Billy Casper Golf will end its management of Bradford Creek Golf course effective March 31, Greenville officials said.
The golf design and management firm announced it was terminating its agreement with the City of Greenville in a March 25 letter.
“As discussed prior, Bradford Creek has not performed as expected, albeit two hurricanes have adversely impacted revenues of the facility,” Mike Cutler, the company’s senior vice president, wrote. “Unfortunately, we have exhausted all reasonable efforts to create a sustainable business and expect the operation loss will be $150,000 per annum for the foreseeable future.”
An email and telephone call to the company’s media relations office for additional comment was not returned.
“We’ve wanted them to be successful, of course, but they were struggling, we could tell that. We are of course disappointed that they are not interested in continuing to manage the course,” said Gary Fenton, Greenville Recreation and Parks director. “I don’t have a lot of answers yet about where we go from here. We are going to consider all the possibilities and speak with the (city) council regarding the possibilities in order to determine the direction we should go.”
The course will remain operational until March 31 and hopefully beyond, he said.
“I think golf has been a nice addition to our menu of recreational opportunities here in Greenville. We will continue to look at a way of preserving that,” Fenton said.
Billy Casper Golf’s notice came 45 days after the City Council conducted a review the course finances. The review was conducted at the course 18-month mark of the five-year contract with Billy Casper Golf.
The contract required the city to pay a $85,000 fee to Billy Casper along with keeping 15 percent of any profits up to $25,000 annually.
The city also agreed to pay a subsidy that started at $100,000 and was supposed to decline by $25,000 for the next four years.
However, Billy Casper Golf asked the city to keep the subsidy at $100,000 for the second year instead of dropping it to $75,000 because course closures caused a larger than expected loss of revenues.
The council unanimously approved a motion maintaining the $100,000 payment during the 2019-20 fiscal year which ended Tuesday.
The subsidy will drop to $50,000 when the 2020-21 fiscal year starts today.
The city’s long-time goal for the course was to make it self-sustaining, operating off the revenues generated from daily rounds of golf and tournaments.
However, the city has long had to use tax dollars to subsidize its operations. The last year the city operated the course it took $236,270 for the general fund budget and put it toward operations, Assistant City Manager Michael Cowin said during a Feb. 10 city council workshop.
“It’s been a benefit to us,” Cowin said. “That contribution the city makes has been a benefit to them, maybe not quite to the level they wanted to see the first year but it’s something we can continue to work at.”
During the Feb. 10 meeting, the council was shown that the number of rounds of golf at the course decreased in fiscal year 2018-19, in part because of flooding.
Areas of the golf course flood, not only during hurricanes but when there are extended periods of rain, Fenton said Monday. The recent rise in the Tar River produced flooding that shut down some areas of the course.
Fenton said he expects this year’s number of golf rounds will also decrease, even though the golf course was one of the few recreational areas that remained open, with restrictions, during the “stay home” phase of the pandemic.
“I think there were a lot of people laid off, which gives them a lot of time, but it doesn’t give them a lot of money,” Fenton said. “I do wonder if there was any impact of people who might normally play who felt compelled to not to because their income was impacted by a layoff or reduction in hours.”