McFeely blog: Detroit Country Club delays Troon management decision – InForum

Marion Steward

FARGO — Detroit Country Club will remain under local management for a bit longer than its board of directors hoped.

The Detroit Lakes, Minn., golf course will hold off on hiring Troon, a national management company based in Arizona, to run its operation until at least the spring, if it decides to go that route at all.

In December, the DCC board presented a proposal to the city that would have Troon take over management of Detroit Country Club

. The 36-hole facility and clubhouse that includes a pro shop and restaurant/bar is open to the public and owned by the city of Detroit Lakes. It is operated as a 501(c)(3). Board president Sam Rufer, citing the growth of the golf course, said he was skeptical of hiring an outside firm to run things “but the more and more we dug into it … the more and more it seemed like the best option.”

But the local newspaper and website DL-Online reported this week that DCC treasurer Blake Jacobus told the Detroit Lakes city council’s finance committee that the potential management agreement with Troon will be put on hold

until they can hold a public meeting with their members to get feedback. Jacobus expects that meeting will be held sometime in the spring.

The DCC’s board of directors had hoped to hire Troon to run the facilities two golf courses and clubhouse in time for the start of the golf season in April.

In another bit of news related to DCC’s operation,

the club put out an advertisement for a restaurant manager from April-October

. If DCC was to hire Troon, it would run the restaurant/bar in the clubhouse so the board appears like it will give local management a try for the short-term.

The idea of turning over the golf courses’ management to a national firm had become a mini-kerfuffle in the lakes country city

, about 50 miles east of Fargo-Moorhead. One longtime member

wrote a letter to the editor raising questions

about the wisdom of such a move and other members voiced concerns behind the scenes.

One of the biggest concerns was Troon’s corporate management style, which longtime golfers at DCC believed would take away from the local feel of the facility.

Others opposed to a Troon takeover believed board members had ulterior motives, such as gaining access to Troon facilities in other areas of the country or pushing out longtime PGA club professional Mark Holm.

Rufer responded to criticism with a long email

and Facebook post

to members that included the following passage:

“I know a lot of you have heard a lot of rumors going around about Troon Golf. That they will come and gut the course. That they will double the prices. That they will ruin the culture and make it a corporate course. And many more. Trust me, the Board has heard all of these before and had many of the same concerns ourselves. This was part of our hundreds of hours of due diligence, and part of our extensive negotiations with Troon. I can assure you that none of this is true. Whatever rumors you may have heard about what Troon did to some course in some other part of the country is simply unfounded.”

It appears after some public push-back, the board changed its tune and is saying all the right things. Are they being sincere about hearing concerns of members and the public? That remains to be seen. But it seems if the board wanted to see if a local solution could work, it would put the Troon issue on pause for the entire summer and revisit in the fall after giving local management a try.

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