Changes Coming To Miacomet Golf As Costa Prepares To Sell Management Company

Changes are coming to the Miacomet Golf, where longtime general manager Al Costa is planning his exit from the island’s only public 18-hole course and selling his management company to Matt Galvin, the owner of Morningstar Golf and Hospitality.

The Nantucket Land Bank, which owns the Miacomet Golf Course, has contracted with Costa’s company, Nantucket Golf Management, for the past 13 years to operate the popular course along the island’s south shore. With that contract coming to an end this month, the Land Bank recently put out a request for proposals seeking bidders to run Miacomet. 

Costa’s company was the only bidder for the contract, and the Land Bank is expected to sign a new three-year deal with Nantucket Golf Management next week. During an interview with the elected Land Bank commissioners Tuesday, Costa said he intends to sell his shares of Nantucket Golf Management to Galvin, and that he will stay on as a consultant with Morningstar to assist with the transition. Miacomet’s current general manager under Costa’s company, Sean Oberly, would become a vice president with Morningstar and run the day-to-day operations of the golf course moving forward.

“There’s a lot of emotion on my behalf in terms of phasing out of Miacomet over the next three years,” Costa said Tuesday. “It’s been a big part of my life and it’s important to me. I would never jeopardize the future of Miacomet. It wasn’t a haphazard goal on my part; it was talked about for a number of years.”

The Land Bank’s executive director Jesse Bell and executive assistant Eleanor Antonietti said the terms of the contract and the fee the Land Bank will pay to Nantucket Golf Management and eventually Morningstar to operate the course could not be disclosed until the evaluation process is complete. 

Galvin, who was also in attendance at Tuesday’s meeting, said he will close on the acquisition of Nantucket Golf Management in January 2022. He and Costa have known each other for more than 20 years, having attended many of the same golf management conferences and events. Galvin’s Morningstar Golf and Hospitality, which is based in New Jersey, owns and manages numerous public and private golf courses and clubs in the U.S. and overseas, including the London Golf Club. 

“I’m not a golfer,” Galvin said. “I play three times per year. I’m terrible. But I love the business and I love the people in it. I’ve visited thousands of courses and only played about 90 of them. What we’ve proposed is I will be acquiring the shares of Nantucket Golf Management Inc. from Al. Al would be a consultant who we would pay out of the management fee we charge to the Land Bank. My goal is to make you guys forget about him and do such a great job you’ll say ‘Al who?’ But Al would be heavily involved in the first year, and less involved in the second and third.”

Miacomet Golf was scrutinized by the Land Bank Commission earlier this year after it was discovered that Costa and its management team had been granting certain groups of players advanced, preferential tee times. The Land Bank voted unanimously in September to end that practice. Galvin said access to the course was probably the number one issue he would face when he takes over from Costa next year. 

“If this was off-island and a privately owned course, and my issue was too much demand for certain times, the market answer to that is you raise your prices, your membership prices or greens fees,” Galvin said. “The problem Nantucket has is that for half your population, price is not an issue. The other half are local year-round residents who don’t’ want to get priced out because Wayne Huizenga is happy to own three memberships. So how do you deal with that? To give everyone equal access, you could eliminate memberships entirely. It’s a public course and everyone has the same rights to book tee times and everyone has a fair shake to book it. So the number one challenge will be the tee time, access question. The other challenges are the same everywhere: staffing staffing staffing.”

Nantucket Land Bank Commission chair Neil Paterson said Tuesday that he was optimistic regarding the transition from Costa to Galvin, given the experience he brings to the table and the manner in which he has interacted with the commission so far. Was he surprised the Land Bank’s request for proposals generated no bids other than the current management company? 

“No, not really, “Paterson said. “Al does a really good job overall. He’s there at 5 a.m. everyday. People recognize that it would be pretty hard for someone to come in to Nantucket. The golf industry is pretty small and people realize that no one else is going to get it. We all want local control, but this guy seems to check all the boxes. I’m very optimistic that this is going to be very successful for Nantucket.”

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