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Wednesday, Aug 27, 2014
Pasco Tribune

Plantation Palms course reopens, lays off staff

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LAND O’ LAKES — Plantation Palms Golf Club, which was closed for a week, has re-opened after reducing its staff by eight employees.

In an attempt to ease a strained budget, the course, owned by MJS Golf Group, LLC, closed from Aug. 9 to 16.

“There’s definitely a deficit that had a part in (the closing). There are several parts involved in why we closed,” Jayson Ray, one of three managing owners, said from his office at the course. “It all came together at once and it hit us. Lack of play, the weather, break downs, parts. … Financially we’re OK. We’re wanting to move forward. We apologize to our members and hope you guys understand and come back and play.”

Ray did not reveal specifics regarding the financial issues the club has faced, but recent court records show a sales and use tax bill, which included a $2,200 penalty, of $24,897.14 owed to Florida’s Department of Revenue.

The company’s 2011 and 2012 taxes, which are classified as delinquent by the Pasco County Tax Collector’s Office website, exceeds $61,000.

This is the first time the 148-acre, 18-hole golf course, which opened in Dec. 28, 2000, has closed due to financial troubles.

The course was purchased by MJS, comprised of Mitchell Osceola, Steve McDonald and Ray, in 2011 for $2.18 million.

The course has closed in the past for maintenance. Last fall, the course closed due to overseeding for about five days, Ray said.

“It was just going to be a temporary thing for us,” Ray said of the closing. “We still had people working. We still have people on the maintenance staff, people on the [administrative] staff still working, but we just had to close the doors to make things work.”

The staff of 21 had to be reduced to 13. Ray said he anticipates bringing the staff back to full strength by November.

The course, which operates from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., currently has just more than 100 members. The closing, which isn’t mentioned on the club’s website, Facebook page or Twitter account, was not welcome news for some golfers.

“Some of our members were highly upset,” Ray said. “Those are the guys who play five days a week. I can understand that because I am a golfer, too, and I like to play every day, no matter what. I enjoy the game of golf as much as our members do. We hopefully will not allow this to happen again.”

Ray said most members have been understanding, while some expressed a desire to rescind their membership. He plans to meet with those who are upset in an attempt to keep them at the club.

“Any business that wants to try and survive, their first priority is to help the bottom line and doing so, unfortunately, is laying people off,” Ray said. “That’s always your biggest expense in a business, as far as golf courses are concerned. I can’t speak for other businesses.

“We’re back going again, but we won’t bring back the full (number of) employees until the first of November when we ramp up for the winter time.”

edaniels@tampatrib.com

(813) 371-1860

Twitter: @EDanielsTBO

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