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Bobby Jones Golf Course under new management for the first time since 1926

When the city-owned Bobby Jones Golf Course reopens for play this fall, it will be banking on the expertise of Indigo Golf Partners to make it a success.

When the Bobby Jones Golf Course reopens this fall, it will be under the management of Reston, Virginia-based Indigo Golf Partners. (File photo)
When the Bobby Jones Golf Course reopens this fall, it will be under the management of Reston, Virginia-based Indigo Golf Partners. (File photo)
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For the first time since even before Bobby Jones the golfer christened it with an exhibition round of 73 in 1927, Bobby Jones, the golf course, will not be managed by the city of Sarasota.

On Monday, the City Commission unanimously approved a management contract with Indigo Sports for the under-redevelopment golf course along Fruitville Road. The five-year agreement is worth approximately $123,697 a year.

Reston, Virginia-based Indigo, which was acquired in January 2021 by Troon of Scottsdale, Arizona, will provide on-site management of the facility and use its proprietary IT and marketing platforms for operations.

Indigo will leverage Troon’s assets and experience of providing management services to more than 585 locations around the world, including 630-plus 18-hole equivalent golf courses.

Golf course workers will be Indigo Sports employees. All operating expenses and income remain with the city, paid and received by Indigo in accordance with the annual budget. The city will establish two designated bank accounts in which Indigo will deposit income and withdraw operating expenses. The city's finance department will receive a monthly and annual reports of both accounts.

Troon Vice President Joe Goodrich told commissioners on Monday the golf course should operate well in the black.

“For the operating pro forma on an annualized basis is for the asset, the cash positives are over $900,000 for a full year of operations,” Goodrich said.

Per terms of the contract, Indigo will consult on ongoing golf course renovations, oversee the grow-in of the course turf, prepare for reopening, and provide management services. The initial five-year agreement cost is $618,484. The contract may be renewed upon mutual agreement for two two-year periods.

Commissioner Hagen Brody said he was concerned that Indigo, as a for-profit company, could be in a position to cut corners to enhance its bottom line. Goodrich responded that the work the company has done so far, without being under contract, demonstrates its commitment to the success of the golf course.

“We have more to lose as an organization from a profit standpoint if we don't do a good job,” Goodrich said. ”If for some reason the city of Sarasota is not happy with us, it's going to impact our business much more than anything. … Our goal is to do a good job for our clients. We've been working for the last two months without being paid, sitting in on agronomic meetings and meetings with the architects to help them with clubhouse design with no incentive whatsoever.”

Shuttered for more than two years, the Bobby Jones Golf Course is expected to reopen in spring 2023 as the original 18-hole Donald Ross design. The facility had been expanded to 45 holes over the years, incorporating nine of the original holes in each of the two courses. The new facility will include a nine-hole “adjustable” par-3 course. The remainder of the property — 153 of the 261 acres — will be redeveloped as as a public park and wetlands conservation area.

Funded by up to $20 million in city bonds, the entire project, including the golf course, park and wetlands work, is projected to cost $18.8 million. Budgeted for $12.5 million, the golf course redesign is overseen by Richard Mandell Golf Architecture of Pinehurst, North Carolina. 


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