The status of the Devine Golf Course continued to be a hot-button issue for residents at the Devine City Council meeting held on Tuesday, June 16.
The agenda called for discussion about financial reporting required under the 60-month agreement that Council entered into with SG Golf Management for day-to-day operations of the City-owned golf course, but the matter was not an action item.
Mayoral candidate Angela Pichardo raised concerns about the agreement, which went into effect on December 15, 2019, and calls for the City to pay SG Golf $32,536 per month for six months, or until a turnkey renovation of the course’s clubhouse is completed.
Renovation on the clubhouse has yet to begin.
“Now we’re almost already at six months, and there’s documentation that was required by what was input in this contract,” Pichardo said. “The City did not ask for the contract, the citizens did not ask for the contract. That was in his contract that was submitted by SG Management, and it’s just trying to hold that person accountable for what’s in the contract.”
Pichardo also said that the golf course was more than just an issue for residents of District 5, where the course is located.
“Not only do we have District 5…we have District 1 and District 2, and District 3, and District 4,” Pichardo said. “Those individuals deserve to be heard as well, and so I’m here to do that.”
District 3 Councilman David Espinosa reminded those in attendance that the Council is responsible for financial decisions and upholding the duties and responsibilities of the office.
“All of us sitting here at this table have a responsibility to make sure that all the terms of the agreement are followed by both parties,” Espinosa said. “We, the City, need to make sure that we continue to give SG Golf their monthly checks until we complete the clubhouse.”
Council voted to turn over daily operations of the golf course to Scott and Shirl Grego of SG Golf Management in a split vote during a Special meeting on November 21, 2019.
Mayor Cory Thompson sided with District 5 Councilwoman Debra Randall and then-District 4 Councilwoman Jennifer Schott and cast the tiebreaking vote to approve the agreement over the objections of Espinosa and District 2 Councilman Steve Lopez.
Espinosa said the City must be able to account for money, including SG Golf’s, for auditing purposes.
“I don’t mean to hurt anybody or disrespect anybody, I just want us to get back on track,” Espinosa said. “There’s some faults on your side, there’s some faults on our side. Let’s get together, let’s iron this out, and let’s get back on track and make it work.”
Scott Grego said that SG Golf has been properly turning over its monthly expenses.
“Last month, of the $32,000 that we received, we spent $76,000 in the month of May,” Grego said. “So the $32,000 that we are receiving is getting spent.”
Grego said the only report that hasn’t been turned in is Form 940, which their CPA said was for 2019 employment.
“We had no employees in 2019,” Grego said. “That is the only reason we have not submitted over that report because we did not have employees in 2019.”
Laura Sinclair, a resident of Jack Nicklaus Drive, said that conditions on the golf course continue to improve, and that membership has gone up.
“The Bust’N’Burn Tournament raised $5,000 for scholarships for young people,” Sinclair said. “The Lions Club fundraiser is scheduled for July, and all that money goes back into the community.
Sinclair said that participation in weekly scrambles has been good, and that the course will be part of a rotating golf camp for kids in July.
“The enthusiasm that Scott and his family have brought to this golf climate and the golf course is really paying off,” Sinclair said. “I would say that your decision to give SG Golf Management the opportunity to run this course has been the best decision for both you and for us.”
Juan Zamora said that Council made a hefty financial decision for the community in spending over a million dollars on the course.
“This golf course is not a major employer of the city that provides many employment opportunities,” Zamora said. “So this was an investment in parks and rec, right? There’s other needs the City has. We have had water issues that the City has passed on those rates to the community. We have City road issues. Our dumpster rates just went up. So there have been many things that have been passed on to the community.”
Linda Kreinhop agreed that City streets need to be improved, but said that in years past, the course drew golfers from out of town.
“When they come to our town, not only do they play golf, they go to our restaurants, they’ll go to our stores to buy whatever they need that they’re going to use while they’re here,” Kreinhop said. “We need a golf course, we need a pool, we need the roads. We need people to move into this town, whether they’re golfers or not. We need more of a tax base, period.”
Former Devine Golf Association Board member Jeff Wisenbaker agreed, and praised the Gregos’ management.
“They’re nice. They’re hospitable. They answer all your questions. They go beyond,” Wisenbaker said. “They’ve done some things that they put together that none of us ever had that idea. So I don’t know what better you’re looking for, and as a longtime part of this golf course, I don’t think you’re going to do any better right now. And I think they need more time, and I just hope y’all will work together.”
By Marly Davis