Letter to the editor

Placing blame where it belongs

To the editor:

Here we go again, with sensational headlines on the front page of The Recorder: "Council has 'torpedoed' Muni future." Among other things, the article indicates that the golf commission wonders why the council has not reached out to them for their input. I would offer the reason is because the council has no faith in the golf commission as they are a hand-picked group put in place by the mayor to help her get rid of Joe Merendo. Both the Mayor and the golf commission would like everyone to believe that the golf course is deteriorating and underperforming due to Merendo's mismanagement. I would agree that the course is deteriorating and underperforming but the fault does not lie with the Merendo, but rather with the city employees that maintain the course and ultimately the mayor who manages the city. The pro's responsibilities are to manage the pro shop, rent carts, offer golf lessons, and run tournaments. He is not responsible for maintaining the golf course. The golf course is maintained by city employees including the superintendent who directs the maintenance operations. The best the pro can do is make suggestions to the golf commission or superintendent which usually go unheeded.

The problem with the golf course is the golf course, not the concession or the pro. The course is poorly maintained as compared to other municipal and private courses in the area. This is well known but you never hear the mayor or the golf commission mention this. Why not? Because it would divert attention from Merendo to poor course maintenance. People will not come to play a course that is not well maintained as they have many other choices of courses that offer a better golf experience. People don't come to a golf course to meet the pro or because the hamburgers taste good. They come to play the course. If the conditions are not good they don't come back. People, from out of town, come to play here as Muni has the distinction of being a Robert Trent Jones designed course. I and many other Muni players have heard the constant complaints about the tee boxes, fairways, traps and slow greens.

The course is deteriorating at the hands of city personnel who manage and maintain the course. The mayor is ultimately responsible for city employees. I would submit that the deteriorating conditions are not the fault of Merendo but rather the mayor and the golf commission. Why would the common council reach out to the golf commission when they are making Merendo the scapegoat for all things wrong with Muni? The reason so many golfers support Joe the Pro (as evidenced by the several hundred people that showed up for the fund raiser at the course) is because they know the truth about the misleading characterization of the pro by the commission and the mayor.

As for course underperformance (which we have heard about ad nauseum), almost all golf courses that rely on public business are seeing a downturn in revenues. This is not the fault of anyone but more likely a sign of the times with the general malaise of the economy and a general trend away from golf. These conditions are well known by golf course operations throughout the country. Marketing the course could help but that again should be the responsibility of the golf commission and the city that owns the course, not the pro. He is a golfer not a marketing executive.

Lastly, the mayor has made numerous statements that the common council does not cooperate with her. The five members of the council were unanimous in their resolution to offer a contract to Joe Merendo and then there was the mayor, all by herself, against the resolution. It is obvious to me and should be to all the citizens of Amsterdam that she is the one who is not cooperating.

A lot more could be said (believe it or not) but the non-golfing public has indicated that it is sick of this whole mess and I do not blame them. Remember one thing: It is the mayor's office that has been attacking the course and Joe Merendo over the years with many misleading and inaccurate statements, not our present common council.

Michael DiBartolomeo,