Battle lines forming over Oakmont golf aid
Al Haggerty and Jim Brewer
No sooner had peace been declared in the Oakmont pickleball wars than new battle lines began forming over the future of the two golf courses that are home to Oakmont’s foundation sport.
The independently operated Oakmont Golf Club (OGC) says that while it’s doing OK financially right now, all residents should share the cost of operating the courses because they benefit from valuable services like water drainage and maintenance of open space. Opponents, many of them familiar names from the not-exactly-distant pickleball era, are having none of it – at least until the golf club provides financial reports and data to support its contentions.
At a two-hour town hall on July 10, loud applause in support of an Oakmont Village Association (OVA) aid package for OGC echoed through a packed Berger Center.
But just two weeks later, opponents filled up the East Rec Center for a “fireside chat” hosted by Oakmont board member Greg Goodwin, where it was suggested that the town hall audience had been stacked with golf supporters.
“Personally, I wouldn’t have a problem donating to the golf course if I knew specifically what the money was going to,” Goodwin said. The OGC, he added, needs to look at long-term situations, like the impact of a severe drought and government-imposed water restrictions.
“To me, the golf course has to really show that they are doing everything possible ... and quite honestly I just don’t see that at this time,” Goodwin said.
At the Berger town hall, dozens of residents stepped up to the mic to address golf-related questions the OVA Board of Directors has been wrestling with since late last year.
Resident Judy Coleman said, “A vibrant, active community like ours doesn’t just happen. A community has to be committed to supporting the active lifestyle. If the golf courses fail, the stigma of failure and the resulting mess will impact every aspect of Oakmont life.”
Another resident painted a picture of “weeds and a brown horror show,” adding, “Nobody wants that.” Strong applause followed another resident voicing support for temporary help for the OGC and another calling for all residents to contribute to its support.
Contrary opinions focused on the lack of concrete proposals and financial data available for the membership to see.
“It has been mismanaged for years, and the club has provided no plan for what it wants to do with the money. We have been kept in the dark,” said Pat Clothier. “We need evidence that they will put effort into making corrections before we divert money to help them.”
Lynda Oneto, former member of the OVA board, said the OVA doesn’t have the money to support the golf club and that maintenance of OVA facilities should take precedence. She said contributions to the club should be voluntary.
The OVA board has seen some of the club’s financials, but it signed a non-disclosure agreement based on the proprietary nature of the data. And while the board has sought ideas and proposals, it has yet to reveal any formal plan to respond to OGC’s request for financial aid.
Tom Kendrick, vice president of the board, who has been working closely with the OGC to address its request for financial help, said after the meeting that he hopes the issue will be resolved “in a few months,” quickly adding that he’s been wrong before. He said “more exploration” of the issue is needed.
Addressing reports that OVA was considering a $1.4 million aid package for the golf courses, Kendrick said, “I don’t see that happening under any circumstances.” He added that he’s hearing from “an awful lot of people that something should be done.” He said he has seen the OGC financials for the last three years and they paint a picture that is “not great.” While the operation showed a .9 percent profit over the last five years, he said, the results have been “inconsistent” and not all the course maintenance is being done.