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


Golf debate won’t go away in Ocean Pines

(April 2, 2015) The golf course again became a hot-button issue in Ocean Pines, as a brief update from General Manager Bob Thompson drew fire from several board members during Saturday’s public meeting.
According to the general manager’s report, “Golf finished the month of February $5,382 better than budget for the month. YTD we have realized a $138,579 improvement in golf over the same timeframe from our previous year. With the recent changes in golf, we should anticipate a decline in rounds and outside bookings for the spring season with anticipated recovery once the new management company is in place.”
Ocean Pines is in contract negotiations to replace current management company Billy Casper Golf with Landscapes Unlimited. The board voted 4-3 to select Landscapes in February.
Following the reading of the report, Vice President Marty Clarke asked Thompson why he believed the community should anticipate a drop in spring bookings.
“I’m basing it on the fact that we don’t have clarity of what the next three-to-four months from who is managing, what the bookings are going to be, and we don’t have anyone out there actively engaged until we have the new purveyors in,” Thompson said. “I would say it is impacting us. There was no negative in it – I said it would recover.”
Clarke countered that he had spoken with golf booking agents who painted a much more positive outlook.
“Contrary to what you’ve heard, the booking agents I’ve spoken to have said the other side of it,” Thompson said, declining to give specific names.
Board President Dave Stevens suggested Thompson had plenty of opportunities to give specific information prior to the open meeting.
“We don’t have to come to a meeting to find out,” he said. “If you talked to somebody specifically, share it with us. We’d like to know. We’d like to know exactly what’s being said, by whom, when, and what the circumstances around the comments were.”
“Do we believe what I put [in the report] is unreasonable?” Thompson asked.
“Yeah, I do,” Clarke said.
“I completely stand by it,” Thompson said. “I believe it’s accurate. I wouldn’t give it to you if I didn’t believe it to be so.”
Clarke again pressed for specifics.
“Mr. Clarke, I’m not going to debate my report. My report is based on the fact that there’s some uncertainty in the golf [course],” Thompson said. “There is uncertainty with Ocean Pines golf right now.”
“Who is uncertain about our golf?” Clarke asked.
“Do we have a contract now, Mr. Clarke?” Thompson asked. “I can’t debate with you on things that we see very differently. I don’t even want to debate.”
Clarke again pressed for specifics.
“You have stated that you anticipated our bookings to be off,” Clarke said. “And I’m asking you based on what? It’s a simple question.”
“And I’ve answered,” Thompson said.
“No, you didn’t,” Stevens said.
Director Bill Cordwell stepped in saying, as of the second week of February, April bookings were down 400 rounds over the previous year, and May bookings were short 200 rounds.
“Pam’s Golf, as of that time last year had us booked 342 rounds last year [in May],” Cordwell said. “This year [it’s] 142. That was right out of the computer at the golf course, and that was the figures I was going on before we voted.
“Between April and May, we were over 600 rounds down over last year where I fully expected us to be probably 20 percent up over last year,” Cordwell added.
Stevens reiterated his belief that the board, “have the right to know specifically the source of [Thompson’s] information.”
“You make these comments the way you feel about it, but it has no relevance to the board,” Stevens said.
Parliamentarian Tom Terry attempted to calm the situation, suggesting the argument was merely a “back and forth” between board members who voted on opposite sides of the decision of golf management.
“The reality is the event is obviously happening,” Terry said. “The only thing we can do about it is get the contract done.
“Everybody is doing everything they to get through this,” Terry said, adding Thompson’s projection of an anticipated decline in booking was “perfectly reasonable,” and that putting the general manager in the middle of the situation was “totally inappropriate.”
“As far as I’m concerned, we need to move on and get the contract done with the new guy,” Terry said. “I think we’re wasting time here.”
Stevens agreed to drop it.
Treasurer Jack Collins provided an update on the Landscapes contract following the meeting.
“I think they’re headed in the right direction,” he said, adding representatives from the company were due to meet over contract iterations with members of the golf committee, Thompson and legal counsel.
Collins said members of the board recently had an extended lunch with Landscapes President Tom Everett at the community yacht club.
“After the luncheon we toured him around Ocean Pines from all the way to the south down to the Point, all the way back to the north entry and on either side so that he could get an idea of all the various amenities that we have in Ocean Pines, together with the diversity of community as far as housing is concerned,” Collins said. “He was quite impressed. He’s beginning to understand now how we represent a community as a whole and the golf course is not just a golf course – it’s an amenity as well as a golf course that is open to the general public.
“They understand that we’re negotiating from the standpoint of Ocean Pines Association and the membership being the owners of the amenities,” Collins continued.
According to Collins, Landscapes’ first order of business is to increase membership within the community.
“That’s their drive,” he said. “They feel that three percent of the overall 8,400 lot owners being part of Ocean Pines golf course is way too low. They’re going to focus on bringing more and more people from the community onto the golf course, and I think they’ll be successful.”
Collins said he believed a contract would be completed by the end of April.
“I can’t put a hard date on it, but we’ve got to get it done in April,” he said.