Close Menu
Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Casper Golf hopes to continue managing course

(Dec. 11, 2014) Two months after the Ocean Pines Association sent requests for proposals to manage or lease the community golf course, current management company Billy Casper Golf is speaking out in defense of its four-year tenure.
Casper is one of four companies that submitted formal bids to manage the course. A fifth company submitted a proposal to lease the course, according to several members of the OPA board.
Joel Gohlmann, who oversees Mid-Atlantic and Northeast operations for Casper, said he visits Ocean Pines at least once a month and has regular discussions with community leadership.
“We have a very close partnership and relationship with the OPA there and [general manager] Bob Thompson,” he said.
Gohlmann said he is happy with the progress Casper has made this year.
“Overall, even in the golf industry and the golf market this year with the weather and the way the spring started, our revenues are significantly up over the prior year, most of that being driven by round increase,” he said. “Right now our rounds are up [more than] 4,000 over the prior year.”
Residents of Ocean Pines repeatedly praised the condition of the golf course during public meetings this year, including during Thompson’s town hall last month.
“I think from a product point standpoint it’s mostly been about consistencies, from an agronomic standpoint, that we approach things,” Gohlmann said. “We’ve been involved with the property for four seasons now, leading into five hopefully.
“We’ve had construction going on. We’ve had a number of capital projects going on. This is probably the first full growing season that we’ve been allowed to have all of our processes in place consistently, and we’ve just been able to manage the golf course versus managing everything else that comes with capital projects and things like that.”
That situation has led to higher ratings on websites including Golf Advisor and TripAdvisor, according to Gohlmann.
“Our star ratings have been well up over prior years,” he said. “It’s not just the local people, but the people that travel in couldn’t be happier with the way Ocean Pines is back on the map.”
Regular construction on and around the course has been a consistent thorn in Casper’s side and Gohlmann speculated that any company coming in should expect a few growing pains.
“With our partnership with Ocean Pines, we’ve kind of knocked off different projects each year,” he said. “When we got there in year one, we saw a quick increase in revenues and rounds, and then, with the weather kind of forcing our hand and some of the projects that went on, whether it was fairway renovations or green renovations on the back nine, it’s just always disruptive to the perception in the public.
“This is the first year that we could honestly say all those projects are tidied up, everything’s ready to go and we did our best to invite everybody back that’s been there over the last few years when sometimes we only had nine holes open and sometimes we only had 13 holes open,” Gohlmann continued. “That consistency for one full season has really started to show in the turnaround for the market in Ocean Pines.”
Despite Casper having to sing for its supper, so to speak, Gohlmann said competing with other companies for the course management job has not damaged Casper’s working relationship with Ocean Pines.
“We couldn’t be happier with the relationship we have with Ocean Pines, with the OPA and working with them over the last few years,” he said.
Casper submitted a renewal proposal last year to continue management. Gohlmann said the company’s latest proposal is virtually unchanged.
“We’re in the middle of delivering the financial results that were expected and I think we’re right on track to be able to do that as long as the winter and the spring materialize as normal,” he said. “We’re putting our best foot forward to continue with the project.
“I think we’ve developed the right process,” Gohlmann continued. “I think we’re on the right track. Our goal would be, probably for the first time in a long, long time, in fiscal year 2016 to maybe have the facility back to overall breaking even. It’s been a very, very long time since we’ve seen that. We like the trend it’s on [and] we wouldn’t want to put too many bumps in the road to break up that consistency and the working relationship that we’ve come to over the last few years.”
The OPA Board of Directors does not have a meeting scheduled in December. Talks on the golf course should resume next month, and board members hinted that meetings with prospective management and leasing companies are in the works.