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Golf committee refutes many town hall claims

By Morgan Pilz, Staff Writer

Board Liaison Frank Daly discusses the importance of informing the public about the country club project.

(April 25, 2019) Ocean Pines Golf Committee members were not thrilled with information shared about golf clubhouse operations during former board member Slobodan Trendic’s town hall meeting on Monday.

On Tuesday, committee members shared their frustrations about what they saw as inaccuracies being distributed to homeowners.

“All of this misinformation is getting out there and, after looking at numbers … it’s sad how these people are being led down this path,” committee member Olga Novy said.

There were complaints during the town hall about how much money was being put into the clubhouse, how the golf course only benefitted roughly 100 members who use it, and how the operation had failed to turn a profit in several years.

According to the golf committee, that information was misconstrued.

“What they’re not telling you is five or seven years ago, someone sprayed agent orange over the greens,” interim General Manager John Viola said. “It takes a long time to recover all that play, but people are coming back. The numbers are showing better, but nobody’s saying that.”

Weather has also been a factor.

“If we didn’t have the third-wettest fall on record, I really believe we would have broke even,” Viola said.

Committee members were also unhappy about reports of low golf membership.

“The other thing that is always put out there is, ‘They only have 100 members,’” Novy said. “Nothing was said about how 1,700 rounds were played by Ocean Pines residents last year. Nongolfers don’t understand – having a membership just means I’m prepaying my golf. Other people decide they’ll pay as they go, and they’re the ones who come time after time because they live here.”

The cost to residents is not that high, according to the committee, with fees of $12-15 a year to maintain the greens – and that is expected to drop to $10. Moreover, anyone who lives in Ocean Pines is allowed to use the facility.

“Everybody is a member,” Committee Member Anne Shockley said. “Really, everybody in Ocean Pines is a member of aquatics, a member of golf, whatever amenities we have.”

“It’s amazing how the golfers get vilified and they’re the ones who played it,” Viola said. “They don’t tie up the tee times. They don’t get a set guaranteed tee time.”

Some residents at the town hall wondered why the clubhouse could not just be renovated.

Committee liaison Frank Daly, a board member who was at the town hall, expressed his frustration regarding the lack of proper information, especially regarding the costs needed to repair and rebuild the clubhouse.

Daly even shared a story with the committee about the importance of maintenance.

“This has been painted as something for golf. In my mind, that is not true,” Daly said. “On our orientation tour [for new board members], I toured a building in Ocean City that belonged to a homeowner’s association. I had been told that it was valued at $34 million.

“When we went there, it was obvious the place had not been renovated for a number of years,” he continued. “The second-floor windows were leaking, which could cause eventual mold intrusion. The first-floor doors had deteriorated where they couldn’t be locked. The person responsible for that property had to make to make arrangements with the Ocean City police to come by every 15 minutes and check to make sure no one entered the property.”

The property he was describing was none other than the Ocean Pines Beach Club, which was recently renovated and will be ready for use during the summer season.

“All that stuff has been taken care of [now],” Daly said. “Using that as the template, you can go to the golf course clubhouse. [The] second floor is unusable, the first floor has mold, it has a leaky roof … it’s not about golf. It’s about the responsibility of the homeowner’s association to maintain its facilities in good working order.

“It is a building that we have, that we need to take care of,” he continued.

Costs are been considered and about $150,000 worth of equipment might be salvageable for the new building, according to Viola.

Finally, the committee spoke about the golf cart barn, which was listed as a separate expense from the country club.

“Out of an abundance of caution … we sent the request for design build, not only for the three low bidders, but to all other contractors,” Daly said. “In conjunction to that, the cart barn became a part of it because we thought we could reduce cost.”

Designs for the country club are tentative and still in the drawing process. Construction is expected to begin in September, with two months anticipated to receive the permits needed to begin.

A board press conference is likely to be scheduled sometime next week, with contractors and other experts available to answer questions from the public. The meeting is expected to occur in the Assateague Room at the Ocean Pines Community Center.