Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

In Dunedin's golf saga, city finally at 19th hole

DUNEDIN — Today's City Commission meeting could mark the last step of leasing negotiations with the Dunedin Country Club — and some couldn't be happier.

Commissioners and residents say they're ready to move on from an "embarrassing" two years of arguments and an undercurrent of bad blood.

The questions are simple, they say: Who should manage the country club, and what should the country club owe? The history, however, has been anything but.

Here's an overview:

The club: The Dunedin Isles Country Club opened in 1927 with a par-72 golf course designed by famed architect Donald Ross. The Professional Golfers Association headquartered there in the 1940s and '50s, hosting more than a decade of national championships.

The city owns the course; a private nonprofit organization run by a board of directors owns the clubhouse land and leases the course from the city. Fewer than 200 residents are members of the semi-private club, paying thousands a year in dues. Non-members can play for a fee, though some have complained of member snootiness.

The problem: A sudden drop in membership in 2006 motivated the club to ask for concessions on its lease, which demanded 5 percent of yearly revenue. The city began to look for management alternatives as the club's rent payments fell behind.

A National Golf Foundation consultant, hired to give the city a guide, recommended the club hire a professional manager but continue as a nonprofit. The city, he said, should "not expect significant revenues."

A group of residents and former club members said easing the club's financial obligation would be unfair to other city facilities and Dunedin taxpayers.

The solutions: The city staff asked golf businesses to submit proposals on how they would run the club. Billy Casper Golf, a nationwide golf management firm, responded with a deal to contribute nearly $800,000 in rent and capital improvements within three years.

The club responded as well, paying the city nearly $200,000 in due rent.

With the requirements met, the city said the club could manage the course for the 13-year duration of its lease.

But the city and club negotiated a revised agreement that would change financial and management details of the current lease.

The agreement: The proposed new agreement states the club could manage for 20 more years, discussing the lease with the city every five years.

Five percent of golf revenue would be split toward property improvements and the salary of a manager, who would oversee day-to-day operations.

A fifth of annual golf revenue over $1.8 million, and a tenth of non-golf revenue over $900,000, would be paid to the city.

The agreement also stipulates more marketing and friendliness toward non-members, the addition of a city employee onto its board and a name change to the Dunedin Golf Club.

Commissioners indicated they would approve the new agreement.

Also on the agenda: About 3 acres of club-owned land may be sold to the city for about $250,000, below market value, for stormwater construction in the oft-flooded Dunedin Isles subdivision.

The future: The city, working with the club and Billy Casper Golf, hopes to organize a self-sustaining "golf campus" that would consolidate the club and the public St. Andrews Links next door.

Course boundaries could be redrawn.

Billy Casper Golf has maintained interest in operating the less-profitable Links; the city may propose a deal with the firm next year.

Drew Harwell can be reached at or (727) 445-4170.

Fast facts

What's next

The Dunedin City Commission will meet to consider a new lease agreement with Dunedin Country Club.

When: 6:30 p.m. today.

Where: City Hall chambers, 542 Main St., Dunedin.

In Dunedin's golf saga, city finally at 19th hole 11/18/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 18, 2009 9:46pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Police: Uber driver's gun discharges during fight at Adventure Island in Tampa

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — An Uber driver's gun went off Sunday at Adventure Island during a fight between the driver and two passengers.

  2. Baker cautious on Pride politics


    Rick and Joyce Baker strode down Central Avenue Sunday amid rainbow flags, corporate booths, and blaring music of the St. Pete Pride Festival.

    St. Petersburg mayoral candidate Rick Baker chats Sunday with people at the St. Pete Pride Festival. As mayor, Baker did not sign a Pride parade proclamation, but now he says he would.
  3. Rays' bullpen stars lit up in loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Saturday it was the soft underbelly of the bullpen that let one get away from the Rays, incurring the wrath of the team's faithful followers, who wondered why the high-leverage guys weren't pitching.

    Rays closer Alex Colome, coming in with the score tied in the ninth, allows three runs in his second straight poor outing.
  4. Lightning among early suitors for defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said he planned to explore free agency for potential needs, which include bolstering his blue line and adding a wing or two.

    Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who can be a free agent Saturday, counts the Lightning among his early suitors.
  5. Senate leaders try to appease members as support for health bill slips


    WASHINGTON — Senate Republican leaders scrambled Sunday to rally support for their health care bill, even as opposition continued to build outside Congress and two Republican senators questioned whether the bill would be approved this week.

    Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill on Thursday, is one of the five Republican senators who announced they cannot support the health care bill as drafted.