Rec. Authority votes to close Pines golf course

Published 7:11 pm Friday, April 22, 2016

The Bainbridge-Decatur County Recreation Authority voted 4-0 Thursday to close the Pines Golf Course, effective July 1.

Originally, the motion was defeated by an opposed vote by Jeff Lynn, but after discussion, a motion to reconsider was made.

The Recreation Authority voted in February to accept responsibility of the Pines as of July 1, when the authority’s fiscal year begins.

The authority took into consideration the number of players who use the Pines, the amount of money it makes and the condition of the course, concluding that none of those areas were viable enough to keep the course open.

According to numbers from Pines manager Roland Hebert, from January to December 2015, the Pines had gross sales of $24,018.54 and total expenses of $68,723.95. In March 2016 alone, Hebert’s figures show there were 134 players and $1,758.31 in revenue.

The Pines is allocated $104,000 per year from Decatur County.

Lynn said based on the numbers provided by Hebert, he could not make a sound decision on the Pines. However, he did believe there needed to be some sort of golf offering from the Recreation Authority.

“I don’t want to see golf go away,” authority member Bert Hines said. “I play golf, and I want everybody to have that opportunity. But financially, I can’t see how we can do (keep it open). Not with the play it’s getting, and the way it’s looking.”

Bainbridge City Manager Chris Hobby cited that the 2,500 public, county and municipal golf courses in the U.S. average 23,000 rounds apiece per year. To be viable, 10,000 rounds a year are needed. The Pines averages around 650 per year.

In addition to the course’s usage, questions on how the Pines was maintained were brought up as well.

“Just walking the course, we couldn’t tell the difference between the greens and the ruffs,” authority member Carol Floyd said. “The putting area was dirt. I asked somebody that was actually playing (what they thought), and he said, ‘I haven’t been out here in years, and I won’t be back.’”

Tommy Lashley, who managed the Pines from 2001-2002, gave a presentation to the authority on how he would take over the course. Part of his pitch was improving the greens and cleaning up the fairways.

Decatur County Administrator Alan Thomas said if the authority had not taken responsibility of the course, the future of the Pines would have been discussed, “as to the continuance of it or other options,” he said.

“They have no recreation for Decatur County now, only for the city,” Hebert said. “The only recreation for Decatur County is the golf course.”