By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
WHILE the government has made a decision to close down all web shops as a result of the referendum, FLM Group of Companies proprietor Craig Flowers said he is still committed to completing the three-par nine hole golf course at the Baillou Hills Sporting Complex.
Flowers, an avid golfer, has taken on the responsibility of extending the driving range at the complex into a mini golf course to assist in providing an alternative site for local golfers, particularly the junior players, to further improve their skills in the game. The course, which is estimated to cost just under $4 million, is about 3/4 completed.
Having heard an overwhelming “no” vote from the two questioned on the referendum posed to the Bahamian public on Monday: “Do you support the regulation and taxation of Web Shop gaming?” and “Do you support the Establishment of a National Lottery?”, Flowers said he was disappointed, but but not in the least perturbed from his goal.
“I’m about two thirds completed. I have another shipment of grass to bring in just to do the detailing and the refining,” said Flowers, who has spearheaded the construction project. “The main thing right now is the irrigation system and I want to get started on that next week.
“We’re using our temporary irrigation system right now, which has been surfacing in the development of the building of the course, but with maintaining it and manicuring it, you have to put in the proper irrigation system underground. So that’s our biggest task.”
Using the funds he derived from his business empire, Flowers said he’s been pushing the project on a consistent basis as it’s available and with the expected closure of his 14 shops, he expect a shift in his resources, thus taking it a little longer than anticipated to be completed.
“But certainly by no means, I’m not abandoning it,” Flowers said. “I just have to do a little more micro management of the funds.”
Originally when he took on the project, Flowers said he had envisioned that it would cost just under $4 million to be completed. At this stage in the construction phrase, Flowers said he’s spent between $2.6 and $3 million. But he said it’s not so much building the golf course, but actually maintaining it.
“The necessary equipment for maintaining it, if we have to buy new equipment to maintain it, that’s another figure,” he said. “To maintain the golf course, the figures will be totally different because as I build, I have to maintain. How long it will take t maintain before I officially turn this over to the government and the National Sports Authority is going to be a challenge for me.
“While I’m building, I have to be maintaining and maintaining and manicuring the golf course is where the cost will increase. If I’m just talking about building it, it’s one cost. If I’m talking about maintaining it, it’s another cost and that was really not in my budget to build.
“But you have to throw in this contingency for maintenance, so this is a different picture. I’m hoping this maintenance doesn’t take a long time before government get their people in there to be able to maintain the golf course in the manner that I will be handing it to them,” he added.
In addition to the construction of the golf course, Flowers said he will also continue to support the majority of the sporting bodies that they have assisted over the last few years, but he may have to cut back on the donations that he has given in the past.
“Sports has always been my biggest attraction,” he said. “Even though I have supported sports, the hurricane relief and other social ills have received some assistance for us, but the donation for sports will continue because I have always been sports minded.
“The funding for them are going to be very limited because I don’t think that I will be able to maintain them at the rate that I’ve done in the past. I’ve already spoken with Mike Sands in relations to some other commitments that we would have made to them. It’s still premature at this stage, but we would like to live up to the 2013 commitment that we have made.”