By Alan Prescott
May 4, 2022
For over a year now, I’ve been writing for the Fernandina Observer about the true superstars of golf, that is, NOT the tour players who flood their presence on national television. Certainly tour members can play. They spend hour after hour, day after day, week after week and more honing their skills, working out at a local gym and listening to sports psychologists. However, Touring Golf Professionals are definitely NOT true golf superstars.
In fact, Touring Golf Professionals live in a “bubble”. They present gameplay, NOT reality. The real golf superstars are those who develop and maintain golf courses, not the mega-millionaires who finance projects, even though it takes large sums of money to build and maintain golf courses.
Think about my journey. I spent decades in all facets of the golf industry learning my craft. Since each person’s journey in the golf industry begins with a different type of golf course experience, the golf industry itself is NOT for everyone. However, like Tour players, true golf superstars start with a goal and a plan, then they build their plan.
Who are the golf superstars? These are the people who do the actual work of building and maintaining your local course. This is where the meat of this article begins. My original intention was to help out at the Fernandina Beach Municipal Golf Course after my now deceased fiancée Nora read an article written by your current mayor which downplayed the importance of the FB Municipal Golf Course.
For more than a year, I have read and listened to your mayor and most of your commissioners. There are several things that have been accomplished that are positive. First, Mike Cooney was hired as the golf course manager. In turn, Mike hired Blaine Ellerby, who is certainly one of the best and most skilled golf course superintendents in the state of Florida, if not the entire country. Then, after multiple in-depth discussions, the salaries of the golf course maintenance staff were brought up to an acceptable level. This was followed by action. Mike and Blaine came up with a plan with an insufficient budget for the golf course and began to improve the golf course.
Let’s face it, Mike and Blaine have begun their journey to improve your golf course and undo over 25 years of neglect and underfunding of YOUR golf course. It’s the direct fault of YOUR Stewards, who assume they can underfund your course for over 25 years, and don’t know how to run a golf course efficiently and profitably, constantly waste money on add-ons like Top Tracer (the red herringbone of golf course ownership), hire a so-called “management company” (which underperforms and overcharges its services while doing little to improve your golf course), and then they blame everyone but themselves for the condition of your golf course. While I’m there, how come there are no washrooms in the Top Tracer building or catering services for guests?
In the latest issue (April 21, 2022) of L’Observateur, income for the month of March 2022 shows “a 61.8% increase” in contributions. Where could these increases go? Probably NOT back on the golf course. Maybe they’ll go and soak up some of the red ink of the marina operation. Want to charge higher rates for marina use? Please go for it, because people who park their expensive yachts can surely afford this price increase.
In closing, I have willingly spent my time and money trying to help improve YOUR golf course. You have a commissioner who supports the golf course but does not want to fund it properly. You have another commissioner who talks about a good game and wants to show off his skill in running a golf course, but, in reality, he doesn’t have a clue either. In my heart, what needs to be done, in order to make your golf course profitable, is to get the current commissioners to properly and immediately fund your golf course.
Early last year I offered a 9 hole Executive Par 3 golf course and outdoor golf school. This proposal went nowhere and landed on deaf ears. Now the Omni has a 10-hole executive golf course and putting facility, which will not only replace ocean erosion at this site, but will be an added attraction and source of additional revenue for the OMNI, and not for the town of Fernandina. Beach. This is a disgrace and another missed opportunity for the citizens of your city.
Today, after this discussion, I have a question for you. To the Commissioners, what voice do citizens need to speak for YOU to hear them?
By the way, there is one more point to discuss. The fees to play at FBMGC are the lowest on the island. The next competitive greens fee is $99.00 at Amelia River. The operators of this golf facility have invested millions over the years and the condition of this facility is pristine, but expensive. No matter how much talent you have in place at the City Golf Course, without proper funding you will prevent them from improving your golf course. Think about it. Most importantly, DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT TODAY!!!
As usual, my name is Alan Prescott. I am here for you, FBMGC golfers, to help you redevelop your golf course.
Thank you for your time and your patience.