Hi everyone and welcome to another edition of Talkin’ With Tony V. This is going to be a much more involved post than we’ve had in the past - so fair warning, this is a lot of info.
Our first of several topics today ...
Due to about 3 months of record setting Rain (we actually had one stretch of 37 days where only 6 days it didn’t rain) mixed in with the recent INTENSE Heat, we’ve lost a significant number of revenue-producing days. From one extreme to the other, it has literally caused the entire industry and courses nearby to really struggle. I’ve truly not seen anything like it. In fact, it’s been one of the most difficult seasons to keep up with health of grass I’ve ever witnessed.
That record rainfall was the absolute worst thing for grass health going into the heat of summer. As a result, our roots ended up half the length needed, which causes drying out. Typically I like to starve roots early in the year so that they’ll search and grow longer trying to find moisture. This encourages length and growth (the longer the roots, the longer grass will stay green/healthy in the heat of summer). INSTEAD having experienced so much rainfall, the length of the roots were stunted. This causes grass to dry out quicker.
Overall, the course is in really good shape. So - I try to keep the positives in mind while fighting the good fight. The improvements out on the course is due in large part to the brand new irrigation system we had installed in 2018. That was one of the most significant investments we made last year on the course; so it’s great to see it paying big dividends for us on the Front 9. We do have just a few problem spots out on the Front 9 - one of them being 4 green. Due to getting over an inch of rain (which acts like a magnifying glass to the grass) followed by 92 degree heat 30 minutes later, the course now has the problem spots. Because of that, we immediately brought out fans to try and keep the greens free of any precipitation and cool them off. The fans have helped bring those greens back.
Speaking of the fans: We ask that you please not turn them off (or the blowers) despite the noise they create. Doing so could cause irreparable harm within 48 hours. We hate to inconvenience our neighbors and guests but, please, understand our situation and the need for them.
One final note on Front 9 irrigation, I forgot to mention that like with a number of unexpected, unpredictable things here at The Pointe, we had a crazy hiccup occur a few weeks back. One of the local power companies on site to do work for a new bubbler and fountain at Number 1 pond, actually snipped the electrical cabling that runs that new irrigation system. As a result, that caused a power outage of the entire system; The outage lasted for 5 days before it was discovered. If it isn't one thing, it's another (am I right?) - BUT once we discovered the issue, we had it fixed in time to bring back grass that was beginning to weaken and fade.
Once the new irrigation system on Front 9 was back online, it allowed us to spend more focused attention on the watering for the back portion of the course. Our Back 9 currently sits with no computerized irrigation system - so we're going old school with manually watering the holes as frequently as we can; That part of the grounds has been a very big challenge for me and the guys. A majority of heads haven’t been properly used in over 15 years, causing some of them to bust and break when we try to utilize them.
Should you see me out on the course late at night or into the early morning, I’m typically watering, or repairing busted sprinkler heads/pipes (ya never know when it’s going to happen). When that does occur, our goal is to fix them quickly in order to get the areas of need completely watered. Obviously that is crucial. Currently I’m working those late night shifts until I can train someone properly.
Another area of concern for us on the back stretch are Holes 11 and 12. Currently both holes are sharing just 1 antique irrigation head. That head is needed to rotate amongst all the sprinklers on both of the holes. In essence, that one head fits only those two specific holes as the irrigation currently is constructed; As a result, Both 11 & 12 are without adequate water amounts currently and thus you'll notice the dry status or 'brown' state of both holes (not nearly as picturesque as the rest of course).
Now, back to those pumps we mentioned at Lake Monroe ….
PLEASE DO NOT TURN OFF THE LAKE MONROE PUMPS!!
These are crucial to the survival of our golf course. Especially so with the elements we've battled all summer and mentioned previously.
We have two (2) pumps presently operating at Lake Monroe and they MUST be running simultaneously; if a guest or resident takes it upon themselves to turn off one pump (which feeds the second) - that pump will burn up. In fact, we had that happen last year. Someone (a non-employee) walked to the pumps and manually switched them off. We believe it was done because of the noise created when they operate.
I understand the frustrations with noise, however it’s a necessary 'evil' in order for the course to survive; That seemingly harmless action actually cost the business several thousands of dollars to repair the pump. So, if you live in or near one of the villages close to the pumps and see someone tinkering or manipulating the settings, please let us know as soon as possible. Due to the sound those pumps create, I will run them only through the daytime when needed. And, up until/no later than 9 o’clock (unless we have an emergency) as a courtesy to residents that live nearby. I understand your frustrations with the sound and am trying to work, best I can, to accommodate.
A final golf course related grounds note to share: Maintenance has been extremely busy considering the sporadic conditions that we’ve been dealt this season, and a lack of bodies on our maintenance crew hasn’t helped. Staffing for manual labor has been a challenge thus far; for the last few weeks we operated with just 3 full time and 1 part time person on the maintenance staff. Ideally I would like a staff of about 8 people full time. I look forward to having a full maintenance staff, which would relieve me from being out on the course as much as I have been lately. Due to the aforementioned lack of staffing, we have longer grass than I would prefer. That should give you an idea of how shorthanded we are currently. We are trying like crazy to hire more help and if you know anyone please don’t hesitate to send them to me for an interview.
The good news however, when weather has permitted, we’re seeing very steady play and have been hosting as many outings and events as possible, like the Crane outing on Wednesday, which saw nearly 100 golfers come play The Pointe.
Another outing we had recently was our 1st member/member tourney this past weekend. We also enjoyed another round of Night Golf this past Friday. Unfortunately, the Member/Member Event was limited to 18 holes instead of the 27 we’d planned, due to yet another extreme heat index. Because of the heat, I changed the format to include a 6 hole scramble, 6 hole best ball and 6 hole alternate shot. After scored were tabulated and as a result of the 3 hole playoff, the following golfers were our winners: Jerry Pajac & Gary LeBlanc!
Upcoming golf events on the calendar include The 2019 Club Championship: set to be held on Aug 10th and 11th. Then on Aug 24th, we will host the 2019 Member/Guest event. That is always one of the most important events a course can host as it’s your chance to show off Eagle Pointe and ‘sell’ the facility, which in turn, could lead to future memberships and revenue for us.
Now to some news about the Clubhouse itself: We are currently working on establishing a new phone system upgrade where you can call the Clubhouse and then choose which part of the building you need to communicate with. Should you call and get a prompt, you can press (5) for Bar/Restaurant and (6) for the Pro Shop. We have switched to having a dedicated person on our phones each night, rather than relying on a bartender or Pro Shop worker to do so. This has improved our take-out numbers significantly. We are simply trying to streamline the communication processes for both sides of the building and help us with efficiency for you, the client.
We are currently hiring additional staff to our Bar & Restaurant team as we continue to march through the summer season; we’ve been able to build a solid foundation of hard working and dedicated people who’ve done everything we’ve asked. They’ve truly gone above and beyond. This first year of business has been trying and challenging; We’ve had to jump more hurdles than we could have possibly imagined - including a significant turnover rate. However that said, the people that we’ve leaned on have been great and we are glad they’re on board and stuck with us. The challenges have been many but we continue to work hard and get better. We have added more employees and more employees equals quicker food times and better service.
Another addition to the Food & Beverage side was the introduction of the ‘Concert Menu’ which has allowed the kitchen a select number of items to focus on when large crowds arrive in a very short amount of time (like our Friday evenings). Ticket times on those nights have dropped considerably, to an average of 15-20 mins, which is significantly better than what we were experiencing in the beginning of the summer season. Matt has been instrumental in making changes that are beginning to really create some very profitable results for us.
Now for a Fitness Center & Air Conditioning update: after we’d gotten several estimates on new HVAC units to service the golf shop AND our FC, we decided to replace the old one with a brand-new 7.5 ton unit.
Our thought process was simply, this would fix the heat situation in the new FC. After a few days with the new unit rolling, the heat was still permeating in there. We were stumped and severely frustrated. So, we called back our HVAC folks, and low and behold, the Fitness Room had a unit autonomous of the rest of the building. One room - a separate HVAC. Back to square one
Or so we thought, because our HVAC guys worked diligently over the last several days and thankfully(knock on wood) - we have the air conditioning working currently and workouts can now be far more tolerable, temperature wise.
Okay, so ... The 1 trillion dollar question around here, 'How's the Swimming Pool coming along?' and here's the best update I can give:
It still isn't open or ready, yet.
Unfortunately once the initial work was done to the patio (reseal and repainted) and the pool (paint and reseal) as well as the outdoor retaining wall, a significant sized leak was discovered and detected. The leak is in the return piping to the pump room and couldn’t have been discovered until the pool was filled initially for its first round of chemicals. I’ve been asked several times why we didn’t locate the leak before the pool got filled up; we had to seal the bottom of the pool first, then fill it with water high enough to reach return pipes to do a pressure test on them. Once that was complete, we found the initial leaks. A large portion of the delay was waiting on specialists to come in.
We’re trying to be as painstakingly thorough as possible to ensure there are no further, smaller leaks so as to not have to tear up the pavement and concrete that’s already been laid. A lot of the damage to pipes is due to previous ownership not winterizing the pool properly. We will be making cuts in the concrete in the hopes to repair that leak and cracked pipe with the intent of opening as soon as possible.
We understand the frustrations from residents and please know that NOBODY wants it open more than I do, but we have to make certain that every facet of the pool is working properly so as to not have to deal with these issues again down the road … I could only find two companies that specialize in this type of leak detection; we had one of which came by recommendation of a pool company. I did not anticipate the 4 weeks for the experts to get here. I spent the day with them and they had an idea of ‘about where it is’ and didn’t seem real confident but I wanted to pinpoint the area to save the Resort financially and to prevent destroying a majority of our brand new pool deck. I used my golf irrigation camera and located the big leak a few days ago I will be making cuts in the concrete tomorrow to hopefully try to repair that large leak. We do have a second leak detection company but we have been on a waiting list since June 1st . I’m glad I have a lot of hair or I would have pulled it all out by now.
Another question I’ve been getting regularly is about our Waterfall at Number 10 … if you drive by, you'll see it is currently not operational. Well, it appears the pump which runs our signature hole, has possibly burned up and is in need of significant repair or replaced entirely. We will have to place that on our long list of things that need to be repaired around here; however currently there are other, more pressing issues and we will continue to focus on those at present.
On a bright note, we are now a handful of weeks into the 2019 Lake Life Concert Series and the weekends here have been out of this world due in large part to the lineup of entertainment we've had play here! It's been beyond stellar. From Summertime Band, Fat Pockets, Howl at The Moon and Jake Dodds to Soul Stricken who just played last week. Join us this weekend as we welcome ROYALTY (Prince Tribute Band) and Blue Eyes & Grey Skies (Bluegrass/Folk).
If you add in the addition of our 'Dinner & Drinks' promotion, the excitement and energy being generated for us are simply fantastic. But more importantly - we're seeing so many smiling faces and folks back to having fun again here at Eagle Pointe. That entire lineup; all of the planning, every detail and the execution of those highly successful band nights ... none of it happens without Matt and his staff.
We've thrown an awful lot at him ... like, A LOT during these last 14 months. What he's given to us is invaluable. Not the least of which is his role as our Creative Director here at Eagle Pointe. His work with Web Design, Graphic Design, Marketing & Promotion Strategies and putting together our Concert Lineup is just as important as his position with our Bar & Restaurant. Sometimes folks forget that part of his role with us. The large numbers of people and crowds we've seen here this year on the weekends are a direct result of his tireless efforts and his infectious energy. I am so grateful that he's stepped up and accepted every challenge I've thrown at him thus far and look forward to the rest of the summer and our concerts.
Lastly, thanks once again to the tireless, non-stop efforts of our volunteer network, our Boat Storage Gate is now up, automated and operational!
If you have a boat space with us, please visit Becky for verification of your number and to get your code for entrance to the facility … she’s here M-F from 10am-5pm
I know this volume hasn’t been nearly as exciting or up lifting as previous versions. But, I wanted to fill everyone in on what’s going on around here; the good. the bad, the ugly. BUT, there is no doubt in my mind that Eagle Pointe will be a premier destination to come visit or a spectacular place to call home.
I am so very thankful to have the staff that I currently have, all of them.
There truly is not one employee I would want to see go. If you get a chance, say ‘hi’ and thank them for their efforts. Chat with them and get to know them a little. They are pretty amazing, each one of them, in their own way.
All the best