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Third General Manager in 5 Years Takes Over Palm Coast’s Troubled Golf and Tennis Clubs

| February 12, 2015

KemperSports's new general manager at Palm Coast's golf and tennis operations.

KemperSports’s new general manager at Palm Coast’s golf and tennis operations.

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.

A contractor puts a bright face on a money-losing operation year after year as taxpayers foot the bill.

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.

28 Responses for “Third General Manager in 5 Years Takes Over Palm Coast’s Troubled Golf and Tennis Clubs”

  1. Johnny Taxpayer says:

    The tennis club was a mistake, it should be sold and Mr. Mayor who was on the council back then championing this as a money maker for the city should be held accountable. The golf course on the other hand does not need to turn a profit to be a overall positive for the City. That needs to be evaluated as an overall economic impact to the City, rather than just a profit and loss statement for the club itself. How many houses abut the Golf Course? I would think the increased property tax revenue alone to the city for all those houses having an open golf course, versus the alternative should easily cover $59k net operating loss and much more.
    But… I’m not sure how a Music major who played golf at a municipal course is qualified to run this enterprise?

    • Howard Duley says:

      Another boondoggle brought to you by the people who know every thing there is to know about loosing the tax payers money. Your local,county,state and federal government.

  2. hello says:

    Hey what about the Playa Grass tennis courts near European Village. When is that gonna be back and up and running.

  3. Jack Howell says:

    As a tax payer, I am sick and tired of my taxes being used to subsidize a money loosing operation for the benefit of a few. The old Irish saying that “as hard as you try, you can’t polish a turd”. I don’t see any relief of these facilities failing. We are throwing good money after bad in this money pit!

  4. Dennis says:

    Though I’m not a golfer I do play tennis. I looked at this tennis center and have played there. But with over $500 a year for membership is way to high for the normal guy to pay. There are so many other places to play for free. This might want to be something to be address. If they would lower the membership fee this might get more people will to pay for members. Just a thought……..

    • marty says:

      “But with over $500 a year for membership is way to high for the normal guy to pay. ”
      Really? You realize that your full membership is for the entire year, right? If you were to play twice a week, you’d be paying $4.80 each time you play. At three times a week (not at all unusual for recreational players), it’s $3.20. Is that WAY too high?

      “There are so many other places to play for free.”

      Maybe, but the pleasure and comfort of good quality, well-maintained clay courts is not, but well worth the price. Many are willing to pay to preserve their knees.

  5. #1 Gator Fan says:

    Palm Coast needs to get out of the golf course business. Gainesville owns one and it’s been a losing proposition for years and has has cost some commissioners their jobs.

  6. m&m says:

    I golf there and I think if they reduce prices and consintrate on filling the tee times they’ll do fine.

  7. Groot says:

    The golf course has the slowest play in the area and it seems crowded. How they can lose money is beyond me. They have relatively high greens fees and still lose money? We quit going there a while back due to the slow play. Tennis is an even narrower customer base. There is no way it should be city subsidized. Cut the tennis lose entirely. A few basic public tennis courts around the city are okay but not a tennis center that should be totally privately funded and run. As for the golf course, give it 6 months to turn a profit or cut it lose.

  8. Billy Bob says:

    Dude does not have a degree, school offers a certificate program in music tech. Maybe he could DJ a concert, that would make money.

  9. Brad says:

    I wish Brad all the best and hope he brings some fresh new ideas that will allow those facilities to pay for themselves.

    One thing I’d love to see come to the Palm Harbor Golf course, and whole-heartedly believe it would, solve a great deal of the revenue issue, is Foot Golf. It’s golf played by kicking a soccer ball. It’s a simple update to green to add in a 15″ hole that can easily be covered with a “lid”. You don’t change the course at all. They could open up times for a whole new set of players to come out and play the game a little differently. Foot Golf is turning ailing golf courses all over the country around financially.

  10. Attraction says:

    If you want to attract more business, remove the Red Light Cameras! Nobody wants to drive through a gauntlet of Red Light Cameras to go play golf, tennis or even shop.

  11. NortonSmitty says:

    This is re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic thinking. The powers that be in this town have to realize that the demographics are changing rapidly here. I suggest that they bulldoze these white elephants that represent our hopeful past and face the reality of our newer residents taking over. And build something appropriate. Like maybe a stadium expensive enough to get us on the World Domino Championship Tour. Or maybe at least a televised stop on the US Crap-Shooting Championship.

    I’m open to offers on a short-term consulting gig. Have your people call my people.

    • Outsider says:

      Yes, I think we need some activities that more accurately reflect the newcomers to Palm Coast. Maybe we could have a hyroponic marihuana growing competition, or how about a meth cooking contest, similar to a BBQ cook off? Or maybe competitive house shooting? Competitive wife beating, anyone?

      • NortonSmitty says:

        Good ideas, but too late. The Mondaks already have those covered.

        But maybe we cold get Trump to host a reality show here where teams of newly minted MBA’s come here for a competition and the one that illegally repossesses the most houses in a week gets an internship or something. I can see it now! With a catchy name like Flagler Foreclose-O-Rama, Palm Coast Padlock Stars or something. Robo-Sign Repo-Fest? We got plenty of time to run it past the test audiences to lock down the best name, but I think we got a winner of a concept here! And as always, I expect to be rewarded for my genius like all who aspire to reap the financial incentives available working in the Real Estate industry. So as always, I’m open to offers on a short-term consulting gig. Preferably on a percentage basis. Have your people call my people

  12. The change game says:

    So is this correct? The tax payers of Flagler County were promised that the golf course and tennis club would be self sustaining. Year after year they are not and so we are forced to pay out of our pockets to subsidize them. Now, good old Landon and Netts quietly change the game saying that the golf park and tennis club are no longer reqired to be self sustaining?? Does anyone else see how much this is costing us?? The Landon and Netts duo also have subjected us to millions of lost revenue through the red light camera scam! Essentially they broke the law by forcing us to pay the tickets issued from Texas. When will people get tired of them costing us money? Aren’t taxes enough?

    • jlathan says:

      Seriously do you think that if they close the golf course and tennis club we will pay less in taxes? In addition I agree our tax revenue will go down due to the abandoned golf course

  13. Anonymous says:

    Gang members and drug dealers don’t play golf,sell off the properties

    • NortonSmitty says:

      But just because they don’t play doesn’t mean they don’t find them useful. Remember this signpost that signalled the start of the long slide to Holly Hillhood?

  14. Rob says:

    Don’t forget to factor in the $1,000,000 start up check given to Kemper, before the course even opened. It was like oh by the way we need another $1,000,000.
    Who wrote that business plan. Guess what would happen to someone in private industry whose oversight or incompetence cost the company $1,000,0000
    Golf course operators around the country were trying to get OUT of the golf course business, courses were almost a dime a dozen and these people masquerading as town councilors were busy getting INTO the golf course business.
    They had a chance to turn the management over to a company who promised to underwrite any loses. That would be no worse that what is happening now and this crew on the town council votes to remain in the same predicament , and it seems because they was a room of cheerleaders for Kemper.
    Early on Landon threw out a number like 40,000 rounds of golf per year. Did anyone on the town council have enough sense to analyze that number. That golf course won’t see that many golfers per year in the next 10 years, if ever.
    Get rid of that golf course, there has to be another sucker similar to the town council that will rush in to purchase it. Or is the city stuck with it because of back room deals made with the developer who owned the property?

  15. Cathy Saris says:

    Many people move here for the active lifestyle. For me, it was for the Tennis! I do not play golf, which loses more money than tennis, nor do I have children. My tax dollars go for all the wonderful community offerings that Palm Coast has. Do not rid of one because one does not use the facility. I do not play golf and think they are many other golf courses in Palm Coast that are not losing money like The Grand Club. I am not saying to close it. I am saying lets band together and find an answer. Fund raisers? etc.

  16. David B. says:

    They got to get the younger families involved in these 2 great sports, and stop depending on the fixed income retirees to try turn these amenities around. I play golf occasionally at the city golf course, and hardly ever see families out their playing golf, just a bunch of retirees. I was raised by parents who both played golf, and we always played together at a Public Golf Course. I miss those days. My Parents and golf were both major factors in my life.

    • NortonSmitty says:

      That’s a thought. How about any homesteaded resident is allowed to bring a child and play for free on a slow day? This will get future players interested, bond the community and reward the younger working class families that will grow the community once we shake the bugs out.

      P.S. We have something in common, you and I. My parents were major factors in my life too. Family legend has it that one even contributed an egg and one a sperm. I wish I could confirm that.

    • Tax Payer says:

      David–There are no jobs here to attract younger persons and those that are here are having to work 2 jobs or more just to survive. Most jobs that are here are paying $8-$15/hr. With car payments, house payment/rent, insurance, phone, food, clothing, water, electricity, taxes, gas etc. people can’t make it. If jobs paid more to those in the county, schools and hospitals (main employers) those people would have money to reinvest back into the county….as it is now, they don’t. Instead of spending money on things like a golf course that are only going to benefit a few, focus on what is going to benefit the majority of the people and generate the most reinvestment by those that live here.As it is now people leave the county to shop and buy gas and are fed up with the local leaders making our community an unfriendly place. Until common sense approach is used the retired people will have to pay for the pleasures they enjoy, Local leaders can’t keep doing the same thing over and over and expect a different result. That’s called insanity. Perhaps it is time for a new city manager….Jim Landon and Jon Netts have about drove this place in the ground, and have ran people out of here by making it unaffordable and unpleasant to live here. There is no reason for Landon’s salary to be more than the Governor’s!

  17. confidential says:

    Golf and tennis are two important amenities of our city that also enhance all our property values…Now what I believe that is taking place is financial mismanagement of the golf course as I see it as I practically reside on the course. That mismanagement will not stop until an oversight vlunteer committee of golf aficionados, landscaper and cpa is created and the financial records of the golf course under Kemper are totally transparent and provided for our city government and a public budget to be monitored. Is a done deal now…as they tell us not enough revenue so we need more money then we swallow it, fund their deficit not questions asked…Helloo who is in their pocket here?

  18. palmcoastpioneers says:

    Why aren’t you being told this:
    I / We paid huge premiums for ‘ Golf Course Locations ‘ and ‘ Canal Locations – when we brought in the Special Investigative Units of the United States Department of Justice the F.T.C. ORDERED as REDRESS compensation for me/us ‘…significant areas of Conservation…’ and ‘ significant areas of Preservation..’ and ‘…significant areas of Recreation ‘. Also Federally ORDERED were the Palm Harbor Shopping Center, a multi purpose business building (to attract Industry), community wide landscaping, etc.

  19. Jorge Avila says:

    The city built the $2 million dollar (YES $2 million dollar!!) tennis center for a select few. These people said they would have tournaments and different events that would make the place ‘pay for itself’. It’s never happened. I believe that since only a few in out city desire to have this money pit, the membership fees should be raised. If you want a ‘special’ club or what is in effect a ‘private’ club, which most PC folks don’t belong to, you should pay for that privilege.

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