Kenwood Press

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News: 03/01/2018

Oakmont Golf Club makes pitch for assistance

At a town hall meeting on Feb. 26, Oakmont Golf Club (OGC) representatives told more than 200 Oakmont residents that current operations of the club’s facilities are not sustainable over time, and that it needs help.

“The OGC is not looking for a bailout,” said Barbara Robinson, president of the Board of Directors of the Oakmont Golf Club. “What it is looking for is support from all Oakmont Village Association (OVA) residents to financially assist the OGC in its efforts to maintain sustainability, which in turn benefits the entire Oakmont community.”

The OGC and the OVA, the organization that represents dues-paying Oakmont residents, are separate financial and operational entities, and have been for the last 25-plus years.

The OGC is owned by its own 400-person membership (75 percent of which are Oakmonters) and controls a $4 million business, including 250 acres comprised of two 18-hole golf courses, pro shops, and the Quail Inn, a restaurant and event center, all open to the public. The OGC employs about 50 people.

Robinson said that the OGC has been breaking even “more or less” the last several years, but major capital expenditures are looming for aging club facilities. She also said that cash flow has been an issue, in part due to heavy rains last year resulting in fewer golf rounds, increased maintenance cost, and cancelled Quail Inn weddings and events due to the wildfires. The OGC board has had to cut operating expenses and raise membership dues, and ask for additional monetary donations, said Robinson.

On a positive note, said Robinson, OGC revenues to date are ahead of budget, and bookings for weddings and golf tournaments are coming in.

What form any potential financial relationship, if any, between the OGC and the OVA would take is the big question, and has not been discussed in any detail between the two boards.

Engagement in any formal talks will have to wait until the current mail-in OVA board election is completed at the beginning of April. Nine people, including three incumbents, are running for five slots on the seven-member board of directors, all with a variety of opinions on how best to proceed.

A letter from OVA attorney Malcolm Manwell was handed out at the beginning of the meeting, which stated that the OVA could participate or support, if it chose to, OGC operations in some fashion.

“In my opinion, the OVA has broad legal authority to provide and support recreational activities and services within Oakmont, including the golf courses”, wrote Manwell.

At the Feb. 26 meeting at the East Recreation Center, entitled, “Economic Benefits of the Oakmont Golf Club to the Community of Oakmont,” OGC representatives said there were many advantages for the general Oakmont populace to having the golf courses and the Quail Inn.

These include maintenance of storm drains and waterways, provision of 250 acres of open space, firebreaks thanks to the golf courses, enhanced property values in the retirement community, and the fact that the Quail Inn acts as an important social center for Oakmont.

A purely illustrative financial OGC-OVA arrangement displayed at the meeting showed that a $5-a-month dues increase for all 4,700 OVA members would bring $284,000 a year to the OGC. Currently, monthly dues for Oakmont residents are $67 a month per person.

As a kind of exchange for a potential dues increase, OGC representatives said they have located three potential locations for a much-desired dog park, as well as possibly offering discounts for Oakmont residents on food and beverage at the Quail Inn.

Members of the community had an opportunity to weigh in after the panel presentation.

Some said that the golf courses were an integral part of the community and the most important amenity. They said golf was an important reason why they moved to Oakmont in the first place, and cited the positive impact on home values.

Others pointed out that golf had nothing to do with why they moved to Oakmont, that there has already been a recent dues increase of $9 and month, and feared that if the OVA “subsidizes” the OGC, there would be ongoing and ever increasing financial obligations. One speaker felt it was inappropriate to use Oakmont dues to support public facilities that legally do not belong to Oakmont, but instead to a separate OGC.

Some other ideas were proposed, such as expanding OGC marketing efforts, and exploring the possibility that OVA members could opt out of paying any dues monies that would hypothetically be going to the OGC.

Any potential financial arrangement between the OVA and OGC will take time to hammer out, with more opportunity for community input along the way.

Editor & Publisher

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Community Calendar

Food Bank comes to Sonoma Valley
Funky Fridays concerts at Hood Mansion
“Fantastical Family Night” at Jack London
Oakmont Farmers Market
Walk ‘n Wag
‘Forest bathing’ hike
“Fantastical Family Night” at Jack London
Kenwood Community Church service
Butterflies and dragonflies hike
Al Anon meeting
Bingo at Rincon Valley Grange

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