OCEAN PINES — The first phase of the greens replacement project at the Ocean Pines Golf Club will be completed within days and the affected holes ready for use before the Memorial Day Weekend deadline, according to General Manager Bob Thompson.
Thompson brought with him to the meeting a piece of wood as an example of the type of debris, which also included discarded drainage pipes, that had been found during the replacement project.
Thompson showed slides of the replacement project process culminating with photos of completed greens.
“Everything has worked out ahead of schedule,” Thompson said. “I think this is going to make a significant difference, as we expected.”
The project may have been finished even sooner, but the opportunity to add Hole #7 to the nine-hole project presented itself this week and the Board, via e-mail vote, agreed to approve the additional $32,500 to get it done. The estimated savings associated with including it, according to Thompson, was $50,000.
As part of the continued improvement of the Golf Course, Thompson also suggested the board vote to replace all of the tee markers.
The idea came when one of the tee markers rotted out of the ground and collapsed, requiring replacement. The plan called for it to be replaced with the kind of tee marker that appears on Holes 1-6. Upon investigation Thompson said he priced those types of markers at $2,900 apiece and felt the expense to continue replacing the markers at that price was untenable.
“These are beautiful markers,” Thompson said of the newer models on the front nine. But he added he couldn’t justify the cost to furnish the remaining 13 holes with them.
Instead he investigated an aluminum alternative, similar to those in place at GlenRiddle, and suggested that in stead of spending the $30,000 it would cost to bring them all into line, the Board approve a measure allowing $20,000 to be spent on 19 new ones.
The markers will still have trash receptacles and ball washers but be lower maintenance and have less upfront costs. The markers they currently have will be repurposed at the driving range as well as at “strategic locations” around the course.
With the money invested in the course, and the greens completed as promised, Thompson and the board will now return aggressively to selling the Lifetime Memberships designed to defray the cost of the work.
For between $12,500-$25,000 a limited number of golfers can join the Ocean Pines Golf Club for life as part of a plan to help fund the greens replacement.
Although golf membership costs have generally held the line over the past few years, age, the economy and the course condition has dwindled the memberships ranks. Moreover, Thompson was concerned that a significant annual membership increase might cost the Association even more members.
His solution was to propose offering lifetime memberships and using the revenue they generated to help fund the first and most necessary part of the golf course renovation — replacing the greens at the cost of about $900,000.
Initially the plan was to offer 40 memberships at $25,000 per and raising the entire amount from membership sales. Further research and Board of Directors input altered the plan and last month Thompson presented the new deal. In an effort to fund $595,000 of the $900,000 needed, the OPA would offer 33 memberships at a stair step, age-based rate.
The contracts outline the lifetime membership rights — participants packages include greens fees, cart rental, player improvement program, a locker, and are non-transferable — as well as a commitment that the money will be used to rebuild 18 greens. One of the provisions is that if a future board decides not to finish the plan, which is an always-looming possibility in the OPA, members can get their money back, less the number of years they’ve already participated.