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Rincon council approves golf cart bid

POSTED: December 26, 2011 5:23 p.m.

Golfers wanting to tee it up at Lost Plantation will have more than just a newly-refurbished course and new fees — they’ll be able to navigate around the course in new golf courts.

Rincon City Council members approved a bid for 50 new golf carts from Yamaha for the city’s golf course, a contract worth $141,500.

Council members had tossed around the idea of buying 30 new carts now and trying to bring 20 carts in serviceable condition for the course’s fleet. Tony DeLucca, the Eastern district manager for Yamaha, said he was willing to do that, but he cautioned council members against it.

“But the problem is I’ve opened up a box of unintended consequences that is bad for you,” he said.

Golfers, DeLucca said, will opt to use the brand-new cars over the rebuilt, older ones. The new carts and batteries can take up to 19,000 rounds of play a year, DeLucca said. But they may not last as long — leading to higher repair bills and replacement costs — if they are used exclusively.

“You’ll have more rounds on the carts, and the batteries will go by faster,” said interim city manager and finance director Wesley Corbitt. “It’s going to take a good bit of repair to bring 10 carts up to speed.”

Yamaha’s contract included rebates for the course’s existing carts, as long as they were operable. That means Yamaha would take the better carts among the fleet and those left behind may require extensive, expensive fixes.

“We’ll be better off, in my opinion, to buy the 50,” Corbitt said.

DeLucca told council members the course — with its new irrigation system in place — could challenge Savannah area courses as one of the most popular around.

“You have a good product,” he said of the course. “Your course will be solid in the next year and a half. The quality of the course is the face of the city.”

DeLucca also praised the Lost Plantation staff, telling council members he doesn’t often run into the kind of courteous behavior they exhibited.

“One of the reasons I was so aggressive in pursuing this was your staff,” he said. “With all the money you have spent on irrigation and the course, you need to complete the package. You don’t have enough carts, gentlemen.”

Replied council member Ken Baxley: “It’s a problem we’d like to have.”

Council members have asked for the number of rounds played at the course, and council member Paul Wendelken said people have asked him why the city is contemplating buying so many new golf carts.

“I don’t deny we need new golf carts. We’re still projected to lose $166,000 next year, even if the play comes back,” he said. “There is no year ahead of us we can foresee that we break even and then we start to make money. We want to see the other side.”

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