Newsletter – April 2024

Fellow members, prospective members and other interested parties:

This is the first of what we hope will be a regular feature.  We are working hard to make our golf courses the best they can be and newsletters like this will keep you informed of our activity and our progress.  First, a history lesson.  Since those currently in charge are different from those who were in charge in the past, this information is partly from an “outsider’s” perspective but I believe it to be accurate in in all major respects.

For several years, conditions on the golf courses were deteriorating.  This became part of a downward spiral very difficult to escape.  Poor conditions mean less play.  In attempts to increase play, rates decline.  Both of these lead to decreased revenue.  This, in turn, means less money available to improve course conditions.  It reached a point where the former owners, the Plantation Residents Golf Club, and their contracted operating and maintenance company Down To Earth could not sustain the operation.  Plantation management felt it would be in the best interest of the community to purchase the golf course.  The issue was brought to a community vote and the measure received overwhelming support.  This resulted in the special assessment which began in September of 2021.  A golf management company called Exude was hired to run the golf course and restaurant.  Exude, in turn, hired a company called Superior to maintain the golf courses.  Other options were available but Exude/Superior was the least expensive option and they presented very promising projections for a quick turnaround of results requiring very manageable outlays of capital.  Less than a year into this scenario, it started to become clear that these projections had been unrealistic and that requests for capital expenditures were becoming out of control and beyond the parameters built into the special assessment.  To assure future debt obligations were met, cash infusions into the golf course and restaurant from the special assessment had to be severely restricted.  Private funding necessary to maintain the operation was obtained from a PLGC board member.  In September of 2022, after a year under the initial management structure, the services of Exude were terminated.  Attempts to salvage the relationship with Superior failed and their contract was terminated later in the same year.  

In December 2022 a new maintenance contract was signed with BrightView Golf.  This 5 year contract called for reduced payments in the first 2 years of the contract with offsetting larger payments due in the later years.  BrightView was also separately contracted to complete the work on Otter Creek necessary to reopen the back nine holes of that course.  Delays in the process, both before and after the switch to BrightView, contributed to additional cash needs that, despite every effort to avoid it, resulted in a second assessment in September of 2023. There has been considerable debate over whether BrightView has entirely met their obligations during the first year of that contract.  That debate aside, there is no question that their efforts along with the efforts of many, many volunteers have greatly improved conditions on both courses.  While there is still considerable room for improvement, both courses are very playable and many golfers who went elsewhere when the courses were at their worst have returned.  We believe this is the beginning of an upward spiral where improved conditions lead to increased play at increased rates – providing more revenue for improving conditions.

Everyone knows we are not there yet.  Funds are very tight and uncontrollables like weather, for example, will need to be favorable for our operation to have a chance at being self-sustaining.  Measures have been taken to modernize our marketing approach and our systems.  We have already seen positive effects from this but some changes are so recent we cannot yet measure their impact.  There is cause for optimism, however as the initial responses to some of these measures have been very encouraging.

What’s next?  Here are some of the things we have planned and are working on:

  1. Redesigned and repriced membership packages
  2. SPARKS – a partnership promoting summer 9 hole league play
  3. Increased frequency of fun tournaments and other competition
  4. Special events for Mother’s Day, Independence Day, Veteran’s Day, etc.
  5. Negotiations are proceeding with a potential lessee of the restaurant and bar

Future newsletters will be focused on keeping you up to date on events, planned changes, proposals being considered, etc.  You can look forward to hearing from other groups like the Golf Advisory Committee and various groups of golfers on their perspective.  You will learn more about the staff, the facility and other aspects of the operation.  Be sure and let us know what you think of these – what you like and what you’d like to see.  After all, this is for you.