Third General Manager in 5 Years Takes Over Palm Coast’s Troubled Golf and Tennis Clubs
FlaglerLive | February 12, 2015
Brad Adams is the new General Manager of Palm Harbor Golf Club and the Palm Coast Tennis Center, the city of Palm Coast’s troubled municipal golf course and tennis facility. He is the third general manager in five years. He replaces Rich Stanfield, who’d left several months ago. Bob Duquette had assumed the role on an interim basis. Tom Cioffi had preceded Stanfield.
Adams takes over as both golf and tennis operations continue to lose money. (The golf course raised rates in January.)
The facilities are run by KemperSports, the Northbrook, Il.-based management company that’s had the contract since the golf course opened at the end of 2009 after Centex, the development corporation, donated it to the city. Kemper has pledged since to turn a profit, or at least to break even, with every general manager at one time or another telling the city council that the break-even point was within reach. Neither has happened at either facility, which have each run six-figure deficits every year. Year after year the facilities’ officials have offered an array of excuses–bad weather, golf’s declining popularity, cold weather, intense competition, muggy weather, lack of youth involvement, rainy weather, and so on.
The tennis center and the golf course both finished December with revenue 11 percent below budget. The tennis center had an overall loss of $3,466, adding to a cumulative loss so far this fiscal year of $14,277, according to Kemper’s January financial report to the city. The organization blames the December loss on slower participation in camps and clinics, with private lessons alone falling nearly $1,000 below budget.
The golf course’s losses so far this year total $59,000. The city makes up the loss out of its general revenue. “The month of December started slow as we experienced frost delays in the beginning of the month,” Kemper’s Ricardo Catarino, regional operations director for Kemper Sports, wrote in his monthly financial report. “The unseasonably cold weather and rain created frost delays for six days and lead to some cart path only restrictions.” (Catarino is being replaced by Jody Graham in that role.)
The city council considered replacing Kemper last fall when its contract was up. That’s what the city administration recommended. But a combination of orchestrated pressure from the voter-rich golf membership at the club and unease at changing management company without a clearer path to profitability led the council to stick with Kemper–and concede that losses will continue for the foreseeable future.
The council and City Manager Jim Landon now say that the two operations should be seen in the framework of the city’s other parks and recreation operations, which are not designed to make money but to offer a service to residents. The difference, of course, is that the city’s parks and recreations facilities are free. Kemper’s operations are not. In other words, taxpayers continue to subsidize a fee-for-service operation most cannot afford, and that is designed to stand alone.
The News-Journal first reported Adams’s take-over last week. Adams, according to a news release the city issued this morning, is new to KemperSports, coming from Atlanta-based Sequoia Golf Management, where he held management positions at several golf courses that required revitalization.
Adams, 34, plays golf and tennis and says is looking forward to continuing a high level of customer service and maintaining Palm Harbor Golf Club and the Palm Coast Tennis Center as important community assets. His goals include improving participation by attracting more young and middle-aged adults to the sports and by expanding outreach to youth through junior programs.
As General Manager, Adams is responsible for the entire golf course and tennis center operations, including turf care, golf operations, and food and beverage at Palm Harbor, and care of the facility and tennis operations at Palm Coast Tennis Center. The facilities employ about 40 people combined, in season. They are not on the city’s payroll, but are paid by the city through Kemper.
“I’m from Nashville, Tennessee, and I grew up playing municipal courses,” Adams said. “We had a major city park – Warner Parks – right next door, with two courses, hiking trails and a nature center. I spent a lot of time there playing golf, and as a volunteer and Boy Scout.”
Adams worked at a golf course while attending Nashville State Community College, where he earned a degree in music technology. He has served as a volunteer with Rally for the Cure, Special Olympics and Arnie’s Army (which battles prostate cancer).
“We are delighted to welcome Brad Adams to Palm Harbor Golf Club and the Palm Coast Tennis Center,” said Palm Coast Parks & Recreation Director Luanne Santangelo in the release. “He has good ideas and great experience that will benefit our golf course and tennis center and make them the best they can be for our citizens.”
Carved between palm trees and old oaks cradled with Spanish moss, the golf club features a daily fee municipal course and full-service practice facility with a driving range, putting green and chipping green complete with a bunker, pro shop and Canfield’s Restaurant.
“The focus for 2015 remains on improving the bottom line, while making sure conditions are improving and the course is maintained according to common expectations. We saw some positive traction from our marketing efforts to reach outside of the community to drive rounds as well as returning customer loyalty from snowbirds,” Catarino reported. “December saw an uptick in rounds and revenues despite some unseasonably cold weather. The team will continue to strive for positive financial results while maintaining award winning customer service and improving the overall conditions.”
The Palm Coast Tennis Center at 1290 Belle Terre Parkway features 10 HydroGrid clay tennis courts, lighted to tournament standards. The Tennis Center is certified as a Quickstart Tennis Site and as a Cardio Tennis Site and won the 2010 USTA National Award for Outstanding Small Public Facility.