The winter months are normally quiet at Cedaredge Golf Course, but not this year, with the resignation of golf pro Larry Murphy and the replacement of the course superintendent.
Murphy, who just completed his 10th year of employment at the golf club, had initially planned to enter into the town's retirement transition plan. That program would have resulted in half-time compensation. He instead decided to fully retire, effective Dec. 31, due in part to the "realization that working part time in 2018 will not work effectively for the town or myself. I am giving this notice to better prepare the town for the golf professional replacement and to organize 2017 year-end and 2018 duties."
A retirement party will be held at the clubhouse Monday, Dec. 11, from 5 to 7 p.m. A $5 charge will cover the cost of food; a cash bar will be available.
At their Nov. 16 meeting, town trustees agreed to advertise for a golf club operations manager with a starting salary of $37,955. The application deadline is Nov. 30.
Many community members have stated a PGA master professional is unnecessarily expensive. Cedaredge resident Gerry Mendralla reiterated that point during constituent time. He said Murphy's resignation is a great opportunity for the trustees to step back and look at how the golf course, "a very important asset," can be operated in a more businesslike manner.
"Larry has done a fine job, but I really don't think under the current economic conditions we can afford to have a golf pro," Mendralla said.
The golf club operations director will be a full-time employee who provides direction for all play-related issues, from purchases and equipment to rules and instruction, and who will supervise the pro shop, golf course employees and volunteers.
Both the golf course operations director and the golf superintendent are department heads, reporting to the town administrator.
During the Nov. 16 council meeting, town administrator Katie Sickles announced that Adam Conway has been re-hired by the town to serve as golf course superintendent.
A number of people were in the audience to address that change, which came on the heels of the termination of Steve Phillips.
Phillips, who had been on the job for just nine months, said he believed he had performed his job as well as he could, given budget and staff restrictions. He spoke openly at the public meeting, stating he was told he was being terminated because he was jeopardizing the golf course irrigation system, due to his reluctance to listen to golf course staff.
"It was the last thing I was expecting," he said, given that that performance evaluations conducted by Larry Murphy indicated he was meeting expectations in every category. He had received no verbal or written warnings, and had not been subject to any disciplinary action. Another factor in his termination, he said, was "false testimony" from a co-worker.
Until August, he said, he reported to the golf pro; since then, he had been reporting to the town administrator.
"The entire process was just not professional," he said. "I just wish the next person will get a little bit more respect, notice and reasoning for termination."
During constituent time, Dennis Smith and his wife Marilyn objected to the manner of Phillips' dismissal, calling it "extreme scapegoating at its worst."
The irrigation system has had significant needs for more than a decade, they said. To place the blame on Steve Phillips is not acceptable. "I think we should honor the man for getting us through a very difficult summer," they said.