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Published: Tuesday, 3/9/2010

City of Toledo lining up new firm to run golf courses

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Herbert Blanchard, 75, golfed Mondaat Ottawa Park, one of three golf courses run by the city. Herbert Blanchard, 75, golfed Mondaat Ottawa Park, one of three golf courses run by the city.
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The Bell administration wants new management at the city's three public golf courses this year.

Toledo City Council today is to review a request from Mayor Mike Bell to hire Master Golf Management, which is run by Greg Fish, to operate Ottawa, Detwiler, and Collins parks.

Mr. Fish, owner of South Toledo Golf Club dome at 3915 Heatherdowns Blvd., said if council approves his contract he will improve programs and playing conditions at the three courses.

“Collins Park has been a big issue for the city since it has been in disrepair,” he said. “We have to bring that facility back up to playing standard and that is going to be the most affordable golf course, but they are all very affordable.”

He also plans to make improvements to the clubhouses, maintenance buildings, and the driving range at Detwiler.

Councilman Steven Steel, chairman of council's youth, parks, recreation, and community relations committee, said many avid golfers have inquired about the status of the golf courses this year.

“I know [the Bell administration] went through a massive process to change direction,” Mr. Steel said. “It seems to me our golf courses should be assets where we generate revenue and offer recreation opportunities.”

He said Ottawa and Detwiler are considered “signature golf courses” in the area.

In March, 2008, the three city-owned golf courses went under the direction of Eagle Golf of Dallas, the first new operator in 23 years. That company acquired operator agreements from American Golf Corp. of Santa Monica, Calif. The deal included owner transfer from American to Eagle of the private Brandywine Country Club in Monclova Township for a recorded sale price of $4.84 million.

American Golf had been under contract with Toledo since 1985, when the city turned over operations after losing hundreds of thousands of dollars a year running the golf courses on its own. American Golf, formerly the largest operator of golf courses in the world, paid the city $156,903 in 2007 to lease all three.

Mr. Fish intends to install new fleets of lawn mowers and golf carts this year to replace ones that Eagle Golf removed at the end of last season.

The city in November advertised its request for firms to operate and manage golf courses. Five companies responded: Eagle Golf, Glass City Golf, Toledo Golf Management, Master Golf Management Group, and TemNic Golf Course Management.

Master Golf Management Group was recommended by the Bell administration because it offered the highest annual income to the city and plans to improve the playing conditions and overall golf programming at Collins Park, according to city records.

Jen Sorgenfrei, Mayor Bell's spokesman, said all of the respondents agreed to have the courses ready by April 1.

“That will include the pro shops, the maintenance, and the grass,” she said. “The vendor takes care of all of that so the city does not mow the golf courses.”

Councilman Lindsay Webb said yesterday she plans to inquire how Mr. Bell's potential plan to slash the parks and recreation budget would affect the golf courses.

Contact Ignazio Messina atimessina@theblade.comor 419-724-6171.



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