Paul Simon says, let First Tee run the Augusta Municipal Golf Course, aka "The Patch", and it will make money for his organization and the city...after a $2 million renovation.
For some city leaders, Simon's proposal makes the most sense.
"We're talking about turning revenue, bringing in new revenue for Augusta-Richmond County. It's risk-reward, but you have to pay to play. But in this particular case, this is the best deal that I've seen in the city, [in the] years that I've been up here on this commission," says Simon.
Augusta Commissioners were holding a work session Monday to discuss the First Tee proposal.
Simon has made some changes from his original proposal: reducing the contract length, and agreeing to have the city take a greater split of revenues if the course makes money. The city, though, would be responsible for all losses.
But, Anthony Griffin says...not so fast. The Grovetown businessman has another proposal for "The Patch". He also wants to partner with the city to create a state-of-the-art practice and golf facility at the course. Yes, he still wants $2 million in city money, but he says he will put up $5 million of company money into the golf course.
"If they give us a letter of intent, and give us the $2 million and go ahead and move forward with ours, we'll sit down with our bankers and financial people. Let's move, we are ready to start...the sooner the better," said Griffin, whose plans include a double decker lighted driving range, a fitness center, and having a restaurant and a coffee shop at the course.
But, Commissioner Grady Smith says these two proposals require millions of city money, which is something he doesn't want to pay for at "The Patch".
"Let's make everybody earn what they do, not these big giveaways at government expense," says Smith.
Smith says, unlike First Tee or Griffin's proposals, he's been contracted by two local groups willing to lease the course and put up their own money.
"A group of people who have substantial money and know the folks who have it, who want to come in and do something back for Augusta, because Augusta and the CSRA have been great to them," Smith says.
But, these are 11th hour proposals with the Commission scheduled to vote on the First Tee proposal at the August 6th meeting.
Commissioners seem divided on what course to take at "The Patch", with the options being partner with First Tee, or going back out for other proposals, or to keep the operation in-house as part of the Augusta Recreation, Parks, and Facilities Department.
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