0

First Tee of Albany officially closed

Donald Hood, of the Dougherty County Facilities Management Department, loads golf clubs used from the now-defunct First Tee of Albany into the back of a county truck Wednesday. County officials moved much of the equipment at the location away to offsite storage until it's determined what will happen to the downtown location.

Donald Hood, of the Dougherty County Facilities Management Department, loads golf clubs used from the now-defunct First Tee of Albany into the back of a county truck Wednesday. County officials moved much of the equipment at the location away to offsite storage until it's determined what will happen to the downtown location.

— Dougherty County Public Works Department employees were moving equipment from the offices of First Tee today following the organization's announcement that it is closing due to financial reasons.

County Administrator Richard Crowdis said workers were moving golf clubs, vending machines and other equipment from the First Tee facility on Mercer Avenue near Albany Civic Center.

Albany City Manager James Taylor, who was on the site today, called the closing "regrettable" saying it was a sign of the tough economic climate.

Burkett Carver is executive director of First Tee. The organization sought to develop life skills for at-risk youngsters through golf instruction and principles.

President and CEO of the First Tee of Albany Board, Jim Rusin, said that maintaining the facility had simply become economically unreasonable.

We came to the realization that, with the way the economy is, our corporate sponsors have quit giving, our grant money is gone, and we could only raise so much, it just wasn’t enough," Rusin said. "When you're able to raise $30,000 but you're budget is $150,000, it's just not going to work."

Rusin said that he had met with county officials at the site Wednesday to point out the things that were purchased with SPLOST dollars and the things that belonged to First Tee. Crowdis said that he's not yet sure what the county will do with the items that were bought with tax dollars, saying that for now the items will be secured in county storage facilities.

Carver appeared before the Albany City Commission on June 7, 2011 asking for funding assistance and warned commissioners that without help, the organization's future was uncertain.

"Mr. Carver said that ... with the downturn in the economy and other local non-profits chasing the same philanthropic dollar, donations have dried up and they have cut everything they can cut. This is the first time in their existence that they have reached out to the City for help, otherwise they will have to vacate the property, which becomes a 15 acre eyesore and short changes the youth," the official minutes of the Albany City Commission state.

First Tee of Albany was established in 1999 after funding was approved by the voters on a Special Local Option Sales Tax referendum. At that time, the Albany chapter of First Tee was one of 145 complexes to be built across the nation.

The now defunct, 16-acre site will officially revert back to the city of Albany in 90 days. City officials have not said what they intend to do with the site, although the city's Recreation and Parks department is working on a plan for the facility.

There is also talk of the site being another possible location for a controversial multimodal transit center. When asked about that Wednesday, Taylor said he had no immediate comment.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yb-2kl_X3nk

Comments

VSU 1 year, 11 months ago

I never saw anybody playing there whenever I rode by, place was always empty, course I did not ride by everyday, but when I did I never saw anyone. I thought they had already closed down.

0

VSU 1 year, 11 months ago

It was a little golf course behind The Civic Center by the cemetary.

0

Citizen_A 1 year, 11 months ago

This was breaking news yesterday....sorry to hear they are closing though.

1

buddy 1 year, 11 months ago

Went there once, but felt I needed to be packing heat to protect my kid. Why put a starter golf course in the middle of gang turf? Stupid decision - stupid results!

1

AnotherMom 1 year, 11 months ago

This is another example of trying to help "underprivileged" children. You can't help those who don't want to be helped. This is the fault of the children's "parents" - whoever they may be - usually a teen mom - with no dad in the picture.

1

TheBoss 1 year, 11 months ago

It wasn't a babysitting service. Drop kids off and leave.

0

bowyoback76 1 year, 11 months ago

I personally taught over 400 to 500 youth chracter ed. classes there and it will be terrible if the city just lets the facility become an eyesore. It was not in gang territory, it is surronded on two sides by Riverside cemetery, the Civic Center and the Flint River. If anything youth were taught about the dangers of gang life at the facility. Children who never put a club in their hand were exposed to one of the greatest games ever and gave them another alternative instead of the stereotypical mess that is out there. Of course its easy to take shots at the less fortunate until one of the less fortunate becomes your problem and then all we hear is we got to do something about the youth in the city. I would like to think that I helped a few problemed youth not become your problem during the First Tee's existence.

1

Sister_Ruby 1 year, 11 months ago

Tiger Woods should move to Albany and fund and run this outfit. He's through with golf so it would make a great retirement position for him. And Albany's got plenty of single ladies of both races who would chase his money.

0

billybob 1 year, 11 months ago

What! A crappy golf course in a bad part of town targeted to young at-risk kids can't make it! Hold on. The room is spinning. Let me sit down and try to digest this shocking information.

1

Amazed2 1 year, 11 months ago

Unfortunately for Albany and the limited number of children that even attended First Tee, it was doomed before it ever got started. The First Tee has been heavily subsidized by Splost and other funds from the local taxpayers. The operators were in this deal using someone elses money, not theirs. I am sure they QUIT when the grant monies and other donations slowed, Again, just another unfortunate deal the City and COunty Leaders got us into another Losing Deal. First Tee did not build the course and from the looks of the news pictures it looks like tax dollars were even buying golf clubs and other operational item. Guess the First Tee has hit the same fate as the Skate Park. Gone Broke with City and County and maybe even Federal and State Dollars too. Another failure of Leaders in the City and County. Maybe I can convince them to let me open it as a Gang Ball Night Golf thing. I am sure I could run it for a year or two for maybe $500,000 from Splost. Opposing Gangs could play each other in night golf instead of shooting at each other and robbing stores. Hey I am going to put in a business plan with Ms. Cutts and see if I get approved.

1

dingleberry 1 year, 11 months ago

I did not remember that the program was set up with $1 million from SPLOST. With an annual operating cost of $150,000, and no regular funding source, it was doomed to fail at some point. Probably a program that did some good but the problem is we have too many "good programs" taking care of the disadvantaged-- and too many disadvantaged to take care of. We have got to scale back to what works best and is most affordable, and it appears First T wasn't it.

1

DoctorDorite 1 year, 11 months ago

No government should be in the entertainment business anyway ! Even Ray Charles could see this was going to happen when it started up. Government officials, you gotta love'em. LOL

0

Sign in to comment