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Communications Director
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UNION COUNTY---As another step in its golf operations turnaround plan, the County of Union today announced it has selected KemperSports, one of the nation’s leading golf management companies, to manage all golf services, except maintenance services, at its golf courses at Galloping Hill in Kenilworth and Ash Brook in Scotch Plains.

The County has authorized the execution of a five-year contract to KemperSports, with the goal of managing and enhancing its clubhouse services (including food and beverage), providing golf programming, community outreach, sales and marketing, merchandising, while improving profits and providing fiscal control.

Overall, the goal is to provide the public with an affordable, enjoyable golf experience from tee-time at the course to leisure time in the clubhouse with modernized amenities, while increasing attendance, and improving the County’s fiscal bottom line, Union County Freeholder Chairman Alexander Mirabella said.

“We chose KemperSports because of the company’s outstanding record of enhancing clubhouse facilities, increasing community outreach, and developing golf programs,” Mirabella said. “They have a national reputation for providing outstanding customer service, and excellent financial management with the goal of achieving long-term success.”

The Northbrook, Illinois-based KemperSports operates and manages golf facilities as well as athletic clubs, lodging venues and major sporting events, including nationally ranked courses and tournament venues, including Chambers Bay-a County-owned Course--in Washington State, host of the 2010 U.S. Amateur and the 2015 U.S. Open. Another KemperSports managed property, Harding Park (owned by the City of San Francisco) will host the 2009 Presidents Cup.

“We are excited at the opportunity to partner with Union County in developing both Galloping Hill and Ash Brook into premier courses,” said Steve Skinner, CEO of KemperSports. “We are pleased to start our relationship with Union County and look forward to delivering area golfers an enhanced experience.”

The Galloping Hill golf facility contains a 27-hole course, 18-hole championship course, and a newly revamped nine-hole executive course. The course opened in 1927. A driving range and learning center is currently under construction. The Ash Brook facility opened in 1953 and has an 18-hole course as well as a nine-hole pitch and putt. It also contains a clubhouse and snack bar.

In his executive budget letter to the Board of Chosen Freeholders in January, County Manager George W. Devanney announced the County would seek a “public-private” partnership with a golf management company with the objective of attaining profitability at both courses.

At the time, Devanney had noted the County’s three golf courses were operating at 50 percent capacity, while operational costs are running as if they were at 100 percent.

Overall, the County’s golf courses incurred an operational loss of $690,000 in 2008. However, this was a $500,000 revenue improvement over 2007. This improvement was due in part to operational efficiencies and an increase in fees. The County Manager and Freeholder Board embarked on a number of steps that could complete the return to profitability, which included the closure of one course at Oak Ridge in Clark, and the elimination of positions.

In addition, the County began the construction of a $2.3 million driving range and learning center at Galloping Hill. The County’s market studies have shown there is a lack of driving range facilities in the region. Such an attraction will bring a wider audience to golf at Galloping Hill, which also enjoys an outstanding location near regional transportation. The facility, which is expected to be completed by the end of the Summer, could generate as much as $600,000 in annual revenues. KemperSports will assist with the promotion, marketing of this new facility.

As part of its final step in its golf operations turnaround plan, the County administered Request for Proposals (RFPs) for golf course management and operational services for its golf courses.

A Blue Ribbon Review Committee was assembled by County Manager Devanney to review the proposals and make a recommendation. The committee included representatives of the County, Special Counsel to the County, and private sector representatives with backgrounds in golf course management, who evaluated the proposals and determined the proposal submitted by KemperSports was complete and responsive to the specifications, meeting the requirements for the qualifications and experience of the vendor and satisfactorily complying with the mandatory document submission requirements of the specifications.

Its members included: Kevin Vitale, General Manager/COO, Baltusrol Golf Club (Baltusrol has hosted 15 USGA-sponsored tournaments and one PGA tournament); John Sumas, a member of the Board of Trustees and the Treasurer for the Suburban Golf Club in Union, General Counsel, Wakefern Corporation; Joseph Tato, member, Baltusrol Golf Club; President, Fairmount Country Club; Partner, Dewey & LeBoeuf; Al Faella, Union County Director of Parks and Community Renewal; Matt Di Rado, Assistant County Counsel; Michael Yuska, Director of the Division of Purchasing, and Wayne Hasenbalg; Special Counsel, DeCotiis, FitzPatrick, Cole & Wisler, LLP.

Under the provisions of the agreement, KemperSports will receive a management fee of $421,200 spread over five years, and will eligible to collect an incentive fee of 5% of net profit, commencing in the second year and remaining in effect for the remainder of the five year contract term. The County is committed to increased productivity and maximizing revenue potential. The incentive fee provides a mechanism for the County and KemperSports to share in the distribution of proceeds if golf operations begin to operate at profitable levels.  The incentive fee, in brief, does not kick in until the courses show profit.

“KemperSports has satisfied the financial, technical and management requirements of our request,” said Al Faella, the Director of Parks and Community Renewal. “They certainly have the experience and the resources needed to do the job.”

A number of KemperSports golf courses have been cited among the nation’s—and in some instances the world’s-- leading courses. The company has also been cited for its environmental practices, particularly through its “Green to a Tee” initiative which encompasses environmentally focused initiatives within several core areas of facility operations, including golf maintenance, habitat management, water conservation, energy usage, recycling, “green” vendor utilization and staff education and training. For more information, please go to