June 11, 2013

Commissioners Present: Cindy Bingham (Chair), Jim Ehrhart (Vice Chair), Lori Arnold, Anne O'Connell, Jeff Odell, Ed Pavlu.

 

Others Present: Mark O'Brien (Director of Golf Operations), Steve Mann (Superintendent), Herb Montgomery (FinCom Liaison), Jim O'Leary (FinCom), Anne LeMaitre (9-Hole Women's Association), Jerri Carlin (9-Hole Women's Association), Rob Harris (CCMGA)

 

Call to Order: Cindy Bingham called the meeting to order at 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, June 11, 2013.

 

A motion to approve the minutes of May 14, 2013 was made by Jim Ehrhart, seconded by Anne O'Connell, motion passed 6-0-0.

 

Public Comment: Bill Fognini and Bobbi Scott were asked the the Commissioners consider a limited class of membership for seniors in their position.  They are Brewster residents paying $750 each for the “morning” AFP class.  Citing that they almost didn't join this year, they suggested a $100/mo membership with a minimum of $400.  They play only 9 holes with a cart in the afternoons from June through September.  Cindy Bingham suugested a “Frequent Player Card” at a cost of $100 each that allows the holder to receive a discount off the published green  fee. The discount is $15/18-holes, $10/9-holes.  A “Twilight” AFP membership ($399) was suggested to them, but they said that was too late in the day for their lifestyle.  The Golf Commission acknowledged the request and will revisit this suggestion later in the year when 2014 rates are discussed.

 

Anne LeMaitre, President of the 9-Hole Women's Association, reported that they have 3 new members, including one new member that joined because of the Captains Open House held earlier this year.

 

Jeff Odell reported that the Friends of the Captains Golf Course held a “Welcome Back, Snowbirds” tournament on Sunday, June 9th.  The event was well received and netted approximately $2000 to their treasury for future projects.

 

Jeff Odell reported that the Friends of the Captains has paid an additional $5358 for the rest of the furniture for the outside seating.  The Women's Association contributed $500 towards the cost of “family tee markers” for the course.  The Friends are holding a “Welcome Back Snowbirds” tournament on Sunday, June 9.

 

Suggestion Box: Jerri Carlin suggested that something be done to ease the slope of the pathway from Starboard #8 to #9.  Possibly adding additional length to the path in the form of a switchback. 


Anne O'Connell received an email from Joanne Hughes requesting that the vegetation around the two ponds not be cut down.  Jeff Odell explained that we only remove the invasive species, primarily Phragmites, from the ponds while leaving the native cattails.  Mark O'Brien reported that permission from the Brewster Conservation Commission was granted for the removal of this material.

 

Anne O'Connell asked about the dress code for the restaurant staff.  Mark O'Brien said he would look into it.

 

Director of Golf Operations Report: Mark O'Brien

 

Mark O'Brien presented a letter that he received from Amanda and Tom McCarthy. Mr. McCarthy joined the course after letting his membership lapse for several years.  He wrote, “For the next several year, I will still only see you 3-4 times a season, but appreciate the great job you do welcoming people and maintaining two beautiful golf courses”.

 

A motion was made to issue a refund of $850 to Richie Golden, who had not played any rounds. Motioned by Jim Ehrhart, seconded by Anne O'Connell, passed 6-0-0.

 

A motion was made to issue a refund of $645 to Kerry Garber, who had played 3 times with greens fees that would have totaled $105. Motioned by Jim Ehrhart, seconded by Anne O'Connell, passed 6-0-0.

 

A motion was made to issue a non-transferable credit towards 2014 membership of $1155 to John Moran, who had played more than three times with greens fees that would have totaled $345.  Motioned by Jim Ehrhart, seconded by Anne O'Connell, passed 6-0-0.

 

Maximilian Gilbert and his sister requested the opportunity to have a fund-raiser to benefit Cell Phones For Soldiers.  Last year they raised over $2500 towards this cause.  A motion was made to allow the fund-raiser on July 27-28, 2013.  Motioned by Jim Ehrhart, seconded by Jeff Odell, passed 6-0-0.

 

Sean O'Claire, of the North American Pro Golf Tour, has requested permission to hold a tournament at Captains this year.  It was felt that this could be leveraged to provide additional marketing exposure for the golf course.  There will be 50-70 golfers on the first two days, with a cut to the top 33 on the final day. A motion was made to allow the tournament on September 3-5 at 60% greens fees.  Motion made by Jim Ehrhart, seconded by Anne O'Connell, passed 6-0-0.

 

Financial Presentation: Mark O'Brien

 

In May, the membership revenues continued to perform well.  We had good green fee numbers until we lost a day during the Memorial Day weekend due to bad weather.  Even though 2012 had good weather comparatively, we still outperformed green fee revenue during May 2013.

 

Lori Arnold asked why “operating expenses” were high compared to last year ($61K vs $43K in 2012).  Mark O'Brien will look into exactly why this number was high in May 2013.

 

For the calendar year, membership also performing well.  We are still on target to meet the revised projections supplied to the Board of Selectmen and Finance Committee in January of this year.

 

Herb Montgomery noted that if June has similar operating expenses as May, then the course should beat its projection by approximately $107K.  Mark O'Brien corrected this by noting that the “Cart Lease” item of ($112K) needed to be included in the calculation, therefore the revised projection is still valid.

 

It was also pointed out that “Snack Bar Rent” (or restaurant lease) was projected to be $50K, however, the new projection is $48K.  This represents the minimum contractual payment for the lease.

 

Wages are approximately $12K over budget, however, operating expenses will be under by about the same amount to balance the FY13 budget.  The projected “return to the town” after capital improvements and debt service still stands at -$225K.

 

Herb Montgomery asked about marketing, noting that he had no seen advertising in local newspapers this year.  Mark O'Brien acknowledged that we have not be using print advertising based on recommendations from our marketing/PR consultants.  There have been a number of (free) articles including a couple of items about The Back Nine Cafe in the Cape Cod Times, the Boston Globe ran a story about one of our rangers, and we have a weekly “tips column” in The Cape Codder.  Mark will be meeting with the consultant next week to firm up or marketing spending for FY14.  We held an Open House during Brewster In Bloom weekend.  We have invited members of the Media to come see and play the course, and have invested efforts towards “search engine optimization” for our website.

 

Herb Montgomery asked if the golf financial reports could be standardized so that reports from different areas (budget, projections, and golf commission reports) could be compared easily.  Rob Harris suggested that the format should also include the Annual Budget Document.  Mark said he would work on this.  Cindy Bingham suggested that FinCom stay involved with restructuring these reports.

 

Jim O'Leary (FinCom) asked about the drop in “Advanced Reservations” on the financial reports over the years.  Mark O'Brien explained that in the current economic climate, golfers no longer feel the need to make advance reservations and instead wait until the last minute to book tee times.  This line item is mostly just the amount of hotel reservations that are made.  Daily Fee Players can book tee times on the website, or by calling our reservation line, or calling the pro shop.

 

Jim Ehrhart asked if we charge people that book tee times and do not show up.  Mark said “yes”.

 

Jim O'Leary noted that guest play for calendar year 2013 is the lowest in many years.  Mark explained that last year we had excellent weather, especially compared to the 2013 season so far.  Rob Harris pointed out that the percentage of member play was also down this year which is an indication that the weather conditions have been poor.  Jeff Odell explained that we keep the Daily Fee Tee Times available for the public until 8:00 p.m. the night before play compared to noon just a few years ago.

 

Membership Data through May 30, 2013

 

2012

2013

change

Early ($850)

330

347

+17

Morning ($750)

320

303

-17

Twilight ($399)

41

41

-1

Adult Resident Totals

690

690

-1

Charter ($1300)

6

7

+1

Non-Resident ($1500)

127

159

+32

Resident Junior ($175)

32

37

+5

N-R Juniors ($250)

2

5

+3

Total

858

898

+40

 

Cindy Bingham asked if the Non-Residents are new or returning members.  Mark answered about 50/50.

 

Jim Ehrhart asked what towns the additional Non-resident members are from.  Mark answered, in order of most to least: Orleans 79, Eastham 31, Chatham 27, Harwich 8, Yarmouth 3, Dennis 2, Wellfleet 2, Truro 1, and “Off Cape” 2. 

Jim Ehrhart mentioned that he spoke with two new members from Orleans recently.  They were very happy with the rate that they play, however, they were concerned about the necessity to call for tee times at 6pm two days prior to play.  Jim thought that more members might join if they did not have to be near their phone at 6pm.  Rob Harris suggested that one possible solution would be to move away from the telephone reservation system towards a “random lottery request” system.  The Chelsea Tee Time Reservation system will support a “random lottery” where members would be allowed to make requests, either by phone or web, from 2 to 7 days prior to play.  At 6:00pm two days prior to play, the computer would take all of the requests and “shuffle” them into a random sequence and fill each tee time request as close as possible.  This is not the same as a “points” based system used at other courses.  The random method closely mimics that “telephony lottery” that we currently use where some members call in and the phone rings, while other hear a busy signal.  The commission asked Mark O'Brien to look into the possibility of doing a short trial of this system.

 

Jim Ehrhart asked if the Gold Tees could be played by members under the age of 75.  Mark answered that (other than tournaments) any player, regardless of age, could play from the gold tees and post a score from those tees.

 

Mark O'Brien showed the “Family Tee Markers” that were given to the town by The Friends of Captains.  Major funding for this purchased was provided by the 18- and 9-Hole Women's Associations.  Anne O'Connell asked if we could have these tee rated by the Massachusetts Golf Association.  Mark O'Brien will ask to have the tees rated.  This will allow official handicap scores and competitions to be played from these tees.

 

Superintendent's Report: Golf Course is in good shape.

 

Cindy Bingham asked if the rocks from the front-right, green-side bunker on Port #4.

 

Cindy Bingham said she was following a group of Daily Fee Players on Port #13. They removed the ropes and drove their cart to the green.  She requested that we add “cart —>” signs to the hole.

 

Jim Ehrhart requested that the vegegation near the Captains sign on Freemans Way be trimmed for visibility.

 

Jim Ehrhart asked if we could study the use of overtime pay on weekends to see if we could save some money by staggering some shifts.  Mark O'Brien explained that the union contract requires that each employee have two consecutive days off per week.  Overtime workers are used on weekends in a four-hour shift (5am-9am).  Jim suggested that some workers could work Tuesday through Saturday, and Sunday through Thursday to eliminate much of this expenses. Overtime pay is paid for any time over 8 hours per day, or 40 hours per week.  Mark said that people enjoy playing golf more when there are no workers on the course.  Overtime is utilized for Weekends, Aerification, and Holidays. Cindy Bingham pointed out that the inter-municipal agreement for aerification should eliminate the need for that overtime. Mark O'Brien said that he would look into it and report back to the Commission.

 

Jim Ehrhart inquired about what action had been taken regarding “pirate golfers” playing after the pro shop closes.  Mark added two new signs stating that this was not acceptable.  He also added a “super-twilight” rate that begins 30 minutes prior to close.  We collected fees from 36 people for this rate classes in the last couple of weeks.  Starting on June 28th, the pro shop will be open until 7pm.  We are policing the area and have kicked people off the course that have not paid.

 

A meeting with the Hidden Cove developer (near Starboard #7) will be held with Mark O'Brien, Jim Ehrhart, and Charles Sumner.  Ed Pavlu asked if there is any liability for damage to future homes by golf balls.  Mark stated that Captains is not liable for any damages, however, the golfer may be liable.

 

Cindy Bingham asked about the policy of staffing the shop on rainy days.  Mark said his employees are answering phones, restocking, and performing other tasks required by management.  If the rain stops, then the course will reopen and the employees will be required.  Mark said “We send them home when we can.”

 

Cindy Bingham asked about the (Port) Snack Shack hours of operation.  Mark reported that The Back Nine Cafe has been having staffing issues, but the shack should be opened from 9am to 3pm daily.  The beverage cart does not have required hours.

 

Cindy Bingham asked about parking in the loading dock.  Apparently, a member of the restaurant was injured and parked there for about a week.  This has already been resolved.

 

Cindy Bingham asked for any rate suggestions.  Non-resident Twilight rate, paying for more privileges, paying for priority tee times, senior or seasonal rates, and a “walk-on” (no tee times) rate were suggested.

 

Jim Ehrhart and the entire commission commended Lori Arnold on her dedicated service to the Golf Commission over the past three years.  Lori has been an active member of the commission and worked diligently on improving marketing efforts at The Captains Golf Course.

 

Marc Fontaine has been reappointed by the Board of Selectmen for an additional three-year term until June 30, 2016.  Rob Harris has been appointed to the Golf Commission effective July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2016.

 

A motion to adjourn was made by Lori Arnold, seconded by Jim Ehrhart, passed 6-0-0.

 

The next meeting is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, July 9, 2013 at 4:00 p.m. at The Captains Golf Course conference room.

 

Respectfully Submitted,

Rob Harris

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