Elect A RSFA Member Who Will Represent Us All

By Lisa Bartlett

May 19, 2019

When you vote for RSFA Board Members in the upcoming election, ask yourself:  How do I want my RSFA dollars spent? A shocking RSF Clubhouse Survey suggests the RSF Golf Club’s (RSFGC) $1 million-dollar planned clubhouse renovation is already a done deal. Really? Even though the RSFGC still has an outstanding $4.2 million to be paid back to the RSFA, years after the loan was to be paid off? The RSFGC has made the RSFA Board aware they want the funding to come from the RSFA and have also recently implied all non-golfing Members should “pay up” to use the club they already own.  While our golf club is indeed an invaluable asset, our limited RSFA funds should also address other pressing community needs. One of the individuals most responsible for the current financial mess is the current President of the RSFGC, who is a candidate for the RSFA Board.

 Having known Bill Strong for 20 years, I believe he is the candidate that will best represent ALL RSFA Members — not just the Golf Club, of which he is a long-term member.

Decrease in RSFGC membership 

There is no doubt that the RSFGC is a tremendous asset for our community.  However, pursuant to California law and RSFA governing documents, all the land and buildings that make-up the RSFGC and RSF Tennis Club are owned by the RSFA.  Common areas, such as the RSF golf course, clubhouse, Osuna, and a multitude of open spaces are owned as tenants in common, in equal shares, one for each separate interest/owner.  The RSFGC and RSF Tennis Club are not legal entities, own nothing, and are merely a division of the RSFA.

As of the present time, approximately 80% of RSFA members are non-golfing members.  Of about 430 golfing members, there are approximately: 47 in the inactive (not currently paying dues) category, 26 in the former resident category (no longer own property in the Covenant), and 10 who have “play privileges” but are not regular members.  In years gone by, the RSFGC had well over 600 members.  Unfortunately, there can be no doubt that the decrease in member numbers has had a dramatic, adverse effect on the financial health of the RSFGC.

Players’ Clubhouse con 

​In 2006, the RSFGC convinced the RSFA membership that it needed to spend approximately $12 million dollars to:

1. Do a complete renovation of the Main Clubhouse, to include a new outdoor dining area, enlarge the main dining room, expand and update the kitchen, provide private dining facilities and relocate the administrative offices.

 2. Build the Players’ Clubhouse, to include:  The pro shop, men’s and women’s locker rooms and lounges, veranda, “co-ed” lounge area (“co-ed” is another story) that could be reconfigured for larger events and underground cart and bag storage.

 The majority of the $12 million was spent on building the Players’ Clubhouse. There was no doubt that the Main Clubhouse needed renovation.

Inaccurate financial assumptions 

​Having personally attended two years’ worth of RSFA Board meetings relating to the “Clubhouse Renovation” project and two private meetings with members of the RSFGC Board of Governors and members of the “Clubhouse Renovation Committee,” I along with one other brave or foolish, depending on your perspective, member argued that the construction of the proposed Players’ Clubhouse made no economic sense.  “The lone twosome” made numerous arguments, which fell on deaf ears, including the following:  

1. Multiple financial assumptions were inaccurate, such as the number of new members that would join each year, paying the $50,000 initiation fee, with the accompanying monthly dues, and special assessments.

2. The U.S. economy, at that time, was doing very well but at some unknown time in the future, the “worm would turn” and the economy would not be “green lights and blue skies.”  When that happened, once again the RSFGC’s and RSFA Board’s assumptions would be faulty.

3. Golf’s popularity was no longer on an upward trajectory.  Once again, the RSFGC and RSFA Board failed to see this trend and the economic consequences thereof.

4. The Players’ Clubhouse would be underutilized, which would obviously affect the RSFGC’s bottom line.

5. In order to have a vibrant golf club, it must attract members of all ages.  At the RSFGC, that was not happening.

Today, if one enters Morgan Run Golf Club, you will see members from 30ish to 90-plus and they provide a welcoming environment for children.  When one enters the RSFGC, except at holiday mealtime, the younger generations are largely missing.

In addition to the above, a prominent member of our community advised the Board of Directors and the RSFGC leadership, maps included, that there was an “underground” river that flowed under the proposed site of the Players’ Clubhouse.  He believed the river could create significant issues if a building was built on top of the river.  The problem of sewage smell, apparent at times in the parking lot area in front of the Players’ Clubhouse, has not, to this day, been completely rectified.

Millions in unpaid debt 

Very sadly for our community, “the lonesome twosome” turned out to be correct.  The Board of Governors and RSFA Boards, consisting of mostly golf club “movers and shakers,” did an excellent job convincing the RSFA membership to vote to build the Players’ Clubhouse.  The sales pitch was that the RSFA would borrow $9 million, on behalf of the RSFGC, with the loan and debt service being fully repaid by the RSFGC, within six years.  

Some 13-plus years later, the loan has NOT been repaid in full.  In 2012 the RSFGC apparently couldn’t make the required debt service, indicating they were in financial dire straits, so the RSFA loaned the RSFGC over $1 million at a 1.2% interest rate.  This amount is still outstanding.  As of last June, the GC had over $4.2 million in unpaid Players’ Clubhouse debt.  

Thus, in all these years, only about half of the Players’ Clubhouse debt has been repaid, and now the GC is considering other major expenditures!  In addition, the “temporary” dues increase, as set-forth in the March 3 RSFGC letter (described in greater detail below) , has not been “temporary.”  There have also been “special assessments.”

Another RSFGC redo/rescue?  

The President of the RSFGC Board of Governors, at the time of the March 3, 2006 RSFGC letter to the RSFGC members, promoting the “Clubhouse Renovation,” was Steve Dunn, who is currently on the RSFA Board.  At the time of the March 3 letter, the Chair of the “Clubhouse Renovation Committee” was Bill Weber, currently a candidate for the RSFA Board.  How did these individuals, along with the others who signed the March 3 letter, who claim substantial financial acumen, make such huge financial mistakes? 

Now, the RSFGC “powers that be” want to redo the RSF golf clubhouse again, to the tune of about $1 million.  They indicate they don’t have the $1 million and want the RSFA, once again, to come to the rescue. This time it would not be a loan but a “gift,” which means all RSFA members, golfing and non-golfing alike, pay. 

Is this the cover story for the RSFA non-golfing members paying for the food and beverage losses?  Don’t hold your breath, as the next round may include a request by the “powers that be” at the RSFGC to the RSFA Board that all non-golfing RSFA members pay a fee for a social membership to use the clubhouse they already own.  As the current GC President, Bill Weber’s, March Divot article says:  “How can we more equitably share the costs and responsibilities of a facility that is really an asset to the entire community—Golf Club and Social members alike.”

Restaurant survey shock

The arguments from “the powers that be” are that the RSFGC members have contributed millions of dollars, through initiation fees, dues and special assessments to our community, resulting in a gorgeous golf course and clubhouse.  That is absolutely correct.  However, what they fail to mention is that they have the use of approximately 180 acres of prime RSFA land with absolutely no payment to the RSFA.

The “RSF Clubhouse Restaurant User Survey,” emailed a few days ago asks three loaded questions, with no meaningfully ability to respond.  I was amazed, as the survey assumes that the RSFGC $1 million-dollar renovation will take place.  Have you as a Member been consulted?  Has the RSFA Board of Directors officially approved the $1 million?  Isn’t the survey more than premature?

​The RSFGC has substantial “free reserves,” to the tune of over $1.25 million.  Why not draw on those funds to pay down the debt and/or do the proposed renovation?

Limited RSFA funds 

While there is no doubt as to the value to our community of having a beautiful golf course and clubhouse, RSFA funds are limited.  The RSFA is about to unveil a long-needed high-speed internet option.  The Community Enhancement Fund (CEF) was essentially depleted to the tune of about $7 million and a $11 million loan was taken out to finance the internet project.  Hopefully, this much needed amenity will be a huge win-win for our community, with the debt being repaid, at least in large part, by monies that flow yearly into the CEF. 

​There are significant demands on limited RSFA funds.  Why should the RSFGC consistently be the primary recipient of community funds when, unlike the internet, there is no reasonable hope of repayment on a timely basis, or at all?  

​The RSFGC “powers that be” try to ignore the “elephant in the room.”  If the RSFGC wants funding from the RSFA membership as a whole, why not face up to the grey water issue, which apparently could cost $6 million, or more?  If there is a RSFGC project that would benefit all members, this is the one, expensive as it would be.  In the years before the Ann Boon boards, prior boards said there was no possibility of a successful RSFA internet.  The Ann Boon boards and those boards that have followed, appear to have proven those naysayers wrong. It is now being said, by some, that there is no realistic grey water solution.  Why not?

Community-wide needs 

In addition to the RSFGC desire for funds, what about the rest of the community?  What about funding for a relatively inexpensive pool, funding for fire abatement in one of the state’s highest risk areas, and other community-wide needs?

How can we seriously consider electing to the RSFA Board a person who is “one of the powers that be” at the RSFGC and who “helped” get the RSFGC, and thus the RSFA, into the position that the GC still owes the RSFA over $4.2 million relating to the Player’s Clubhouse?  Six to seven years after “the powers that be” at the GC promised the community the money the RSFA borrowed on behalf of the GC would be repaid in full, they still owe about $4.2 million and now they want more!

​Unless your only interest is having the RSFA Board invest your assessment fees in the RSFGC, I have no doubt that the RSFA Board candidate that is best qualified to serve the needs of all members is Bill Strong.

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