Tag: Amelia Island

80% of Ocean Links Greens, Bunkers leveled by Omni Court approves sodding bare areas until lawsuit is settled

By Mike Lednovich, Editor/Publisher

Over 80 percent of the greens and bunker complexes on the Ocean Links Golf Course have been destroyed, according to a court affidavit provided by Golf Course Superintendent Jason Wilson in Nassau County Circuit Court.

Only three of the 18 greens and their bunkers remain intact and unscathed, although Wilson told the court The Omni is not maintaining them.

In mid-November, The Omni Resort began bulldozing the greens and bunkers on the scenic course which includes four holes along the shores of the Atlantic Ocean.

The demolition of Ocean Links was halted after the Amelia Island Club and its members filed a complaint and a Nassau County Judge granted the club a temporary injunction, blocking The Omni’s plans to close Ocean Links and convert the land into green space.

According to Wilson, only the green and bunker complexes on holes 1, 2 and 6 are untouched.  All other 15 greens have been destroyed and graded. Wilson reported that only four greenside bunkers remain untouched.

On Dec. 27, Judge Steven Fahlgren granted The Omni’s request to modify the preliminary injunction allowing the resort to grade and sod affected areas of Ocean Links to prevent flooding and eliminate potential hazardous conditions to Omni guests.

Also at issue are the 6th hole, one of most scenic on the Ocean Links layout.

Wilson said The Omni would not maintain the 6th green and bunkers because the hotel had planned to reposition the green before it had decided to close the course. Omni lawyers said even if the Amelia Island Club won its fight to keep Ocean Links operating, the resort still was within its rights to reconfigure holes on the golf course.

A hearing is scheduled for Jan. 12 to consider whether owners of Linkside Villas, which are located adjacent to several Ocean Links holes, will be allowed to join the lawsuit against The Omni.

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Omni issues rebuttal on Ocean Links demolition Resort says it is entitled to relocate or replace its golf amenities

The Omni Plantation, which is currently blocked by a court injunction of demolishing the Ocean Links Golf Course, issued a statement Wednesday which says the resort is within its rights to convert the 18-hole layout into a green space.

The statement released by Director of Resort Marketing Michelle Valley states the following:

View from the Ocean Links course at Omni Amelia Island

Omni Hotels & Resorts and the Amelia Island Equity Club entered into an agreement with a 99 year term as part of Omni’s acquisition of the Amelia Island resort assets out of bankruptcy in September, 2010. The agreement provides for reciprocal use of amenities between the parties, allowing club members to use resort amenities (golf, tennis, fitness, pool and restaurants) and guests of the resort to play the Long Point course and use the Long Point driving range.

The agreement acknowledges that amenities demanded by resort guests and club members will necessarily change and evolve over the 99 year term of the agreement. Specifically, the agreement gives Omni rights to reconfigure, modify, relocate or replace the resort amenities, including golf, if Omni determines such changes are necessary in its good faith business judgment.

Omni’s business judgment is that current demand for golf is better served by making material improvements to the Oak Marsh course and investing all golf resources into the operation of one quality18-hole course. The Ocean Links course is by far the poorest quality course in Omni’s entire golf portfolio of 21 courses and Omni received many complaints about the quality of the golf layout. Omni believes Ocean Links denigrates the reputation of the resort as a quality golf destination.

The Omni statement also maintains that Ocean Links was not being supported by Amelia Island Club members. It states:

The agreement contemplates that the club would provide 10,000 rounds of golf on the two resort courses, yet the club is providing less than 3,000 rounds per year (with less than 1,000 of those rounds being played on Ocean Links). Golf today is more about quality of the course than quantity of the holes. Maintaining a golf course for less than 1,000 rounds per year of club member play is not sustainable and is not required by the agreement.

The Omni statement said there are no plans to develop the Ocean Links property, stating:

It is also important to communicate what Omni is not going to do with the Ocean Links property. Omni has no plans to develop residential real estate on the Ocean Links property. The only contemplated development is an event lawn on hole number six behind the resort.

Omni has invested over $150 million at Amelia Island and the decisions made by Omni have benefited all stakeholders of the Plantation, in many forms, including increased property values. No one has more at stake in this decision than Omni, and Omni is motivated more than anyone to ensure the Plantation maintains its status as a premier resort community and destination. The decision to close the Ocean Links was made to enhance and improve the status of the Plantation for the benefit of all of its stakeholders.

The Omni began bulldozing the Ocean Links green complexes on Nov. 12, but was stopped two days later following an order by a Nassau County judge. The Amelia Island Club had filed a complaint against The Omni claiming it was in breach of its contract with the club.

The case is scheduled to go before a mediator, however, a date has not be set.

 

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Court halts demolition of Ocean Links Golf Course Injunction blocks Omni from bulldozing greens, bunkers and fairways

By Mike Lednovich, Editor

A Nassau County Judge Friday has blocked the Omni Plantation from continuing to demolish the Ocean Links Golf Course which it began bulldozing last Monday as County deputies stood guard.

“Until this Court dissolves the injunction or modifies this Order, or until the (Amelia Island) Club and the Omni agree otherwise, the Omni is enjoined and restrained from further demolishing or altering the condition of the Ocean Links Golf Course,” the order stated and was signed by Judge Steven Fahlgren.

Attorneys for the 1,400 member Amelia Island Club had filed a complaint against the Omni Plantation saying the closing and demolition of the Ocean Links Golf Course violated the 99-year operating agreement between the resort and the club.

The hole is plowed under

“The Club also has a substantial likelihood of success on the merits in this case. Based upon the allegations in the Verified Complaint it appears that the Omni is in breach of the Agreement,” the order stated. “This injunction will also serve the public interest. Preserving the status quo will protect the rights of the Club, its members, and any other individuals owning homes adjacent to the Ocean Links Golf Course. And it does not appear that the Omni will suffer any harm if its efforts to convert a golf course into green space are delayed.”

Numerous green complexes, particularly those adjacent to the ocean, have been destroyed and leveled by bulldozers.

The court said the Omni’s actions has already caused damage to Amelia Island Club members.

“The Club will be irreparably harmed if the Omni continues demolishing the Ocean Links Golf Course, and (ii) there is no remedy at law for the Club’s loss. Each day during which demolition continues will exacerbate the condition of the Ocean Links Golf Course. It appears that this will make it more difficult to restore the course to the condition described in Exhibit D to the Agreement. And until the course is restored, the Club and its members are deprived of valuable real property rights that cannot be quantified,” the court stated.

View from the Ocean Links course at Omni Amelia Island

The court said the Parties (the Omni and the Amelia Island Club) had acknowledged and agreed that it is the intention of the Parties to allow continued usage of all the Resort Amenities and Club Amenities for the benefit of the [Omni], the Club, its Members and Member Guests accompanying Club Members, pursuant to the terms of this Agreement. The Agreement’s definition of “Resort Amenities” expressly includes the “Ocean Links Golf Course”

The agreement, established in 2010, also stated “The Omni agreed to operate Ocean Links course with general maintenance and operations standards of comparable first class semi-private golf courses of similar age, circumstances and with comparable resort golf fees located on the southeastern seaboard of the United States.”

The court noted that the Omni had breached its agreement with the Amelia Island Club by:

  • Not maintaining and operating the Ocean Links Golf Course in accordance with the standards identified in  the Agreement.
  • Undertaking to destroy the Ocean Links Golf Course; and
  • Not providing the Club members two 18-hole championship level golf courses.

The next step is for the Omni and Amelia Island Club to meet with a mediator.

The Omni had begun demolition of Ocean Links unannounced to the public, saying it was converting the property into green space and committing its golf resource to its other 18-hole course Oak Marsh.

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Money talks, bye, bye Omni Ocean Links Course Amelia Island

View from the Ocean Links course at Omni Amelia Island

Looks like the Omni Plantation on Amelia Island wants more tourists and less golf. Bulldozers were out Tuesday scraping away holes on the Ocean Links Golf Course adjacent to the beach.

According to Facebook community speculation, the golf course is going to be replaced by condominiums. The Omni won’t discuss its plans for the property.

Either way, the mighty dollar wins again.

All internet links to Ocean Links Golf Course including GolfNow were disabled.

Ocean Links was a 4 star (Golf Digest) Bobby Weed design and is one of two championship courses at Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort. Of these 36 holes, 27 are the original 1974 designs by Pete Dye, and the remaining nine that round out Ocean Links were added by Weed in 1998.

With the demise of Ocean Links, Amelia Island now has just The Golf Club of Amelia Island, Amelia River Golf Club, the city owned Fernandina Golf Club, the private Long Point Golf Course and the Oak Marsh Course at the Omni Plantation.

The Facebook community page includes one Omni Plantation resident who claims the project was rejected by home/condo owners and they have now hired attorneys.

“I am a homeowner at Windsong Villas, our unit sits between Ocean Links and Long Point. We are also members at the Ocean Club. This just happened on Monday Morning without notice, we voted not to close courses,” said Kim Strain Mills on Facebook.  “I have been coming to the Plantation since 1978 and hate seeing what the Omni has done. I understand change and things must be done in order to make profits, but this is unbelievable.”

The hole is plowed under /photo by Justin Carroll

The Omni says it will redirect its golf resources to the Oak Marsh Course.

The Omni issued this statement: “As of November 12, 2017, Omni Hotels & Resorts has closed Ocean Links golf course and will repurpose that land into green space to enable all golf resources to be dedicated to enhancing the Oak Marsh golfing experience. We are pleased to share some already-noticeable improvements on Oak Marsh including the renovation of all bunkers, restoration and resurfacing of all coquina areas, replacement of the bridges on holes 15 and 17, and replacement and restoration of all bulkheads.”

The statement makes no comment on the Ocean Links property.

“At this time we are unable to discuss this matter in detail, so we will not be able to respond to your spe cific inquiries,” said Michelle Valle, Director of Resort Marketing Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort.

Emily Schoenle-Grable said on Facebook “More money in condos than golf course I guess – money talks!!!”

Residents said they have hired attorneys and are seeking an injunction to stop the project.

‘This is maddening at best . Money talks for sure . They are violating an agreement with the property owners in bulldozing this course,” said Anne Ziegler in a comment to Gator Golf Magazine.  “And for green space? Please, they are going to do whatever makes them the most money and who cares about the rest . Lies, lies and more lies . Boycotting spending money at Omni. So disappointing!!”

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