By Josh Davis, Associate Editor
(Dec. 6, 2018) When it comes to golf operations, better communications are needed, members of the association golf advisory committee concluded last Tuesday. They also said the community should make up its mind as to which group is officially advising the Ocean Pines Board of Directors on golf considerations.
Currently, the board is hearing from the advisory committee, as well as the Ocean Pines Golf Member’s Council, Women’s Golf League, and Ocean Pines Men’s Golf Association.
Bob Long, immediate past president of the member’s council, said he was unable to attend the last two board meetings, but wanted to weigh in on some of the discussions. Current Member’s Council President Larry Perrone has been outspoken during those meetings and especially critical of Director Frank Daly, who is the board liaison to the golf committee.
Daly had mentioned briefly closing the course while renovations of the golf and country club took place, while Perrone said he and others were preparing a war chest so they could mount a legal challenge if the course were to be closed. Director Slobodan Trendic also outraged certain members of the golf community when he proposed outsourcing the course last month, but his motion did not receive a second.
“If adjustments to the … operations as a club would overall enhance the amenity, then we’d be willing to find a way to make these adjustments work,” Long said. “My concern, however, is the way the recent proposals have been presented.
“Rather than openly discuss these ideas with the golf member’s council and with the golf advisory committee – and with those who’s job it is to manage the course – these proposals have been presented like little bombs, thrown in the midst of things without the proper research and vetting that should take place,” he added.
Long said those making the proposals claim to have the best interest of the amenity at heart, “but the result of these bombs has been to waste the time of the entire board, and to decrease the value of the golf course amenity and the membership and the association as a whole.”
“Outsiders can only think poorly of our golf club and our community after learning about what has taken place,” he said. “If the interest is to improve the golf club, then start with those who have already given their time to understand its workings, and seek the opinions of the membership through the golf member’s council and through the golf advisory committee.”
Long said the golf course pro and superintendent should also be consulted, and that communication overall needs to get better.
Golf advisory committee member Frank Biancaniello argued the member’s council “cannot have quite the influence that they’d like to have.”
“You either have to get rid of the golf advisory committee or you have to get rid of the influence of the golf council,” he said. “You can’t have two heads telling the board and the general manager what to do.”
He compared the situation to recent reports in Virginia that a two-headed copperhead snake had been found.
“Each head wanted to go in different directions, and it didn’t work and it died,” Biancaniello said, adding that he supported advisory committee Chairman Larry Davies, but “it’s actually stupid [to have two separate groups]. I feel really strongly about this.”
Biancaniello went on to say the overall golf experience needed to be improved and the community needed to lure back “some of the people that are unhappy with their experience in the past.”
“I’m sorry about coming on so strong, but if we’re going to do things the way they were done in the past we’re totally wasting our time. We’re talking to a wall. That’s got to stop,” he said. “Everybody’s gotta roll up their sleeves and bust their butt a little more than we have been, and we need to think out of the box.”
Biancaniello suggested Daly was thinking outside of the box when he proposed temporarily closing the course.
Davies, the chairman since September, said the committee was “going in a different direction than it was in the past” and “we’re not going to quit” on working to improve golf operations.
Committee member Joseph Lynch said Ocean Pines General Manager John Bailey had recognized the committee “as the one source from him and to the board.”
“Larry Perrone has a right, as a resident, to go up and give public comments – as anybody in the community does,” he said. “As far as whose representing you, I think [Bailey] has already established that.”
According to Lynch, Bailey suggested inviting members of each of the three other groups to join the golf advisory committee.
“I guess they have to change the directive in order to do that … and I think they should do that,” Lynch said.
Davies agreed the member’s council “should not have any more say” than the advisory committee, but should still have a stake.
“They’ve been offered a seat,” he said. “They don’t have to officially do it. I’ve gone out of my way to communicate with … those guys over current issues, and I’ll continue to do that.
“I’d like to see a formal presentation that they have a seat at this table,” Davies continued. “They deserve it. They’re part of the community and they’re going to be part of changing [things].”
Daly said he was speaking as an individual director, but added, “I feel pretty confident that my colleagues feel exactly the same way.”
“The golf advisory committee is the committee that the board of directors relies on for its input on how to operate and manage the golf course and the course conditions,” he said.