The following are the minutes of the Brewster Golf Commission meeting held on March 8, 2011. The meeting was called to order at 3:00 PM.
Commissioners present: Rob Harris, Chairman Cindy Bingham, Vice-Chair Lori Arnold Jeff Odell Marc Fontaine Joe Shaw, Commissioner emeritus
Staff present: Mark O’Brien, Director of Operations
Others present: Jim Foley, Selectmen Liaison Su Ballentine, Finance Committee Liaison Jillian Douglass, Assistant Town Administrator Luke Hinkle, My generation Energy, Inc. Ralph MacDonald John Kelliher Bill Mageean Jo O"Connell Judy McCarthy Bill Barnstead Sharon Marotti
R. Harris called the meeting to order at 3:00 p.m.
The minutes from the February 8, 2011 meeting were reviewed. C. Bingham noted several changes that needed to be made. A motion made by J. Odell, seconded by L. Arnold, to approve the minutes as amended. Motion passed unanimously.
- Ralph MacDonald presented a letter from John Kelliher containing various suggestions. The Commission will take it under consideration.
Jill Douglass gave a report on the status of the solar panel project proposed for the golf course parking lot. The revenues from the solar project would go into the Town's general fund, but the golf course would get credit for these revenues. A proposal from My Generation Energy, Inc. has been received and will be reviewed by the Selectmen within a few weeks. Luke Hinkle from My Generation Energy, Inc. provided some insight to the project. There was concern from the Golf Commission regarding the loss of golf course parking from this proposal. J. Odell said that he thinks this would substantially limit the golf course's ability to draw a major event. M. O'Brien said that the continuous guaranteed revenues generated from the project would most likely outweigh the loss of some future unknown events. R. Harris read an email correspondence from Victor Staley, Brewster Building Commissioner, indicating that the required number of parking spaces for the golf course based on the special permit is 249. This project as proposed would leave the golf course with 258 parking spaces. The question was raised as to whether the project could be moved more to the west where the material storage area is now, move the material storage area further west and thus lose no parking. Another suggestion was moving the project more west so that a portion is on the grass area and there would be less loss of parking. These would all require further review. J. Odell expressed concern over the fact that the Commission was only recently brought into the process even though it has been contemplated for quite awhile. M. O'Brien indicated that Charlie Sumner had indicated to him several months ago that this was being contemplated, but that it was only preliminary. J. Douglass said that now is the proper time for Golf Commission input. C. Bingham felt that it would be good publicity for the golf course to be involved with a green energy project. Katherine Reynolds, who is involved in the project, said that those interested should take a look at www.brewstercommunitysolargarden.com. J. Foley said that he would make sure the Selectmen were aware of the Golf Commission concerns and R. Harris said that he would attend the Selectmen's meeting when this was discussed. The Commission felt that they would like to be involved in the process when siting the panels is planned.
- M. O'Brien wished to publicly thank the grounds crew for their efforts to ready the course for play. Due to their efforts we opened on February 12th and were the first regulation course open in New England. Their efforts also allowed us to open both courses so that we could capture significant green fee revenue that would have been lost otherwise.
- M. O'Brien reviewed the financials from February. Due to our early opening and the snow off Cape, we were able to realize significant revenues that have never been seen in February. Combined green fee, cart, driving range and pro shop revenues were $38,154 in February 2011 as compared to $1,991 in February 2010.
- M. O'Brien made the recommendation to move the Junior Golf Day event start time from 7:00 a.m. currently to 11:00 a.m. for this year. This will minimize the impact of this event on golf course revenues.
- M. O'Brien discussed the information that Ralph MacDonald supplied regarding the company that supplies tee signs, score cards, ball washers, and yardage books for free so that they can sell the advertising on these materials. The Commission has on several occasions discussed advertising on the scorecards and the consensus was that it cheapens our product. We have a large supply of yardage books currently that we sell and having additional books with advertising adds no revenue. The Commission did question if the Town had a policy restricting advertising on public property. J. Foley said that he did not believe that was an issue. It is the feeling of the Commission that if we wanted to have advertising on the golf course it would be more financially beneficial for the course to sell the advertising itself to cover the cost of the tee signs and then we could realize any surplus revenues.
- In S. Mann's absence, M. O'Brien reported that we are going forward with a plan to lease 7 triplex mowers for approval at Town meeting. This is due to the fact that we do not have sufficient cash flow in the Receipts Reserved for Appropriation Account for an outright purchase.
- C. Bingham asked why we did not have cart directional signs on the course once we opened. M. O'Brien will discuss with S. Mann.
- J. Odell made the point that we need to enforce the hard hat policy for maintenance personnel.
- R. Harris reported that he, C. Bingham, M. O'Brien, and S. Mann met to discuss the possibility of earlier start times during the prime season. Due to mowing schedules, watering schedules, spraying requirements, etc., it was determined that starting at 6:00 a.m. on weekdays was not feasible. However, weekends and holidays were doable. Based on this, R. Harris moved that we change the official hours of operations to accommodate having the first starting tee time between 5:55 a.m. and 6:05 a.m. on Saturdays, Sundays, and Holidays beginning with the 3rd Saturday in May and continuing through the 2nd Sunday in August. The clubhouse and driving range to continue to open 30 minutes prior to the first starting tee time. In 2011, those dates are May 21, 2011 through August 14, 2011.
- A question was raised regarding the opening of the restaurant and R. Harris informed them that the restaurant is contractually obligated to open at least 30 minutes prior to the first tee time. The motion was approved unanimously. Jo O'Connell asked that the members be notified of this policy and M. O'Brien indicated that he would send out an email blast to the membership.
- L. Arnold reported that the web site committee reviewed two designs from the web master and are working with the web master to develop a final design. April 1st is the goal for having the web site completed.
- C. Bingham reported that the committee reviewing the restaurant rfp is meeting on Friday to discuss the proposals. Three proposals were submitted. The proposers are The Casual Gourmet, Brewster Hospitality Advisors, and The Back Nine Café. All three candidates will be interviewed on Wednesday, March 16th. At that point the committee will inform Charlie Sumner of its recommendation. He will then open the price proposals and choose the successful bidder based on all the information.
- The Facebook and Social Media policy that was distributed to the Commission from L. Arnold was reviewed. R. Harris made a motion seconded by C. Bingham to adopt the policy. Motion approved unanimously. This will now be submitted to the Selectmen for their approval.
- L. Arnold reported that Kathy Lambert, the Town's IT person, will have wifi hooked up within a month. L. Arnold said she was working with the web master to have a web cam installed showing our first tee area and to be shown on our web site. There was some concern about privacy issues, but it was felt that the web cam would not have a clear enough picture that would allow individuals to be recognized.
- R. Harris reported that he saw Ballymeade had participated in "Groupon", an internet coupon program. He said that in a 48 hour period the promotion generated $60,000 in gift certificate sales. He did not know what portion of this revenue the golf course received, but said it may be something we want to look into.
- R. Harris reviewed comments from the Finance Committee meeting held on February 23rd at which the Golf budget was discussed. The issues included:
- Is there any way to control unemployment costs? M. O'Brien told them that temp services, independent contractor status, legislation, and scheduling have all been investigated, but none offer a solution.
- Would we consider a beverage cart and serving alcohol on the course to enhance revenue? The answer is yes, but the current vendor is under no obligation to provide a beverage cart and serving alcohol on the course would require a change to the current liquor license and need approval from the Selectmen. The only way this would enhance revenue is if these sales increased revenue enough where the percentage lease would kick in (which is unlikely). The new restaurant rfp addresses this issue.
- Improving golf course advertising was emphasized.
- The idea of receiving a portion of the pros teaching income was put forward. The discussion among the Commission was that this would generate an insignificant amount of revenue for the Town.
- The current unlimited play structure for Annual fee Players was discussed and it was suggested that this program should be reconsidered.
- Customer service was emphasized and it was suggested that an outside agency be used for training in this regard.
- It is likely that the Golf Department will need to appear before the Fin Com and Selectmen again to discuss the budget.
- M. O'Brien was asked if the staff would have name tags this year. He replied, "yes". Since there was no other business, a motion was made by C. Bingham to adjourn the meeting, seconded by L. Arnold. The motion was approved unanimously. Meeting adjourned at 5:35 p.m. The next meeting will be held on April 12, 2011 at 4:00 p.m. in the clubhouse conference room.