A year ago today, I completely walked away as I pulled a control+ALT+delete with my long time profession. And while we continuously search for something greater- I will do my best to remain humble and hopefully one day I will even figure it out.
But before I begin this week's opinion, I need to stress that I have nothing but love and respect for my old coworkers and friends. It was my decision to leave White Deer Golf Course last spring. I have neither any sour grapes, nor an axe to grind either. I prefer a smooth lager and cut with a 4 1/2 inch blade. The problem lies with the system and how it all went down. Perhaps it is the time to set the record straight.
So my employer for 14 great seasons, the Lycoming County Recreation Authority, completely folded last March as the County assumed total control over the entire golf course. Yes. I had an opportunity to stay but I respectfully said no way. I didn't agree with the politics and never understood why ARE Commissioners would even HIRE a professional golf management company in the first place. The scenario certainly didn't call for one and the lengthy selection process was an absolute train wreck from day one.
Okay. This might be a lengthy read but it's important to take a look back. A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away — White Deer desperately needed to expand. But to qualify for various funding, Lycoming County had to incorporate other types of recreation to go along with the additional 18 holes. Several feasibility studies were conducted and ultimately ARE brilliant minds decided on a rather lame waterslide. Their ice-skating ponds and cross-country ski trails looked good on paper, but they didn't pan out either. Millions of dollars were wasted and #commonsense wasn't a trend in 1988. Ouch.
The industry was definitely booming by the turn of the century as Tiger Woods helped introduce thousands of new golfers to our wonderful game. Golf courses were thriving all across the country and over 82,000 rounds were played at White Deer Golf Course by 2006. Yes. Life was good. But at the end of that season- we had to pay the bank $350k for someone's frozen pipe dream. Tough to stay ahead boys and girls. Especially if those bond payments stretch out to 2027.
Participation drastically declined and WDGC only tallied 59,000 rounds by the end of 2014. The Lycoming County Recreation Authority was in a pickle and decided to revamp the management structure. They made some bogus changes, raised the rates and even repositioned the restaurant. All of the LCRA's "home run" ideas quickly turned into major swings and misses. It was a hot mess kids. How about a mulligan?
Meanwhile- ARE County Commissioners were definitely up to something as they "retained Billy Casper Golf to conduct an outside independent assessment on all of the operational aspects of White Deer Golf Course." #10/14presser. But why Billy? No RFP? Is this legal? Wait. It gets better. So the 386 page "sales pitch" eventually cost us taxpayers $18,000. True story. I saved the receipt.
The report revealed administrative dysfunction, inefficient marketing strategies, outdated equipment, poor course conditions and declining rounds and revenues. Wow. Brilliant. Thanks Mr. Casper. But I would have told you ALL of these things for $50 bucks.
Originally Billy was "hired" too help the LCRA best determine how to use the "mystery million." You know the huge savings that was realized in 2012 by refinancing the 2006 bonds but never brought to anyone's attention until the spring of 2015. Confused? I was too. Here's more.
"None of the corrective capital improvements recommendations suggested by BGC will be funded by last year's county tax increase... An outside golf management firm will be utilized to bring White Deer Golf Course in line operationally, both in near and far term, in order to meet it's financial responsibilities." #10/14.
Dude. Say what? A Management Company? I really don't think that it is your call. THERE ARE REASONS fore AUTHORITIES. Is this legal? Just to compare. Imagine if the County marched down to IPT and replaced AMERICAN AIRLINES with ALASKAN AIR. You simply can't do that.
Oh it gets better. I should write a book. Wait until you hear about the County's "decision" and how the Casper contract effects you and me. I might even throw in some quotes. You won't believe what ARE elected politicians said. You can't make it up sports fans. Just setting the record str8. To be continued. Until next week. Cheers.