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Mulligan for Dauphin Island golf course?
Published: Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Casandra Andrews By Casandra Andrews, Press-Register

The Dauphin Island Property Owner's Association voted recently to close the Isle Dauphine Golf Club because of financial troubles. A group of volunteers have agreed to give of their time to maintain the 18-hole course for at least the next three months, a spokesman said. David Graves rakes a sand trap on the 10th hole as volunteers prepare the now-closed golf course Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2011, in Dauphin Island, Ala., for re-opening on Thursday, Dec. 29. (Press-Register/Mike Kittrell)
MOBILE, Alabama -- When word spread that the Dauphin Island Property Owners Association voted to close the town’s golf course because of money troubles, more than 50 people gathered a few days later and developed a plan to re-open the course using volunteers. With an unpaid staff to maintain the grounds and nearly everything else, the 18-hole course will reopen Thursday, a town spokesman said.

Since Dec. 20, more than a dozen residents and property owners have spent their mornings mowing grass and learning the ins-and-outs of operating and maintaining the barrier island’s lone golf course, said volunteer Jim Hall.

Plans call for the Isle Dauphine to be open five days a week, Wednesday through Sunday, for at least three months, Hall said. A restaurant on the property, the Gulfview Grill, also will be open for breakfast and lunch on the same days.

Jack Gaines II, president of the Dauphin Island Property Owners Association, said in a written statement that there could be some financial assistance to hire a new manager and staff a few months down the road.

Dauphin Island Mayor Jeff Collier, who served as the Isle Dauphine’s golf professional and more recently as its manager, was told in mid-December his employment there would end Jan. 31.

In an interview earlier this month announcing the golf course closure, Gaines said the course had failed to turn a profit, typically losing about $150,000 a year. The property owners association, which receives dues on a voluntary basis, Gaines said, was able to offset the loss for a while with money earned from royalties on a trust fund. Those funds have also declined in recent years. The public course opened in 1960.

When asked who would be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the course, Hall said it would be Gaines because he is president of the property owners association. Gaines did not immediately return phone calls and emails requesting more information about how the course will be operated.

Glen Coffee, a member of the Dauphin Island Property Owners Association, said while it’s admirable so many people are donating time to the effort, he questions what the true cost to keep the course open will be. “This is just a Band-Aid that could come off at any time if it works at all,” Coffee said. “In the meantime, the board has not moved to look at a long-term solution.”

Hall and others hope the plan works. “There are only a handful of attractions for our little Dauphin Island,” he said. “If we can make the golf course live up to its potential, we get people attracted back to playing golf.”

Plans call for opening the swimming pool and beach access in the spring, Gaines has said.

Isle Dauphine Picture Gallery, Press-Register photos By Mike Kittrell
Sign at entrance
Marcus at work
Crash searching for irrigation valve
Crash & Chris Dalton repairing sprinklers
Bill Hibberts dressing sand trap

Isle Dauphine Picture Gallery, Photos by working volunteers
Traning week before Christmas, 2011
Richard McKean cutting #9 green, Feb 2012
Jessica Mann cutting green 
							on hole number 15, Jan 2012
David Graves training Rose Rica on greens mower
Victor Mann on sand trap dressing machine
Jim Hall Repairing and repainting Tee Box signs, March 2012
Aqua Chicks, volunteers
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