PORT ORCHARD — Village Greens Golf Course appears to have birdied its final hole from the rough, enabling it to open in time for summer, with the help of golf pro and golf course owner Joe Perdue.
Perdue, who grew up in South Kitsap and took his first golf lesson at Village Greens in 1966, said he expects to sign a lease contract to take over golf course operations when he met with Jim Dunwiddie, Kitsap County Parks Department’s director.
Perdue and Dunwiddie will appear at a public hearing at 11 a.m. on Wednesday in the Kitsap County Commissioners chambers to get input on the 10-year lease proposal of the golf course facility, which is county property.
Perdue said he was drawn to enter negotiations to take over operations of the golf course when he read that Village Greens was closing.
“It’s a unique executive golf course and a great place for beginners to play,” he said. “No other course in Kitsap County is like it. But Village Greens also is challenging for even experienced golfers, so anyone — golfers at any skill level — enjoy playing it.”
The facility — with 14 par-3 holes and four par-4 holes — also has an excellent driving range, which he said is a great place for golfers to practice. Perdue said he wants to reinvigorate community interest in learning to golf, particularly among young people. Orchard Heights Elementary and two other schools border the property, which provides an opportunity for the new operator to strengthen the course’s ties to the “First Tee” golf teaching program in the classroom.
At the other end of the age spectrum, Perdue said he plans to bring back a senior golf league that had figured so prominently in Village Greens’ history. He said much of his marketing program will reach out to entice families.
“Families are looking for ways to spend uninterrupted time together, and playing together is a great way to do that.”
The new operator expects to make some changes to Village Greens’ fee schedule. The daily rate will be $20 for 18 holes of golf, including tax. The course also will offer senior, youth and military rates. The monthly rate, he added, will be reduced and an annual rate will be introduced.
And, most significantly, the golf course will be open seven days a week, 12 months a year. It currently is closed over the winter months.
Perdue, who has extensive experience as a golf club fitter and was the national Mizuno Golf Fitter of the Year several years ago, will offer the service at Village Greens.
For now, while Perdue wraps up lease negotiations this week, he also is taking a close look at the condition of the golf course, particularly that of the greens. The par-3 and -4 course, with holes of between 108 to 227 yards, was recently mowed after lying fallow during the winter. He acknowledged that the greens will be “a little rough around the edges,” but in time they will be brought back to prime playing condition.
“I have no doubt we’ll make a success of this [course].”
A new amenity he plans to offer golfers will be four golf boards, which is a combination of an electronic snowboard and golf cart that allows a user to travel the course by maneuvering it while standing on the device, with the golfer’s clubs perched in front.
The municipal golf course, owned by Kitsap County since 2009 after longtime manager Doug Hathaway left, has been the subject of negotiations between Perdue and Dunwiddie since the parks director announced in late March that the facility would be closed permanently. Dunwiddie said the golf course had been a financial drain on the parks department’s budget and had registered financial deficits every year the county has operated the course.
The parks director said in 2018, Village Greens finished with a deficit of $122,000 after recording 9,600 rounds of golf played. Dunwiddie said the golf course’s performance mirrored that of other golf courses locally and nationally.
Perdue said May 21 that he plans to aggressively market the leased facility to the South Kitsap community after he takes over operations. While negotiations are continuing over a few last-minute elements, he doesn’t foresee anything to delay an agreement being reached in the next day or two.
A course management pro
The soon-to-be new operator is a veteran of the golf business who knows the Port Orchard executive course quite well. He began his golfing career in October 1982 as an assistant golf pro at Village Greens.
“I go way back with the place,” Perdue said, “so it’s personal with me. And it’s too valuable of a community asset to go away. It’s important for it to stay open.”
In 1985, he moved over to become golf pro and head greens superintendent at the former Clover Valley Country Club on Sedgwick Road in South Kitsap — now is a botanical garden.
“I didn’t have a clue what I was doing back then,” he said, “but I learned on the fly. It was a good experience.”
Perdue also has worked as a golf pro at Gold Mountain Golf Club in Bremerton from 1987 to 1999, then for nine years, also as a golf pro, at a golf course in Upper Michigan, near Green Bay.
He’s currently the owner of the 9-hole Hidden Meadows Golf Course in Old Town, Maine, near Bangor, and has operated the facility since 2010. Perdue, who lives in Maine, said he plans to spend one week a month in Port Orchard and the remainder of his time at the golf course in Maine. But next year, he said, he’ll reverse his schedule by relocating to South Kitsap, then commuting one week each month to Hidden Meadows.
“I’ll be logging some airline miles,” he said with a smile.