Herman Barkley stayed, and played the Augusta Municipal Golf Course, also known as "The Patch", even during the months of city neglect... the dark ages at the course, but now he sees maybe a light at the end of the tunnel.
"The Patch belongs to the city of Augusta, they should invest money in it. If you have one of the greatest tournaments in the world and you don't have [a] municipal golf course, I think that's idiotic," said Barkley.
Next year's Augusta city budget is putting "The Patch" in play, calling for spending $581,000 to fully staff and operate the course.
The city has been running the course on a shoestring since a lease agreement failed more than a year ago.
Augusta Recreation, Parks, and Facilities Department officials say, if Commissioners select a private firm to lease the course again, then plans can change. But, until then, the course should be funded. "I think we just need to put our best foot forward, run the place like it should be run. Then, if the Commission decides we should go with a private manager, we go that way. But, the course is in shape at the time we do that," says the department's director, Bob Levine.
And, that plan has the support of Mayor Pro-Tem Corey Johnson. "Oh, most definitely. Like I said before, we're going to lose more if we don't, so better to keep it funded now and see how this RFP plays out," he says.
But, with the proposed budget facing a more than $7 million shortfall, some Commissioners feel a plan to fund the golf course is not in the city's best interest.
"My priorities are going to be the essential services and our main problems in this community are infrastructure problems and maintenance problems, so I'm going to focus on those main two areas," says Commissioner Mary Davis, who says she's interested to see the proposals to lease the course in the next thirty days.
Levine says, if given the opportunity, he sees the golf course breaking even after three years if left in the hands of his department.
But, with a $7 million shortfall and Commissioners apparently not in favor of a tax increase, keeping the golf course in the budget could prove difficult to swing.
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