Council voices concern over management of Elizabethton Golf Course

Published 9:02 pm Thursday, January 10, 2019

Hampton Golf took over management of the Elizabethton Municipal Golf Course in April of 2018.

And now, roughly nine months later, the Elizabethton City Council have a lot of question about how the golf course is being managed.

During Thursday night’s council meeting, the council considered a budget amendment that would raise the $90,000 that was originally appropriated to the EMGC to $140,000, a $50,000 increase.

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The original $90,000 was to pay management fees to Hampton Golf. Well that $90,000 is gone and more money is needed to cover the cost of running the course.

“They did pay back the management fee because they pretty much overdrew the bank account,” said Elizabethton Finance Director Deborah Kessler.

Kessler went on to say that in a conversation with Chad Odom, head professional and general manager at Elizabethton Golf Course, the golf course wants to do some projects such as renovating the carpet inside the clubhouse. According to Kessler, one of the issues managers over the golf course are facing is higher labor cost due to not being able to use trustees from the Carter County Correctional Facility.

“They have pretty much doubled the staff from what we had before,” said Kessler.

Elizabethton City councilman Wes Fraizer voiced his opinion on how the hiring was being done at the golf course.

“We are laying off people down there on the ground crew but then we are adding people in the pro shop,” said Fraizer, who was the only councilmember that voted “no” in allowing Hampton Golf to take over management of the EMGC. “It just doesn’t make sense to me. We need the grounds people more than anything.

Frazier also said that he had fielded phone calls from individuals saying that “something needs to be done” at the golf course. He also said one of the issues at the course was the handling of membership fees.

“We have people not even paying membership fees,” said Frazier.

Elizabethton City Mayor Curt Alexander said that council needs to have a sit down with Hampton Golf regional manager, Jamie Shelby, to get the details on what is going on at the Elizabethton Golf Course.

“We are almost a year in, and I think it is concerning,” said Alexander.

In fear that the golf courses’ budget would go into the red, the council voted unanimously, with Kim Birchfield being absent, to amend the budget and increase the courses’ appropriation $50,000. It was just a first reading on the budget amendment. It will have to be passed again at a later council meeting.

Also during Thursday’s meeting, the council passed unanimously the first reading to change city ordinances that would make it illegal for pub bars to serve beer at 11 p.m.

The council also, on first reading, voted in favor of an ordinance change that would allow microbreweries inside the city limits to produce 15,000 barrels of beer a year, which is a substantial increase from the original 7,500. Mayor Pro-tem Bill Carter was the only one to vote no on the ordinance amendment.