OAK RIDGE, Tenn. — The Oak Ridge City Council voted unanimously to approve a resolution to pay a $175,000 settlement to Billy Casper Golf Management, which formerly ran the city’s Tennessee Centennial Golf Course.
Council member Ellen Smith made the motion and member Chuck Hope seconded Monday night.
Billy Casper Golf Management managed the course for the city from 2000 until 2017. The city ended that agreement in 2017, alleging a “failure to manage Centennial Golf Course in a financially effective manner,” city Attorney Ken Krushinski stated in a memo included with the agenda for the meeting.
However, in 2017 statements to the media, the city cited its desire to make repairs to the course as the reason for taking control.
“Golf is an extremely dynamic sport, and we have to adapt in order to remain competitive,” City Manager Mark Watson was quoted as saying in a 2017 city news release. “Our goal is to have a truly great public golf course, and this is the first step in making that a reality.”
Since 2017, the City of Oak Ridge owns and manages the golf course.
Krushinski stated in the memo that Billy Casper Golf Management contested the city’s termination of the management agreement “for cause.” He stated the company originally claimed the city owed it $522,792 in termination fees. However, he stated Billy Casper Golf Management later agreed to accept a $175,000 settlement from the city.
Krushinski told the city council at the meeting that paying the settlement will help the city “maintain the golf course as we had intended” while avoiding “costly litigation.”
Funds to pay the $175,000 are available in the city’s insurance fund, Krushinski stated.
Ben Pounds is a staff reporter for The Oak Ridger. Call him at (865) 441-2317 and follow him on Twitter @Bpoundsjournal.