Mar 152013
 

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The Daily Reflector

Rob Taylor/The Daily Reflector

Golfers take advantage of the unseasonably mild weather Friday afternoon on the putting green at Bradford Creek Golf Course in Greenville. (Rob Taylor/The Daily Reflector)

By Wesley Brown

Friday, March 15, 2013

An adviser to the Bradford Creek Public Golf Course expressed strong distaste this week for a strategic vision being sought for the city-owned club, calling the plan “pejorative” and saying it painted an illogical and incomplete picture of the facility.

Speaking before the Greenville Recreation and Parks Commission, Jim Decker, associate dean of East Carolina University’s Kinesiology Department and a 22-year resident of Greenville, picked apart a recent operational analysis completed on the course by Golf Convergence, a consulting firm based in Castle Rock, Colo.

Decker, one of nine members on the Bradford Creek Advisory Committee, questioned the 90-page report’s findings and conclusions, specifically a statement that the greatest return to the city would be to sell the course, estimated to have a value of $3.2 million.

“It’s a pejorative report,” Decker said. “The greatest return for the city’s police cruisers and fire trucks would be to sell them, but they provide a service to the community, as does Bradford Creek.”

Decker said he doubted the report’s suggestion that Greenville’s golf market is oversupplied, felt some of its statistics were “kind of skewed” and resented the way in which parts of the operational review were conducted.

The golfer’s major issue with the report, though, was that no where in it did it talk about how Bradford Creek fulfills the Greenville Recreation and Parks’ mission to advance activities that promote mental and physical health, serve as a deterrent to illegal or inappropriate behaviors and enhance the city’s quality of life.

Decker presented five economic impact studies to the commission, stating that in just five events last year more than $200,000 was spent in the city. None of the studies were used by Golf Convergence.

“Bradford Creek does things that other facilities do not do,” Decker said. “That’s just a fact and one that is not necessarily stated in this report.”

For example, Decker said that in the past decade 181 boys and girls have played on the Bradford Creek Junior Golf Team, which when factoring in repeat participants, equates to about 400 appearances.

“We nurture them. We look after them. We pay attention to them,” Decker said of the children enrolled in the program. “We do not shoo them away.”

Recreation and Parks Commissioner Terry Boardman was impressed by Decker’s points and strongly recommended that he present the same argument to the City Council during a planning workshop scheduled for March 25 or at its next scheduled meeting on April 8.

In January, the council agreed not to sell Bradford Creek, but had some difficulty approving a five-year plan for the course that included more than $1 million in city-sanctioned subsidies.

The board referred recommendations from Golf Convergence to staff to develop a long-term action plan that would ensure “long-term viability” of the public golf course.

Among the suggestions the staff plans to present to council in its upcoming workshop is staff realignment, an increase in green fees and a capital investment of $400,000 by the city to bring Bradford Creek on par with its finances and in line with industry standards.

“You should understand that we did not commission this report and were not recipient of this report and are out of the loop in making a decision on this report,” Boardman said to Decker.

“But you are the Recreation and Parks Commission, right?” Decker asked.

“Well, tell that to the City Council,” said Boardman, who has advocated for Bradford Creek regulars, which includes himself, to pay their “fair share.”

Decker said he did not understand why a community the size of Greenville could be struggling with a course like Bradford Creek.

In Moore County, which is half the size of Pitt, Decker said there are 44 public and private golf courses. Plus, records show on average 24,000 rounds of golf are played each year at Bradford Creek, more than any of the other three courses in the city.

“If the market is oversupplied, why would the course that has the most number of rounds played be the one to go?” Decker asked. “I don’t understand that logic.”

Gary Fenton, Greenville Recreation and Parks director, said Bradford Creek netted $18,000 last month and is on target to exceed its quarterly revenue goal by $15,000.

Last year, Bradford Creek brought in $859,830 in revenue, which is more than the median income reported among U.S. municipal courses to the National Golf Foundation ($825,300), but less than the figure recorded by Golf Convergence ($1.2 million).

“That is kind of skewed,” Decker said of Golf Convergence’s figure.

“If Recreation and Parks truly wants to makes Greenville a better place to live, I think Bradford Creek is one of the city’s jewels.”

 

 

Contact Wesley Brown at 252-329-9579 or wbrown@reflector.com. Follow him on Twitter @CityWatchdog.

via The Daily Reflector.

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