Longshore Golf Pro Situation Still Rough

The Longshore golf course opens in about 6 weeks.

There are still no carts or balls in the pro shop. A new pro has not yet been hired.

Now there’s no greenskeeper either.

Michael Golden — who earned raves as head golf course superintendent at Longshore, turning the facility into Golfweek’s #8 public place to play in 2016 — has moved on to Sterling Farms in Stamford.

A number of Longshore golfers have expressed concern about the unsettled situation. As reported in December on “06880,” longtime pro John Cooper felt that the terms offered for renewal of his contract were untenable.

The town has reworked its RFP, but so far has not reached an agreement with a new pro.

Time for a  mulligan?

The Longshore golf course reopens in just a few weeks.

The Longshore golf course reopens in just a few weeks.

27 responses to “Longshore Golf Pro Situation Still Rough

  1. I am amazed that the town decided to ” fix something that’s not broke”. Now the town has lots of questions, no answers and golfers wanting to know what is going to be done. While only an occasional player at Longshore I thought Cooper and his team did a wonderful job

  2. SHAMEFUL

  3. I’m sure everyone misses John right now

  4. Back in December when this whole mess and incompetant handling of the matter was exposed, all we asked for was transparency. Instead we get more deceit and pathetic management

    The people involved from the town and the golf advisory committee should be forced to resign

    If it not broken don’t fix it

  5. Michael Nayor

    John Cooper has been a real asset to Longshore. He is extraordinarily well-credentialed and has done a good job. He has a lot of support in the community. The powers that be who have a bone to pick should attempt to reconcile their thoughts with John. Westport is unlikely to fill John’s shoes with a similar caliber of golf pro, and resident golfers are not going to take kindly to a mess that was created by short-sightedness and poor planning.

  6. Face it….John Cooper and Michael Golden have turned a “sows ear into a golden purse” given what they have had to work with! I am not a regular golfer at Longshore so the incredible improvements made by that team have been tremendous. I agree that people on the advisory committee should be ashamed of the way they have handled this whole affair!
    They need to step up to the plate…admit they have handled this debacle inappropriately… and fix it respectfully, or as Mr. Ritter has suggested…the advisory committee should resign. March is fast approaching and no solution is on the horizon.

  7. Grace Galindo

    John Cooper and his employees are also part of making Longshore the 8th best golf course to play. Notice how more welcoming it has become the last 6 years? Give Mr. Cooper some credit.

  8. Charlie Haberstroh

    The Town outsources the maintenance to Brightview, which is responsible for the upkeep of the course. The individual who happens to be superintendent works for Brightview which has many resources available to the superintendent. We have been very fortunate to have 3 outstanding superintendents provided by Brightview (formerly Valleycrest) since our contract with them some 3+ years ago. I have heard few complaints about the condition of the course, despite the turnover. Management at Brightview is already interviewing for the position and expect to have a qualified superintendent by the time the course needs to be prepared for play.

    As far as the golf pro is concerned, I have read all the comments in this blog entry and the previous one on the subject. The original RFP was based on past contracts with the golf pro (John Cooper). I won’t go into the details, but as the RFP is a public document, it can be obtained if anyone is interested. In any event, we had 4 responses, among them John Cooper’s. We analyzed all 4 and chose John’s bid. However, John pulled his bid. Once he did, we technically could not consider his new one. The “New Bid” was for approximately $100k more than his previous one and violated the provisions of the original RFP. We offered to continue his original contract for another year, which he declined. So we moved onto the other bids. When we considered the runner up bid, it soon became apparent that John Cooper was working with the bidder and the runner up’s bid was changed and that bid was pulled.

    Therefore we had no choice but to go out with a new RFP which allows the bidders more freedom in formulating their bids. The bids are due tomorrow.
    Once the bids are vetted to ensure they conform to the RFP, we will evaluate the actual bids.

    We fully expect that the course will be up and running and fully staffed for the 2017-2018 season. I’m happy to respond to questions. Either email me at haberstroh.prc@gmail.com or call and leave a message on my cellphone.

    One last comment, I have been volunteering and serving the town as a member of the RTM, Board of Finance, Board of Selectman and now on the Parks and Rec. Commission since 2001 and I assure the readers that all members of the Golf Advisory Committee, the Parks and Rec. Commission and the Parks and Rec Department personnel have been working diligently to make the golf experience at Longshore the best in CT. I understand the angst of folks who feel that a high quality individual like John Cooper deserves to be Golf Pro regardless of the facts of the matter. We only wish John well in whatever he decides to do in the future.

  9. Could not agree more the the coaches to the staff behind the counter.. what a great team , now lost

  10. Don L Bergmann

    No one is irreplaceable. Our golf course has been managed well for the last several years and I expect that to continue. I have long supported the skills and dedication of our Golf Advisory Committee and also know that Charlie Haberstroh, the Chair of our Parks & Recreation Comm., is committed to the quality of Longshore Golf Course and its management. Charlie, like me, is a golfer. Let’s give all a chance. I predict that for most, the outcomes will be up to a standard that we have come to expect and enjoy.
    Don Bergmann

  11. Not if the mulligan involves getting Cooper back. HIs hot and cold moods were trying to say the least.

  12. Now, let’s take all of the people and personal beliefs as to how we got to where we are at today out of the equation, how can one suggest that the fact that the company responsible grounds maintenance has had such a high turn over rate is ok?

    If whomever takes over the proshop has the same rate of turnover, how can one keep a game of consistency, consistent?

    Lastly, knowing how the town works as far as rules for new contracts and puchases such as this. How can a new company be selected, vetted, approved by the town bodies in one month? How can the funds for the purchase of range balls, merchandise, and the tens of not a hundred-thousand dollars for carts be approved by the town bodies? These are not budgeted items for the Town or Parks and Rec.

    Lastly, if somehow it all makes it through the town bodies, how can all these items and staff be procured is such a rush? Will we loose out on quality?

    Just some food for thought.

  13. Charlie Haberstroh

    Fred, It is not “ok”, but a fact of life. A young energetic former assistant superintendent moves into the Longshore spot, does well and is grabbed by a private course which may pay better than Brightview is willing to pay. In this case it revolved around housing: Sterling offered housing, which is simply a cost element as well. On the other matter it is certainly easier to outsource that function. We will look at the RFPs and make a decision. It is certainly not impossible to go for an appropriation for balls and leasing of carts in the short run if we need to. We can make arrangements for someone to run the pro-shop as well. That is not the preferred solution however.

  14. Hiring a golf professional is much more than completing an RFP correctly. The person, his staff and reputation are critical. I for one would be quite concerned that there were only four responses with so many golf professionals who should love the job. Interviews and reference checks are far more important than the numbers.

  15. Charlie Haberstroh

    Agreed. That’s why we interviewed each candidate extensively and checked references. We will do likewise going forward. We, too, were surprised about the 4 responses.

  16. now it’s gettin’ good !

  17. To the person who keeps posting comments under different names, saying that I am “in bed” with John Cooper: I am deleting your posts not because of content, but because you do not follow the rules and use your full, real name. Everyone else is using real names here, on both sides of the issue. Have some guts and do the same.

    I can take plenty of criticism. But I use my real name, and so does everyone else. As we say in golf: get a grip.

  18. Why did Parks and Recreation put this out to bid in the first place? Last year was a great year for the course. Some people may rub others the wrong way , but for the overall golfing community it seemed a pretty damn good place to play. I don’t remember ever seeing the Golf Advisory or Parks and Recreation posting a reason. Maybe that would be helpful for the public to read. Did the committee want more revenue back to the town? If so is that reasoning working out? And what about the bunkers ? What is the last start/finish dates?

    • Charlie Haberstroh

      It is general Town policy to go out for RFP and encourage competitive bids where feasible. We decided to do that over two years ago in therms of the golf pro and pro shop management. John Cooper had five 5 year contracts and one 1 year extension without competitive bids. That was the decision of a prior Parks and Rec Director and previous administrations. Not to say those weren’t good deals for both parties, but we felt that John and others could bid on the contract and the town would be better served.

  19. Charlie thanks for providing the background and insight into what is really happening. Sounds like there is a lot more to this than mere incompetence on the part of P&R as some others concluded.

    I am not a big golfer but I am happy that people like yourself are willing to take on this thankless job. I appreciate the constraints you face and trust this issue will be resolved

  20. Christopher Dwyer

    I think the committee needs to look in the mirror and stop reading their own press clippings. They made a joke of the Compo beach improvement process and is now doing the same with the Longshore Golf process.

  21. As a member of the RTM and RTM Parks and Recreation Committee- These blogs are great for discussion. Slander, Harassment, Bullying, no place here, or any other blogs. It’s nice of Dan to put out “topics of interest” for us to discus, and perhaps trade ideas. Charlie has given everyone an open line to call him and ask questions and voice your concern. Do it. Better to talk straight up then with keys.
    My one thought here is, I’d love to see a future Golf Advisory Committee consist of the Head Greens Keeper, The Head Pro, as well as a Member from each of the Longshore Men and Women Golf Associations. Hopefully someday this will happen and common goals like a new clubhouse, can be accomplished. With 3,000 plus pass holders working as one like other organizations in our community such as the Library and Levitt Pavillion the ability to get things done would be greatly enhanced.
    I urge those on the sidelines venting through social media to get involved…ask questions, go to meetings (Golf Advisory Meeting Monday February 6, Town Hall) and let your voice be heard.

  22. Carl Addison Swanson, Esq.

    Since I have been playing Longshore since the spring of 1960, I can assure you that it has never been in better shape and thanks to those responsible. That said, after talking to several members of the Golf Advisory Board, pro shop employees and fellow RESIDENT golfers, I feel that their is underlying mindset to increase the number of rounds of golf played and thereby, creating more money available for new facilities. As such, the focus is away of what we have to what we want. In my mind, that is reason for the loss of Cooper and several greens keepers. Pay them well and they will stay. P.S. “Coop” has applied for the starter-ranger job at Rolling Hills. SHAME!

  23. Bart Shuldman

    Longshore has many issues including the INN. If you read the lease, one requirement is a grill and the food to be served is actually specifically detailed. The lease specifies the hours the grill should be open which would be great for the golfers and the town. As we know, there is NO GRILL. The lease also specifies the INN to be a top facility with rooms, etc which it is not.

    The same person has had the lease for decades. Why? Why has the town not terminated the lease for breach? Why are Westport tax payers losing out on what should be a fabulous facility/Inn/restaurants and grill.

    So while we debate the Pro issue, I hope more start to focus on the fact that Westporters could
    Have a fantastic facility at Longshore and something is going on to prevent that from happening.

  24. Stephen Rappaport

    With all due respect to the P & R Commission, sometimes best intentions result in bad outcomes. This decision appears to be a case in point. John has been part of the Westport community long before his Staples golfing days and a true asset to Longshore and those of us who play there. Pushing him out weakens the Town’s ties to its past and the thread to its wonderful traditions. That’s why we don’t tear down every old house and why we endlessly debate what downtown should look and feel like. The Town’s “business” decisions also have to be linked to what is best for the fabric of the community, not just the money. Bring John back! He’s one of us.

  25. I have been a PGA member since 1984. I came upon this article somewhat by accident and couldn’t feel worse. John, as has been stated, is a Westporter and perhaps hung in there longer than many pros would have. I was asked years ago by a selectperson what I thought about Westport golf and I said that if I were trying to sell this community to a person that I would highlight the Lonshore and Compo beach area. But, look at the pro shop (clubhouse)! How the man paid rent for that! I am sorry,this is a very prestigious, high profile community. I wonder, did he have to pay when there were no greens?
    Another pro and I were talking about the situation that the town is now in. It is very telling about a job when asst. pros are not applying in great numbers, let alone head professionals, with the lack of available positions. I know what it costs to live and raise a family in Fairfield County, it’s very difficult. I don’t know how the man did it for so many years. John, I hope you land in a better place, you earned it.

  26. Well said. We should not be surprised that there have not been many assistants chasing the job. To start out they are very skilled at golf but not as skilled at completing RFP’s. Secondly whoever runs the shop will need capital and most assistants would have a difficult time raising the capital. Finally who would want to even try to replace John knowing what happened to him could happen to them. My guess is that it will be a very tough season.