The 2011 acquisition of the Woodlands Country Club by ClubLink expanded their presence in Florida.

First, ClubLink added six courses in Sun City Center south of Tampa. Then they acquired Heron Bay Golf Club in Coral Springs, and later, Palm Air Golf Course in Pompano Beach. This variety makes ClubLink unique because members have the convenience of reciprocal play at those clubs along with 39 others.

Barbara Sharief

John Finlayson,  Vice President ClubLink U.S. Corp oversees the Florida locations. He is originally from Canada but is now based here to spend his time overseeing Florida operations. He is now a Woodlands resident.

Finlayson wanted to meet and discuss several items, such as golf course improvements, the 44th Street corridor, and the hat-racking of the trees by FPL.

Woodlands was close to closing:

When ClubLink purchased the member-owned Woodlands Country Club in April of 2011, they were close to closing. It was only a few months into the year and they had already run through all of their 2011 dues. There were significant accounts payable and back taxes owed as well. Clublink paid for these as well as funded part of the employees payroll.

Besides the financial issues was the condition of the two 18-hole courses. The golf course superintendent left three weeks before they took over. They discovered that his level of service was incompetent and the conditions of the courses were neglected.

Improvements:

After the sale, the first thing that ClubLink needed to do is get the course condition up to speed. At over $300,000, this accounted for the largest amount of money spent. All of the West Course greens were enlarged and resurfaced and three bridges were rebuilt at a cost of $50,000. Last winter, every bunker on the property was redone.

“We are doing a major tee renovation to the West Course where every tee deck will be regarded and re surfaced.” Said Finlayson,” We will also be building a few new tee decks for the Ladies and the Seniors. We will be re-sodding some of the areas around the greens that have become bare and a bit of an eyesore. and we will also be completing the work we started last summer on the fairways. They should be very healthy and lush going into the fall.”

“When we acquired the course they were very thin, and in the winter about 1/3 of each fairway would go dormant. Everyone will notice a significant change to the fairways come this fall.“

The 44th Street Corridor:

As far as the debris, weeds and trailer in the back of the property facing 44th Street, Finlayson said he wasn’t aware of how bad it had become as he rarely went back there. He said that Progressive Turf Management (PTM) who is contracted by ClubLink to oversee maintenance on the golf course, manages that area.

Finlayson knew that when ClubLink purchased the course, they would soon be turning over maintenance of the front entrance and Woodlands Blvd back to the City of Tamarac. He was surprised to find out when the The City of Tamarac told him that ClubLink was now going to be responsible for the grass outside their property along the long stretch of 44th Street.

He spoke to code compliance officer Peyton Whitfield who told him that he would be responsible for mowing the entire strip of land down 44th Street. When brand new palms were planted in that area. We were both curious as to who planted them. With palm trees along the roadway, it would be event more difficult to mow the area.

I contacted the City of Tamarac to see if they planted the palms. They told me it was the City of Lauderhill. Why would the City of Lauderhill plant new trees on the property that belonged to Tamarac?

I contacted Broward County Commissioner Ilene Lieberman, former Mayor of Lauderhill and asked her about that area. She said that whole strip of grass along the North side of 44th Street belonged to Lauderhill and it was them that had been maintaining it for years.

This made perfect sense. It seemed that code compliance wasn’t aware that this land belonged to Lauderhill and would not be the responsibility of ClubLink.

Funding for the palms along the corridor came from the Tree Preservation Fund according to Richard Kaplan, Mayor of Lauderhill. The fund requires the city to receive a fee for each tree cut down that wasn’t replaced. The funds are also used for the Lauderhill Garden Club.

Finlayson was thankful as well as relieved that the area outside ClubLink property was not their responsibility and hopes that the clean up of the area inside the gates will be completed by the end of this week.

“We have now completed all the chainsaw work on the outside of the fence and it looks much better. Hoping to get the weeds on the inside of the fence taken care of as well and the trailer and the tree trimmings.”

Hat-racked Trees

Because of guidelines mandated by the state, trees have to be removed from getting close to electrical wires. Because FPL trims every three years, they made sure that the trees will not grow close to the wires for that that period of time.

Finlayson said that he is upset about the trees on the golf courses being hat-racked. He discovered that FPL did not contact management before proceeding with the trimming, but instead went to the contracted maintenance company, PTM, who had no authority to oversee it.

He agrees that the trees look butchered and believes they took away from the shade and definition of the course. He will be in closer communication with FPL and is hoping that he can have the trees maintained every year, versus every two years.

Future:

Finlayson says they need to add more members in order for the Woodlands Country Club to be viable. At the end of 2011, ClubLink added 170 members. This includes 100 seasonal and 70 local members.

He has many ideas on what he would like to see ClubLink do with the areas of the club that are not being used such as the outside restaurant, pool and tennis courts but says that the changes and investment cannot happen right away.

“We’re optimistic, we have to focus on sound decisions on how we spend our money,” said Finlayson. “Our long term goal is to offer more activities at the club for the community to enjoy. We need to find out what their needs are in the community and if we can meet those needs in a way that offers good value.”

“It’s not going to happen overnight. We want to be responsible and do what’s right.

Author Profile

Sharon Aron Baron
Sharon Aron Baron created the Woodlands Tamarac in 2010 for original News for the community. In 2011 she went on to create Tamarac Talk, in 2012, Coral Springs Talk and 2017, Parkland Talk.
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6 Responses to "Interview With ClubLink’s John Finlayson"

  1. Your views regarding the community are appreciated.
    There is a need for the club to better integrate with the community for their longer term benefit.
    I had been a member of the club for many years and was active in membership planning duing my early years.Lost my passion as the club was self destructing in the last 5 years or so.
    Have rejioined the club this year as a summer mebership with a view to possibly becoming a full term member.
    I have many ideas for community participation and would enjoy sharing them with anyone who might care.

  2. Thank you for that informational article on some important land use issues regarding the Woodlands Country Club Community.
    Dialog with Clublink is critical for the community to feel engaged with the golf course.
    Good lines of communication can dispell rumors and inacurate theries of what is going on in our own backyard!
    Thanks

  3. John, If you have some time, you may want to visit the Coral Ridge Yacht Club, because they have decent entertainment Fri. and Sat. nights. We get invited by friends who are members there, and they get a fair number of customers for Happy Hour and dinner. Entertainment would be a nice attraction for the future. Just a thought.

  4. John how about having a social membership, resonably priced, so Woodlands residents who don’t play golf or need to use the other facilities, but would like to go to the restaurant.We would bring friends, who could be potential members. If you don’t open the club to the residents, then how can they see how elegant it is, and then join. How about an invitation to all Woodlands residents for a few free or half priced drinks and appetizers? What about letting non members have a nice Sunday brunch or Friday night dinner there? We are all willing to pay for the meals. What about celebrating holidays there, like Easter, Christmas, Thanksgiving etc.? Don’t go the same route as the club conducted itself before, you see where that road took it. Just some suggestions that would benefit everyone…

  5. I agree with Michael. They could consider giving Woodlands residents an ID card which would at the very least allow us access to the restaurant. I am not a golfer but would love the option of having dinner at nice restauarant in my “backyard” rather than driving out. It would increase revenue for the Country Club and as Michael says allow us toinvite guests who may want to become full members of the Country Club.

  6. Thank you Shari and I know other residents who feel the way that we do. From the silence that we receive from Clublink, Mr. Funk, Mr. Gordon and now John Finlayson, it seems that our thoughts and concerns are not high on their priority list. There may come a time when they are practically begging us to join, only to met by our silence. The previous club’s ways didn’t help matters, so let’s see if clublink learns from their mistakes. From what I have heard, over 80% of the members are not even residents of the Woodlnads, that says a lot too…

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