Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Expert Lays out Plan to Cut Jekyll Island Losses

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Expert Lays out Plan to Cut Jekyll Island Losses

Article excerpt

Byline: Terry Dickson

JEKYLL ISLAND, GA. | By spending $14 million on upgrades and closing one of its three 18-hole golf courses, Jekyll Island could cut its losses, but it would still not be profitable, a consultant told the state-owned island's governing board Monday.

In laying out potential plans for the Jekyll Island Authority Board, National Golf Foundation consultant Richard Singer told the Jekyll Island Authority board, "You have a lot to be proud of, but you have some work to do."

That work includes upgrades to two of the three 18-hole courses and the single 9-hole course, and some immediate work on the Jekyll Island Golf Club clubhouse. Jekyll Island has a fairly new convention center, park and retail center, all overlooking the ocean, and has made deals resulting in new hotels, all in the past few years.

"Now you're at the point," Singer said, "the golf club doesn't match that."

The most recent improvements to golf came 16 years ago when Jekyll Island rebuilt its Pine Lakes 18 and, since then, the remainder have languished. Singer described the golf club staff's work in keeping the courses in shape as heroic, considering the lack of investment.

He recommended Jekyll Island not even consider closing the 9-hole Great Dunes course, which overlooks the ocean, but to upgrade it. Singer said there is a market for historic courses - it was built about 100 years ago - and that golfers would come to Jekyll Island just to play Great Dunes, if it is upgraded and marketed.

With Great Dunes, Jekyll has 63 holes, and Singer said, "That's a lot to manage ... We have some concerns about that."

He recommended that Jekyll keep Oleander, which many golfers consider the island's signature course, but close it for a year for renovation and push play to the Indian Mounds and Pines Lakes courses.

While Oleander is closed, Jekyll Island could experience managing two 18-hole courses and then could decide whether to combine holes from Indian Mounds and Pine Lakes into a single 18-hole layout, he said.

If Jekyll keeps things as they are, it would have a base loss of $850,000 a year; upgrading and keeping 63 holes would reduce the loss to $515,000 a year; maintaining 45 holes would cut the losses to $173,000, he said. …

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