OCEAN PINES — Some of the golfers at the Ocean Pines Golf Club this week believe that the course’s current conditions are the result of less than stellar management decisions. Others lay the blame firmly on Mother Nature, which has been unkind at best to all the area courses, including Ocean Pines.
Although both the causes and solution are debatable — and there’s plenty of fodder for both sides — two issues are beyond debate: the course is in sketchy condition at best and bad publicity isn’t helping.
Members, none of whom would speak on the record, generally are concerned that the bad publicity attached to the course’s condition will exacerbate the problem.
The condition of the course and the challenges it presents are not lost on OPA general manager Bob Thompson. Thompson was slated to meet with representatives of Billy Casper Golf this week to being working on a solution to both the problem of the course’s condition and the public relations difficulties that came with it.
One of the particularly thorny subjects is the golf drainage program, which has been going on for several years but was suspended this year pending further investigation.
The golf course drainage project, the cost of which has been estimated at nearly $2.5 million, was suspended this year, according to Thompson, because Billy Casper Golf is undertaking a more extensive review of the course and its findings could affect how the drainage plan is handled.
Because the area is low-lying, significant or consistent rain tends to flood either parts of the course or parts of the homes that abut the course. The golf drainage plan was conceived to alleviate that problem but Thompson said he worried that continuing the project, given the other needs for improvement, might end up being counter-productive.
Thompson said Billy Casper Golf is conducting soil tests and taking other measurements that will give it a better handle what it needs to do to solve all the course’s woes. Given that they intend to take a comprehensive approach to the problem, it is likely that solving the drainage issues can be combined with other turf-improving tactics to soften the potential cost of the project.
“We know we have issues at the golf course,” Thompson said. “We’re being more aggressive in dealing with it.”
Although there is a chance that some of the drainage work done will turn out to have been less efficient when compared to the new strategy, Thompson said it wasn’t wasteful so much as it was done in a way that didn’t account for other factors.
Since coming on board at the beginning of the golf season, but after the bulk of the golf package booking season, Billy Casper Golf has run the course. Not everyone agrees with how that has worked so far.
Tim Halligan, former chair of the now-defunct golf advisory committee, said he believes the company is running the course to the best of its ability but that it has not sought any input from his committee.
When Casper Golf came on board, Halligan said, he approached the management to introduce himself and said he and his committee were available resources. Halligan was thanked, he said, but told it would be unlikely the golf advisory committee would be called upon by the new management.