course had 160 members and records indicated that 1,800 households within Ocean Pines used the course. He said that golf memberships were at 94 percent of what was budgeted, as were racquet sports memberships, while aquatics memberships were at 83 percent of what was budgeted.

“All things being equal, why don’t we shut them all down?” he said.

Perrone disputed the numbers he said Daly had sent out to various people in spreadsheets regarding golf operations. He said that while Daly claimed the course lost money, it made a profit of $5,000 last year.

“For a community that is based on amenities, that recently Forbes Magazine named as the best place in Maryland to retire and was previously named one of the 25 best places in the country to retire, we find it offensive,” he said.

Longtime golf member Don McMullen talked about the various community efforts the golf course supported each year.

“Our golf community has raised tens of thousands of dollars for charities and thousands in revenue for our golf club and the yacht club,” he said.

As the public comment portion of Saturday’s meeting continued, Daly took the opportunity to address Perrone’s remarks. Typically, board members don’t respond to public comments.

“Let’s talk about some facts,” Daly said. “Not fantasies.”

Daly pointed out that financial statements were changed last year to remove the Tern Grille from golf operations.

“When you put the Tern Grille financial results into last year’s operating results, golf lost $31,225,” Daly said. “That’s from our audited financial statements. It is what it is, let’s not spin it any different.”

Daly called the notion that he would make a motion to close the course a total lie. He said he did mention closing the course while the second floor of the country club was renovated.

“Here is what exactly was said and the context of it,” Daly said. “November through March, the golf course brings in a revenue of $173,552. That is from audited financial statements. During that same time period, the expense is $292,464. It is a net loss of $118,912. My comment was, and this was it exactly, when you look at those numbers and you’re looking at shutting down the country club for a major renovation, and you look at expenses to keep it open during that time period, a better business decision would be to shut it down for that time period.”

Daly said General Manager John Bailey immediately advised him that would be a bad decision because of contractual obligations and ongoing maintenance. Daly told those in attendance Saturday he simply wanted to see the positive turnaround in golf that some of the community’s other amenities had experienced.

John Viola, chairman of the Ocean Pines Budget and Finance Advisory Committee, said he was a lifetime golf member and had been assured in purchasing it that the golf course would be maintained. He also pointed out that the association had a comptroller, general manager and chief financial officer to provide fiscal data.

“They present the financial statements for Ocean Pines,” he said. “If we’re going to start having the board send out emails with attachments with numbers from all over the place it’s not for me … Unfortunately, now I have to stand up and refute something a director’s saying. I didn’t want to do that.”

Viola said Tern Grille had hurt golf operations and that Daly’s numbers were skewed because they included depreciation, while the numbers he used for the yacht club didn’t include depreciation. He added that the golf course, which looked like “somebody sprayed agent orange on it” years ago, had improved dramatically.

“It’s turned around more than the yacht club and you’re refusing to listen to it,” Viola said.

Doug Parks, president of the board, used the public comment period to discourage “he said, she said” arguing. “I’d rather spend time and energy getting input from all involved on how best to position golf operations to minimize financial losses,” he said. “Closing the golf course at any point in time will not yield positive variances to the bottom line. It is not a viable option.”

Instead, he suggested focusing on business tactics in a professional manner.

“There’s a lot of ideas out there,” he said. “There’s a lot of intellectual capital out there in Ocean Pines. Let’s leverage it.”

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.