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1/2/2013 11:53:00 AM
'Missed opportunities' at Elephant Rocks prompt course manager dismissal
Elephant Rocks Golf Course. Photo/WGCN
Elephant Rocks Golf Course. Photo/WGCN
Marissa Freireich
Reporter

WILLIAMS, Ariz. - Several "missed opportunities" led to the decision to terminate the management contract at Elephant Rocks Golf Course, said City Manager Brandon Buchanan.

These missed opportunities included failing to maximize revenue through accommodating people's food and beverage and event needs. Buchanan said they resulted in the golf course "not living up to its potential."

The Williams City Council voted to terminate Brent Redman's contract at the Dec. 13 regular meeting.

Buchanan said that through personal observations and talking to community members, he discovered some problems with management at the course regarding maximizing golfer turnout and revenue.

"I'll admit I'm not a golfer but I do understand running a business," he said.

Buchanan also said marketing and promotion efforts within Williams and Arizona were lackluster and communication with those interested in using the course was minimal.

"That effort wasn't getting put in, in my opinion," Buchanan said.

Buchanan discussed his concerns with Redman at the start of the season in February or March of 2012. He said that while Redman addressed most of the concerns at the time, "the ones that were addressed crept back up throughout the season."

Because the issues persisted, Buchanan brought up the matter with council members.

"(The golf course) is a business and it is there to make money, so any of those lost revenue opportunities are a problem for us," Buchanan said, adding that the city will need that revenue in the future to replace old golf course equipment.

Buchanan knows what he will be looking for in a new manager.

"I hope to see the parts of the business that have been neglected over the past few years be emphasized," he said.

Buchanan added he hopes to see more events, such as weddings and golf tournaments. He would also like an expanded food and beverage service, to possibly include dinner, so non-golfers could enjoy the scenery at the course.

"We have an amazingly beautiful setting up there at the club house," he said.

Buchanan said that he, along with the city council, golf committee and city staff involved with the golf course will work together to find new management although they have not decided how they will conduct the search.

"We really need a solution that works for everybody," he said.




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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Article comment by: Bobby Patricca

"why not", why don't you come out from hiding behind that alias of yours and use your real name like the rest of the adults in the room who can debate differing opinions in a civilized way and not resort to childish name-calling and mocking?

Posted: Saturday, January 19, 2013
Article comment by: why not

Since the golf course is now in the restaurant business (why did they build a kitchen anway?), they should build a new hotel there too.
Down on the corner, they should build a gas station/convience market also.
They should have a band every weekend and party down out there.
Who really cares about golf anyway, don't let the golf get in the way of making money for the city pool!
I just want to go out there and eat and drink anyway. Can't stand the places in town.
I want to play frisby golf, I don't care if it messes up the $100,000 greens are not, Super slide down the 18th fairway heck yeah!!
Super Bowl Party???


Posted: Friday, January 18, 2013
Article comment by: William Henning

The mission of the Golf Course General Manager is to obtain 100% effort from his employees, to obtain a 110% occupancy rate on his golf course, and to have an event scheduled in his dinning room every night. If there is an outdoor wedding venue, it should be booked solid, from before the course opens for play in the spring, until well after it closes in the winter. (If there is no outdoor venue, one should be built immediately.)

One commentor asked the question, "Does Williams want a golf course GM, or does it want a party planner?" The course GM will, indeed, be a party planner. He will be a concierge, a salesman, a more than passable golfer, and a representative of the City of Williams at innumerable social functions. He needs to be skilled in horticulture, golf cart maintenance, computer repair, and able to say "Welcome to Elephant Rocks" in several different languages. The course GM wears dozens of hats during the course of his 16 hour day.

I can't speak to why the previous GM was excused, but the program is simple enough...get a goal from the city manager and achieve it. As I stated earlier, it is, after all, a mission.


Posted: Tuesday, January 8, 2013
Article comment by: Bobby Patricca

"oh no", that is the problem Williams has in the winter, nobody is here! When I can go stand in the middle of Route 66 and shoot a rocket from one end of town to the other and not hit anybody, you know our town is "dead" for the winter. Frisbee Golf is simply something I've had a couple people mention to me before. Maybe it's doable, maybe not. Maybe we can find a way to let sleds and tubes slide down some of the fairways and not damage the course. People in Flagstaff are always complaining about the traffic from people coming to play in the snow, why not try to find a way to bring those people to Williams? There is good access to the golf course and good parking up there. I'm not a golfer, nor a landscaper, but if there's a way to let people sled down the 17th and 18th fairway during the winter without harming the ground underneath, that's an idea to get people out there. I'm just thinking out loud here. I think that is what Brandon and the City Council are thinking also, find ways for that course to bring people to Williams and get some more revenue during what is otherwise a very slow time of year. Yes, you're right, there are plenty of things happening up there during golf season. What we need are things during the "slow" time to get us through the winter. If you've got ideas yourself, I'm all ears. I just want to see a push to try new things and add to our town, not just settle for what we've got right now as "good enough".

"More changes", I don't see a lot of what Brandon is doing outside of my duty as one of several members of the Parks and Recreation Commission, but I definitely urge you to start attending City Council meetings, and also budget meetings which will be coming up this spring. I do know that he has been cutting expenses and streamlining services throughout the City. Nearly every City Council meeting I hear one thing or another from Brandon that saves our town money. Perhaps have a chat with him, or any of the City Council members and see what he's been doing. He's a great asset to have in Williams.


Posted: Monday, January 7, 2013
Article comment by: Works At night

Succinct and verbose? What the heck does that mean. I do know that the Williams golf course is a very beautiful course. So much so that it could televise all over the world. it could be called the Elephant Rocks PRO TOUR or The Grand Canyon Pro Golf Tour. It could be televised all over the world.
Call Trump and some of the wealthiest men to sponsor it. It's worth a try. Mayor Moore it's your town! Think big. Everyone knows the Grand Canyon.


Posted: Saturday, January 5, 2013
Article comment by: More changes needed Again

Bobby I'm afraid that "moving the town forward" has no meaning. Please be specific to tell us how he is earning his big salary in this little town.

Posted: Friday, January 4, 2013
Article comment by: oh no mr. uninformed strikes again

Bobby:

Frisby golf ? Come on. The whole town is shut down in the winter, but you want to keep the club house open? For what? How many wedding receptions do you think there are in Williams from Nov to April? Give it a break already. Have you ever checked to see how busy the course is in "season"? It is pretty maxed out as it is.

Robert Evens. As far as the "water" is concerned, that is not up to the guys running the club house or course. It is up to the course maintenance crew which is totally different. Of course the beer cart is something that falls under course management, and should be addressed.

Sorry but the city manager is not moving Williams "forward", but simply trying to reinvent the wheel. If he was moving the city forward, he would be cutting expenses and not trying to get the city involved in the restaurant business.


Posted: Friday, January 4, 2013
Article comment by: James Foster

The number of golfers in the country peaked about the year 2000. Since then golf has not attracted the new golfers neccessary to sustain the number of golf courses available.It would be interesting to compare the rounds of golf played in 2012 at Elephant Rocks with prior years,say 2010 and 2011.This should be the most important criteria used in the management dismissal.Weddings ?

Posted: Friday, January 4, 2013
Article comment by: Robert Evans

As a full time resident of Williams I play 3-4 times per week. My golfing friends and I talked with Redman numerous times about lack of water on the course and not running the beverage cart every day.
I hope the new management will address using the beverage cart when golfer are present!


Posted: Friday, January 4, 2013
Article comment by: Bobby Patricca

I do feel that the golf course has not been marketed in the way that it should be. Where are the advertisements in the Arizona Republic "Golf" section? In various golf magazines? Unfortunately, the status quo is just not enough. Yes, the folks out there have done a great job making the facility look amazing. Sure, there haven't been any major issues which have caused major havoc. But I feel we can do much better than what we have been doing. The facilities are gorgeous, and we need to maximize that to the fullest extent possible. During the times of year when golf can't be played, I'm sure there are other events and activities that could be held that would make it more of a year-round facility. I've had the idea of "frisbee golf" or something to that effect mentioned to me numerous times. The banquet room is indeed perfect for wedding receptions and other similar events. Get more use out of the facility outside of the "traditional" season and get more revenue coming into the city. What is the course/clubhouse/banquet room used for from November through March/April? That's 5 months that the facilities are sitting dormant, not bringing anything to Williams or our economy. During the summer, I personally have thought that we should see what it would take to have a City-presented Golf Tournament that makes use of one of the major sports teams down in Phoenix. What better PR for Williams than having the Phoenix Suns or similar team do a charity golf tournament for their own charity, and having clips of it on every news broadcast in Phoenix that evening? Maybe that's something our Chamber should pursue.

As for the comment about Williams needing a new City Manager, I seriously hope that person is either joking or not aware of what Brandon has done since he came to Williams. He is very passionate about moving this town FORWARD and making things happen. I haven't agreed with him on every single viewpoint he has, but he is very motivated and wants to make Williams a much better place for many years to come. I hope we can keep Brandon as City Manager for many, many more years.


Posted: Friday, January 4, 2013
Article comment by: More Changes Needed

Since when does our city manager know anything about business? Collecting other people's money and spending it isn't exactly what we do. To suggest that the golf course needs to provide a dinner service is crazy and proves my point that the golf course management isn't the only thing that should be changed in Williams. Look at all of the food service outlets that have closed just this year in Williams. These are "real" businesses that couldn't make it and they weren't isolated from the tourist trade like the golf course. We've seen how much the police chief makes. How much does the city manager make? I find it very frustrating when government employees try and tell real businesses how to do things better. Sounds like the President. It's time we cleaned house in Williams of all the city employees and council members who don't have a clue. they're wasting our money.

Posted: Wednesday, January 2, 2013
Article comment by: what the ???

More weddings? Does the city get a cut of beer sales or something? If it does then maybe the city manager should staff it. Does he want some one to run the golf course or be a party planner? Of course the city of Williams really needs another place to have "dinner". Might as well build another hotel too. Was the golf course built to compete with the local restaurants,or was it built to provide recreation for towns people? The course is busy, do you really need more tournaments?

Sounds like Williams needs a new city manager too!!


Posted: Wednesday, January 2, 2013
Article comment by: Steve C

If the city is concerned about lost revenues, perhaps the council should look at turning over law enforcement in Williams to Coconino County. The current police chief makes $106,000.00 a year, more than our Governor, Jan Brewer. The police department currently has the highest budget in the City of Williams at 1,500,000.00 per year and recoupes less than 1% of that.



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