Seeking a Way Forward For Oakmont Golf

Last Updated: 03-06-19

Jackie Ryan

Promising a fast-tracked fact-finding mission, OVA directors are supporting broad community discussions to explore options for OVA’s involvement with the Oakmont Golf Club (OGC), which recently was put up for sale by a newly constituted OGC board.

“We are trying to be about solutions dealing with a near-term problem. We need to understand the parameters, even if we do nothing. Right now, we have no idea what we want to do. We need a lot more information before we reach any decisions,” Steve Spanier, OVA president, told a full room at a special board workshop March 5.

Declaring himself “all in,” Spanier resigned his Oakmont Golf Club (OGC) membership Feb. 28 to remove any conflict of interest from his active involvement in golf club discussions and votes. His resignation from the club followed a recent OGC decision to put the property up for sale with national broker Marcus & Millichap (M&M). Steve Ekovich, M&M senior vice president, has told OGC members that failed golf courses reduce home values by 20 to 30 percent for homes not on courses and by 30 to 40 percent for homes on the golf courses.

Hours before the workshop, Spanier also released a President’s Message that provided the framework for the workshop dialogue. The document outlines three possible OVA options, including purchasing the property to prevent losing control of golf course land and a potential significant drop in Oakmont real estate values. Two other options include no action by the OVA or a form of financial aid aimed at demonstrating community confidence and support for a sale to preferred buyer. While directors each said they have no preset notions about the best option, they all supported gathering information from several sources, including listening to residents’ ideas and wishes.

           Spanier’s full statement is printed in this edition and is online www.oakmontvillage.com/presidentsmessage

“I have no idea right now what we should do,” said Director Al Medeiros. “But the new OGC board is more open to working with us than ever before and I want to do what is best for all of Oakmont.”

Director Carolyn Bettencourt agreed. “I see how important the courses are for all of Oakmont. I want to hear what they have to say and save the courses somehow. We need to do that,” she said. Many residents who spoke supported a form of the options in Spanier’s document, and some offered other ideas as well.

COOPERATION WITH OGC BOARD

           The current discussions signal a turning point from previous sessions held months ago when little data about golf operations was available to be shared.

“Many of the barriers to open discussions and fact-finding with the OGC have been removed. Thanks to the honest, open approach of the new, current OGC board, we are all now free to engage in a factual, community-wide discussion of this issue,” Spanier wrote. “The situation is urgent, and it offers a sobering invitation to all of us to take this seriously.”

Two current initiatives are aimed at gathering information for the OVA Board and Oakmont members. As part of the sales process, M&M is producing a business plan for prospective buyers with expected success scenarios, including associated investments and returns. At the same time, a subcommittee of the OVA Finance Committee is also developing options for OVA to consider if no acceptable buyer emerges or if OVA decides to explore financial help, such as a bridge loan.

“The results of these two efforts will provide hard data on what it will take over what period to get the club to financial stability,” said Spanier. “The path forward includes using a very streamlined version of our new project management process to identify a broad spectrum of options, select and begin to pursue an option. If we choose to take action to help the OGC in some manner, time is of the essence. Our goal is be ready to act appropriately in a time period that would not preclude executing our chosen option.”
This data gathering will include the M&M business plan, numbers from the Finance Subcommittee, input from OVA’s Treasurer and Finance Committee on whether OVA should and, if so, how it could purchase OGC, input from legal counsel on whether and how OGC could be absorbed into our business structure, and real-time information from OGC on its financial situation.

HANDLING A TOUGH ISSUE

           Director Tom Kendrick, who has worked closely on the golf issue, said the board has examined legal issues surrounding involvement with the OGC and its properties. “Any action we might take at some point down the road will be completely examined both by the community and by our legal advisors to make sure we are not stepping out of bounds in some way. The idea that it’s not possible to do anything legally is not true. We’ve gotten several opinions over the years about that. And in particular, it was actually written into Oakmont’s founding documents by Berger when he said that the first refusal for sale of the golf course – if it ever were sold – was to the OVA, and we came close to buying it about three decades ago,” he said.

The board is encouraging emails from members at golf@oakmontvillage.com. Directors said they will not be able to respond but will consider all opinions carefully as they move forward.

“We will keep you informed all along the way,” Spanier said. “This has the potential to dwarf pickleball. Don’t let anger and fear divide our community. Let’s make this a model of how we handle hard issues.”

            (Watch a video of the workshop at www.oakmontvillage.com/videos)