Ocean View Golf clubhouse closure shrouded in mystery
Secrecy surrounds the closure of a government concession at a public golf course that has now lasted several weeks.
Members say that the closure came abruptly nearly a month ago when a large police contingent descended upon the licensed premises in Devonshire and closed the restaurant and bar.
While the golf course remains unaffected, there is no official facility for players to congregate and socialise after their round.
The roadside sign for Clubhouse Bar & Lounge at the storied Ocean View Golf Course reads “Closed”, and no one is saying how long it will be before it opens again.
One thing appears to be certain. When it does reopen, there will be a new operator.
The existing concessionaire was a partnership that included Kacey Smith, who took over the lease near the start of the government’s fiscal year in April.
When contacted about the club’s closure, Mr Smith would only say: “I’ve got no comment because it’s a mess.”
Ocean View regulars have privately complained that more recently Mr Smith appeared to be pushed out and a golf course trustee, or former trustee, seemed to be in charge.
They say there was optimism that Mr Smith would breathe new life into the place, especially as he was heavily invested in getting much-needed repairs and renovations completed — work he actually did himself.
It was a surprise, they say, when he seemed to be displaced. But since then, those who apparently replaced him were told to vacate the premises.
Questions were put to the Government nearly two weeks ago about the state of the concession, the circumstances of the abrupt closure at the government facility and when the public can expect resumption of service.
There was no comment on these or related questions.
A government spokesman directed our inquiries to the chairman of the board of trustees.
The Minister of Public Works appointed the board of trustees of the public golf courses, with effect from January 1 under The Golf Courses (Consolidation) Act 1998.
Government MP Kim Swan was appointed chairman and other members included deputy chairman Vincent Hollinsid, government MP Jason Wade, Allan DeSilva, Claredon LaMel Burch, Denton Outerbridge, government senator Owen K Darrell, Quinton Ming, lawyer Tyrone S Quinn Jr, Xavier James and Ianthia Butler.
Mr Quinn’s name is now missing from the list of trustees posted at the golf course.
When approached by The Royal Gazette, chairman Swan said that he had no comment.
Previously operated at a loss by the Government, it was decided many years ago that the restaurants at public golf courses were better run by the private sector, with the Government collecting a guaranteed revenue from the monthly lease/concession fee.
Over the years, however, the revenue has not always been guaranteed.
But the government process of replacing a concessionaire is time consuming and an interim measure may be required for the facility to operate in the near term.
The income helps to offset some costs of public golf courses, which have also traditionally run at a loss, at least before Bermuda’s ability to attract a PGA Tour event at the Port Royal Golf Course.
The nine-hole Ocean View Golf Course dates back well before the Second World War, is the most centrally located golf course and was eventually taken over by the Government sometime after the war.
It had long been known as a home for black players when they were shunned by Bermuda’s private clubs. Before that it was used extensively by landed military.