The Nantucket Land Bank will convene for a special meeting tomorrow with one agenda item only: golf tee times.
While it may seem strange for the Land Bank to devote an entire meeting to such a topic, the discovery that its popular and publicly-owned Miacomet Golf Course has been providing advance, preferential tee times to a small group of people has roiled many in the community.
Following Nantucket Current’s reporting on the issue last Saturday, the Land Bank and its elected commissioners have been deluged by calls from golfers and community members about the situation. The comments on Nantucket Current’s Instagram post about the story show how passionate the issue is for some.
In the days since we disclosed the list of people who control the reserved, preferential tee times at Miacomet, one of the family members of a name that appears on that shared her perspective on the situation.
“If you pull back the curtain on some of the names on that list, you’ll see that these are some of the charter members of the original Miacomet Golf Club,” said Debbie Dilworth, who with her husband were among those several hundred charter members of the club who are listed on the deed of sale to the Land Bank in 2003.
“It’s Nantucket guys, and they’re making tee times available to builders, painters, plumbers – the people who work all week. People are saying this is elitist, but really I don’t think that’s fair. They are year round residents”
While Dilworth is correct that some of those names on the list include original charter members who are year-round residents, there are others who are not, as well as the Westmoor Club.
Land Bank Commission Chair Neil Paterson and Director Jesse Bell said last week that it’s simply a matter of fairness and equity, especially given the fact that Miacomet Golf is owned by the Land Bank and thus a public course. But even that designation has come under scrutiny by some given the fact that Miacomet sells memberships and has become one of the most expensive golf courses in the state.
“It’s public, yes, and it’s absolutely beautiful, but it’s not affordable,” Dilworth said. “The Land Bank kind of converted it into a luxury golf club.”
Al Costa, the general manager of Miacomet Golf who owns the management company the Land Bank hires to operate the course, is also among the charter members. His contract with the Land Bank to run Miacomet is up at the end of the year.
Over the weekend, Costa submitted a written response to the Land Bank regarding the preferential tee time issue. “There are groups who have played together for many years, some even span across decades,” Costa said. “The group leaders’ contact information is posted in the Golf Shop, so if there is someone interested in playing, they can reach out to join. They are provided with a list of rules and etiquette that they must adhere to in order to keep their groups. These groups circulate over 180 players, through their 33 weekly foursomes. The players in this group are almost entirely made up of Nantucket homeowners and include locals and longtime summer and year-round residents. These groups allow Nantucket residents to get their groups out during the busiest time of the year (July-September) when getting back-to-back tee times would be impossible. They truly only matter for those three months out of the year, during the other months they wouldn’t need to have advanced bookings because they would not have trouble getting back-to-back tee times.”
While Costa disagreed with Bell’s recommendation to discontinue the preferential tee times, he said he would support the decision of the commission. “Elimination will not solve the problem and may make it worse but we understand the perceived unfairness,” Costa said.