He will outline his proposal to the Brookings City Council Monday regarding the possible acquisition of the golf course lease, currently held by the The Claveran Group. Murdock’s proposal could involve other investors, as well.
The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 898 Elk Drive, Brookings.
Salmon Run, on South Bank Chetco River Road, is owned by the city and leased to The Claveran Group, a Brookings-based corporation. Murdock has been general manager at the course since 2001.
Since its construction 13 years ago, the golf course has never turned a profit – and The Claveran Group has only ever made one $15,000 lease payment. That was used to hire a consultant last summer who outlined trends in the industry and changes local course management could make to turn its finances around.
Murdock said he couldn’t discuss any details of his new proposal as he is still in negotiations.
“We’re talking about how things will work,” he said. “Things are still in the air.”
Any change in the lease agreement must be approved by the council.
The early days
The city delayed the first $35,000 lease payment for 10 years, until 2010, to give the fledgling course a chance to get established and for The Claveran Group to pay down its $6 million construction debt. That year, the group requested another two-year extension, which the city granted.
Last year, the city hired Jim Keegan of Golf Convergence of Denver to evaluate finances, user demand and satisfaction, water issues and advise course management about improvements it could make to make the course profitable.
Monday, the council will likely approve on second reading a new agreement with a $20,000 payment due each Feb. 1. Under the proposal, however, this year’s won’t be due until May 31, as the principal investor in The Claveran Group, Steve Muir, said he doesn’t have the funds to do so until then.
Keegan said the course needs to host 1,700 golfers each season, not the 1,000 it does today. Three holes need to be redesigned, and wild vegetation – primarily non-native blackberries – need to be trimmed back, if not eradicated.
Councilors have said in the past that the lack of lodging – or even a reason to hang around the clubhouse after a round – has hindered the course, as well.
The addition of a driving range and an improved clubhouse would be beneficial.
Another consideration is the Crook Point Golf Course halfway between Brookings and Gold Beach that received tentative approval of its master plan late last month. Touted as a destination resort, the $44 million facility will include a 9- and 18-hole golf course, a golf shop, golf lodge, spa lodge and interpretive center. It plans 175 overnight lodging units, employee housing and an equestrian center.
In 2001, Jeff Wilding, agent for John and Patricia Curry, who owned property near Salmon Run, proposed constructing The Run, an 18,000-square-foot lodge with a full-service restaurant. That project never broke ground.
This year, Murdock notified City Manager Gary Milliman it would not be able to make its lease payment, due April 1, for the 2013-2014 season.
The Claveran Group representatives could not be reached for comment regarding why they are considering changing the lease.
City councilors declined comment about the issue, but have recently discussed options to keep the valuable asset. They also wonder whether a golf course should be subsidized, as is the city pool, or if it should bring in enough income to be self-sufficient.
The course is about 3 miles up the South Bank Chetco Road and offers a “high-risk/high-reward” experience on links that stretch 6,200 yards over 18 holes. Deer, ducks, migratory geese, raccoons, wild turkeys and other woodland creatures are often spotted along its scenic corridors, and salmon swim the streams each fall en route to their spawning grounds. Periodically, golfers might see bear, cougar or elk.
The course hosts a number of popular tournaments each year: The Claveran Classic in June, a women’s tournament in August called The Silver Salmon, and the Big Hook in September, which combines golfing and salmon fishing.
Keegan noted last year that golf courses nationwide are suffering from the economic slump, with more courses having closed than opened during the past three years.
The closest other courses to Brookings are Cedar Bend in Gold Beach, and Del Norte and Kings Valley in Crescent City, all of which are nine-hole courses – and all of which have suffered losses in the past few years.