Beach to redesign two golf courses, restructure management
By Jaime Levy
Known for its miles of sparkling blue water and sunny golden sand, Miami Beach wants to complement its rainbow of tourist attractions with rolling greens.
City officials are endorsing $15 million in loans to redesign facilities and develop a new management structure to make Miami Beach's two city-owned golf courses - Bayshore Golf Course, 2301 Alton Road, and Normandy Shores Golf Course, 2401 Biarritz Drive - competitive with other courses.
"Our intention is to make it a resort - a tourist-destination golf course," said Kevin Smith, director of parks and recreation for the City of Miami Beach, of the larger Bayshore project. "It's the one thing missing."
In the fall, Bayshore began getting its face-lift, a $10 million project that will include everything from new grass to a new - and relocated - clubhouse. When the work is completed in fall 2002, Normandy Shores' $5 million makeover will begin.
City officials said the projects were staggered so that one course would remain open throughout the rehabs.
The city has been studying this kind of investment for years, Mr. Smith said. After about 15 to 20 years of leasing the facilities to operators who paid the city rent and were responsible for all aspects of oversight - including making a profit - Miami Beach is shaking up its management arrangement.
When Bayshore's renovations are complete, Pembroke Pines-based PCM, or Professional Course Management, chosen through a request for proposals process, will take over the day-to-day management of the facility.
In the meantime, the company is leasing Normandy Shores from the city. Once the second facility is renovated, PCM, which operates city-owned courses for Miami Shores and Pembroke Pines, will operate both.
Instead of having PCM pay the city rent, the city will pay the firm a management fee of about $300,000 a year, said company president Johnny LaPonzina. Contract negotiations have not yet been finalized.
"We'll pay them the management fee, we'll assume the expenses. They'll work for us rather than for themselves," Mr. Smith said of the arrangement. "I have the ability to control the maintenance standards, fees, service level. It gives us a lot more control."
The ability to collect revenues from the courses will enable the city to pay back the money it borrows for renovations, city officials said.
"We are borrowing the money to build the golf courses and what we pledged to repay is the revenue the golf courses will generate," said City Manager Jorge Gonzalez. "If we upgrade the golf courses, we can generate higher fees - enough to cover the cost of the golf course operations plus the debt service."
Fees will be significantly higher, although residents will get discount, Mr. Smith said. He said a round of golf at Bayshore now costs about $26. He said about 55,000 rounds are played there yearly.
Once the course reopens, Mr. LaPonzina said, 18 holes will range from $50 to $75 at Bayshore, depending on the season, and from $90 to $125 for visitors. Normandy Shores prices will be lower, ranging from $30 to $55 for residents and $50 to $85 for out-of-towners.
"You'll be getting what you're paying for," Mr. LaPonzina said.
The courses are being designed by award-winning golf course architects Arthur Hill/Steve Forrest, out of Toledo, OH. Ken Williams, a design associate with the firm who is working on the Miami Beach projects explained that the courses are not in terrible condition now but need updating.
"Just like any machine, house or anything else, over time things go wrong, things wear down," Mr. Williams said. "The golf course itself has a very good foundation. Because it's such a solid foundation now, it will be a very good golf course for the city when it's done. We don't have to build an entirely new golf course. With a house built right to begin with, a renovation brings it back up instead of leveling it and starting over. The original work there is pretty good.
"It's more common for private clubs to do this because typically, funding is easier to raise," he said. "Sometimes it's not as high on a city's list of things to do. The city here appreciates the value of its golf course and wants to bring it up to speed with the rest of Miami Beach."