Home » Island News

Council to consider keeping Kemper

Submitted by on 1, March 2, 2010 – 6:00 am4 Comments

Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant will ask the City Council to sign off on negotiations with Kemper Sports Management to enter a long-term contract to manage the Chuck Corica Golf Complex. But golf boosters are crying foul over Kemper’s proposal to immediately shutter the Mif Albright nine-hole course and set up two new, nine-hole courses on the existing Jack Clark.

Gallant says the council should choose Kemper’s proposal over another by Bellows Golf Management, whose executives said they’d seek to maintain two, 18-hole courses at the complex and that they’d be willing to help stakeholders keep the existing Mif Albright short course open. They said they’d also be willing to allow Tom Geneakos to keep running Jim’s on the Course, while Kemper would seek to buy Geneakos out of his restaurant concession at the complex, which runs through 2011 with an option for a five-year extension.

Kemper would seek to leave the Earl Fry course in place and to split the Jack Clark course into a regulation nine-hole course and an executive Par 3 course for the short term, and to assume major renovations in the future. The company would seek to use money from the city’s golf enterprise fund to do the work.

Kemper’s proposal laid out the company’s bona fides for being able to do the long-term work, showcasing major course renovations it has managed in the past. But it did not specifically spell out when or how major renovations at Chuck Corica might be done.

Bellows, which had also offered a proposal to run the course short-term in 2008, would partner with Landscapes Unlimited in order to effect long-term upgrades (the partnership is called Landscapes Golf Group). Landscapes Unlimited has done more than 800 golf course construction and renovation projects, Bellows’ proposal says.

Golfers were angry about the proposal to close the Mif. They believed they would be given the opportunity tonight to present a plan for keeping the short course open under the direction of Alameda Junior Golf. The council had said at its February 17 meeting that it expected the Mif proposal to be discussed tonight in the context of running the entire golf complex.

“KemperSports’s proposal to permanently close the Mif Albright Par 3 golf course demonstrates their total disregard for Alameda’s junior golfers,” said Joe Van Winkle, who wrote the business plan for the nonprofit’s operation of the course.

The council chose Kemper in November 2008 to run the complex on a temporary basis while city leaders looked for a more permanent solution for operating it, contracting to pay the company $120,000 plus expenses to operate the course for a year. Kemper’s proposal is to sign a 30-year lease to run the complex.

City staff and a consultant, David Sams, selected Kemper based on the company’s experience in running municipal golf courses in California, the soundness of the Chicago-based company’s finances and the company’s ability to provide quality golf services and to make its customers happy, a staff report says. The company is also being considered because it has a strong track record for complying with the obligations of its contracts and for its ability to expand the golf complex’s market, the staff report says.

Kemper, which was founded in the 1970s, operates 85 courses, some of them considered among the best in the country. It holds 33 public agency contracts, including 10 in California, the staff report says. In addition to operating courses and managing a host of big golf events, the company has its own public relations firm.

Tempe, Ariz.-based Bellows is younger and smaller, getting its start in the 1990s and operating 26 courses, seven of which are publicly owned.

A study done by NGF Consulting recommended $11 million in upgrades for the aging complex, which the city can’t afford. City officials have maintained that the complex has been losing money, though golf boosters have disputed that claim. The staff report says that the complex’s losses have slowed since Kemper took over but have not stopped, and that its cash balance could be depleted in 36 months.

If Kemper takes over the course, the city may have to forgo much or all of the $800,000 a year it has received from the complex to pay its bills. The proposals did not lay out how much money the city would be expected to get from the company that operates the complex.

“(N)egotiations will focus on a reasonable City return on receipts, balanced with a required capital commitment by the operator,” the report says.


  • Marie Femminis says:

    I personally am not a golfer, so to me whatever the people voice on that is what it should be. I would just like to state that my mother and I would hate to see Jim’s on the Course leave. Bay Farm Island needs a breakfast/lunch type place and we have that in Jim’s!

  • Scott says:

    Great point Marie. I can’t see Kemper wanting to mess with Jim’s if anything it would probably just look nicer on the inside with them taking over.
    i am confused with the group upset with Kemper tearing down MIF Albright if they plan to build a brand new par 3 course. Seems to me it would be the best of everything: renovated courses, and management that knows what their doing. Look how well Kemper runs Harding Park golf course in San Francisco, place is first class.

  • Dave Kirwin says:


    Most people support the Mif course because it provides a good thing for kids to do, and it helps form the next generation of players for the big courses. You should look into all that the course has done for the community – such as; if a kid could not afford clubs, they would be provided for him – by volunteers cutting down donated clubs for the kids, they used to also have free series of lessons for kids, and until age 18 a round only cost $1.

    The only option Kemper has offered for continuing a Par 3 means closing one of the 18-hole courses, so the Chuck Corica Golf Complex would go from a 45 hole complex to a 27 hole golf complex.

    Also, many feel sure and others feel certain that the only reason closing Mif is being considered is to get that land into Ron Cowan’s possession and to allow him to build more houses there. You may not understand how many times this developer has had his way with this City’s Management, who seem to give him whatever he wants at bargain prices almost any time he wants. We should struggle to preserve this course for our community, and a nonprofit organization would be excellent as it would involve our citizens.

    Mif is very important to many of Alameda’s youth. While it does not serve all of them, for those it does serve, it is a very positive benefit in many ways. The low cost, the physical exercise too many students are lacking, the exercising of strategic thinking, the exercise of dealing with pressure and stress of the game while focusing on attempting your best performance, even the exercise of expressing dignity and grace in both victory and defeat.

    The city should do more to advertise this opportunity for our kids – not only does it provide an activity mostly designed for kids from childhood to young adults with the extreme enticement of low cost (which opens the availability to all those who most need positive alternatives to the socially difficult choice of “just hanging out”) there was also a group of volunteers which accepted donated clubs, balls, bags, complete outfits. When a kid came in who could not afford clubs to start, they would provide them with some. They cut down a lot of donated clubs to youth sizes, and most of Mif memberships (probably) are held by golfers who grew up playing here because it was so easy.
    Keep golf easy in Alameda, keep Mif open.

  • Scott says:

    Dave I have kids and want to give them the opportunity to play golf right along every other kid who wants to play golf. The way I read it it sounded like they were going to tear up the jack clark course and make it a nine hole course and build a par 3 course for children, beginners, and seniors. So it would be a total of 36 holes. Is this not the case yes or no? I had not heard anything about Kemper cutting a deal with Ron Cowan.
    Myself as well as thousands of golfers in the bay area young and old are tired of the poor conditions at the course. Tired of the course being run into the ground because management can not handle it. We want to see a first run golf facility that will benefit kids, adults, and seniors. We want to see a course that gives discounts to children and alameda residents and charges more to people that don’t live in Alameda or the bay area for that matter. Harding Park Golf course in San Francisco charges residents $60 while charging tourists $150. That is how you make money and keep your local residents happy. Kemper is involved witht he first tee program that benefits children and can’t see them getting rid of the $1 program for the par 3.

Leave a comment!

Add your comment below, or trackback from your own site. You can also subscribe to these comments via RSS.

Be nice. Keep it clean. Stay on topic. No spam.

You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This is a Gravatar-enabled weblog. To get your own globally-recognized-avatar, please register at Gravatar.