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Golf committee wants to involve larger community

By Greg Ellison

New clubhouse could be attractive to non-golfers

(Nov. 19, 2020) Following prolonged inaction because of covid-19 restrictions and  with several resignations, a slightly reconstituted Ocean Pines Golf Committee reconvened last month with hopes to market the course to a larger audience.

Golf Committee Chairman Fritz Lahner said the group met on Oct. 27 to develop suggestions for next year to accompany its annual report for the OPA Executive Council.

“Basically, due to covid, the committee’s been dormant for about a year [and] we had some changes in members,” he said.

The OPA Board approved Lahner, who was already a member of the Ocean Pines Men’s Golf Association, to join the Golf Committee during its meeting on Oct. 17.

Lahner said the advisory committee report from its October meeting was forwarded to Board liaison Frank Daly.

“What we looked at is how can we get more Ocean Pines residents involved in golf,” he said. “We’re just trying to put ideas out there.”

Lahner said the committee plans to explore a number of possibilities, but is waiting to hear from the OPA Board of Directors, which meets again this Wednesday.

“We’ve got to see where they’re going before we take our next step,” he said.

Where the area stands with regard to the spread of covid-19 is also a consideration.

“We made a lot of recommendations on how to get more participation, especially with … residents,” he said. “A lot of our suggestions are dependent on what’s going to happen with covid.”

While still uncertain of when proposals could be executed, the committee developed some new concepts to explore.

“One of the ideas … was an appreciation day for Ocean Pines residents,” he said.

The event would ideally take place in early spring and help expose a larger percentage of the community to the amenity and potentially increase participation.

“Have a day to bring them to it and see the amenity and the new clubhouse,” he said. “It’s not a golf clubhouse, it’s a community clubhouse.”

The intent is to accommodate various community demographics, including fulltime residents, along with part-time or seasonal residents.

“Make them feel welcome and let them know what goes on at the course,” he said. “See what’s there and what services are available.”

Potential resident discounts are also under consideration but would require board approval.

“We proposed a couple different packages rather than just the full member or non-member,” he said. “We want to keep Ocean Pines residents playing in Ocean Pines.”

Among the committee’s objective is establishing revived membership marketing, which would also target outside players, and include varying rates for lower play times.

“One of the suggestions was a 10-coupon book with an expiration date and a reduced rate for Ocean Pines residents,” he said.

Among the larger pool of play package recommendations were a ladies weekday nine-hole early special rate and a nine-hole twilight rate for residents.

Lahner said the proposed “appreciation day” in the spring would likely incorporate a buffet or luncheon to highlight the improved food offerings at the new Clubhouse Bar and Grille.

“The breakfast is great [and] a lot of the residents go up there,” he said.

Lahner said those yet to visit the latest Pines food operation managed by the Matt Ortt Companies would likely find improved cuisine and ambiance versus the previous Terns Grille incarnation.

“It’s not run by the golf course, it’s run by professional people so the food is much better,” he said.

Lahner said the Clubhouse Bar and Grille has become a popular destination for dining and Sunday football.

“It’s the go to place on Sunday,” he said. “We go with our neighbors every week and some of them don’t golf.”

Lahner said the advisory committee is not intending to handle management of the course, but hopes to improve the golf experience for all players, with priority for the concerns of residents.

“Let’s take the biggest amenity in Ocean Pines and get the most people to use it,” he said. “How can we do that? That’s really what our goal is.”