OGC and OVA: Monthly payments deemed unlikely

(Updated Aug. 9 with new comment from Tom Kendrick)

Jim Brewer

Oakmont’s board is not looking to commit Oakmont members to monthly payments to support the Oakmont Golf Club, OVA Vice President Tom Kendrick said July 8.

Board representatives and OGC leaders have been meeting to discuss concerns that while the golf club is doing OK financially now, the future is uncertain.

The board “will not be contemplating a commitment involving an amount of money per OVA member per month to support OGC for any period of time, and certainly not for five years,” Kendrick said in an email to the Oakmont News.

OGC leaders had suggested $5 monthly contributions from OVA members, perhaps for five years.

Kendrick said the golf club is working with its management company, Kemper Sports, to develop a five-year plan. “They are also planning to reach out to the OVA community for direct support through an offering of modest cost individual non-golfing memberships.

“There are several ideas being explored involving transactions, partnerships, or services that could result in OVA business dealings with OGC in the near future, but at this point none of these are far along enough for BOD consideration,” Kendrick said.

“There have been some discussions, no commitments have been made,” he said in an email to the Oakmont News.  Kendrick is leading the OVA board’s interaction with OVA. President Steve Spanier, who is an OGC member, has recused himself on the issue.

Questions about the golf club have stirred comment at public forums and in social media.

Opponents of aiding the club, many of them familiar names from yesterday’s debate over pickleball, are having none of aiding the club — at least until it provides financial and other hard data to support its contentions.

More than 30 opponents turned out at the East Rec Center on July 23 for a “fireside chat” hosted by Oakmont board member Greg Goodwin, where sentiment was unanimous that the OGC has done a downright lousy job of presenting its case.

“Personally, I wouldn’t have a problem donating to the golf course if I knew specifically what the money was going to,” Goodwin said. The OGC, he added, needs to look at long term situations, like the impact of a severe drought and new government-imposed ground water regulation.

“And to me the golf course has to really show that they are doing everything possible … and quite honestly I just don’t see that at this time,” Goodwin said.

While contrary opinions have focused on the lack of concrete proposals and financial data available for the OVA membership to see, there is also a serious disagreement about drainage. The OGC insists that the drainage, creeks and ponds on the golf course perform a service to the community requiring that OVA share in the cost of cleaning and dredging.  Opponents say it’s just the opposite:  those lakes, ponds and waterways were designed to catch rain water to irrigate the golf course and are the sole responsibility of golf club to maintain.

Above all, opponents say any proposal to give financial assistance to the golf club should be subject to a community vote. Calls for member referendums in the past — such as over the question of building new pickleball courts behind the Berger center — have been rejected based on interpretation of laws governing homeowners associations.

The OVA board has seen some of the club’s financials, but it signed a non-disclosure agreement based on the proprietary nature of the data.

Kendrick, who worked in risk management for more than three decades, said the OVA has two choices: to do something in advance to address OGC’s financial stability or deal with the consequences should the golf course fail. Disregarding a risk “doesn’t make it go away,” he said.

The bottom line seems to revolve around whether or not one views Oakmont and its golf courses as the single community it was conceived to be more than a half century ago.

Residents appeared to have settled that question in 1989 when an offer to sell the golf courses to the OVA was rejected, ultimately resulting the formation of the independent Oakmont Golf Club.

Questions about the golf club, together with a perceived lack of transparency by OVA board of directors,  are stirring comments at public forums and in social media.

So is Oakmont now a golf course community?  Resident Bruce Bon says in a social media post “the answer to this question is a simple and emphatic NO.”

“The golf courses exist within the geographical boundaries of Oakmont, but they do not have broad participation of the community. Oakmont is a senior community with golf courses as window dressing,” he wrote in a recent online opinion. “There is a community of golfers within Oakmont, comprised of about 300 OGC members, plus an unknown number of less dedicated golfers who pay greens fees whenever they play. But Oakmont has over 4,700 owners, so OGC members comprise less than 7 per cent of Oakmont owners.”