Schenectady’s new golf pro will be paid far less than his predecessor, who was fired after a disagreement over compensation.
Matthew Daley will be paid $65,000, plus benefits, and will share the profits of his lessons at the Schenectady Municipal Golf Course. He will not receive any other compensation.
Daley is also moving to Schenectady to fulfill Mayor Gary McCarthy’s goal of only hiring employees who live in the city.
The hiring ends a long controversy in which the former pro, Brian Damon, was once paid more than anyone else in city government. He was allowed to keep all profits from the driving range, golf cart rentals, pro shop and lessons, as well as being paid by the city.
In 2010, city officials said Damon collected $300,000 in cart rentals, about $200,000 in driving range fees and $16,000 in city pay, as well as income from lessons and pro shop items. Damon disputed the figures and argued that his maintenance costs were so high that he was left with only $30,000 in total profit.
But when the City Council offered him $85,000 plus benefits in 2011, while removing the rental cart and driving range income, he protested. He began a behind-the-scenes campaign for a raise, but was rejected by council members who had denied raises for the entire workforce.
He stayed on the job for another year and a half, but became increasingly bitter, according to a resignation letter he wrote after McCarthy fired him.
“I’ve reached a level of stress, even in the offseason, which has made it difficult to focus on simple tasks and to maintain the high standards that I implemented from 2005-2010,” Damon wrote.
He added that he made so little money under the new system that he could not pay the vendors who stocked his pro shop.
The city will now run that shop, putting an end to a practice in which Damon would require all tournaments to include a $5 fee for the pro shop. Each entrant would be allowed to spend that $5 in the shop, but since almost everything in the shop costs more than $5, Damon usually made a profit.
Details about the new pro shop have not yet been finalized.
City officials also expect to set new lesson rates on Monday. The assistant golf pro — who has not yet been hired — and Daley will charge the same rates for lessons, and both will give a portion of each payment to the city.
Daley will also begin catching up on months of work on the golf course schedule. Normally, the pro spends the winter setting up tournaments and other events, McCarthy added.
“If you do this right, you’ve got to have somebody recruiting the leagues, the events, so we have the full level of activity we want there,” McCarthy said.
Daley is familiar with Schenectady Muni. He worked there as an assistant pro for nine years before moving on to several other golf courses. For the last five years, he has worked at Mohawk Golf Club in Schenectady.
McCarthy said Daley’s familiarity with the course was a major reason for choosing him over others who applied.
“With Matt’s experience and knowledge of the course and the folks that frequent Muni, I believe Matt is the right fit for this position,” McCarthy said in a news release. “I am confident that he will improve the user-friendliness and continue the tradition of great golf at affordable prices at our regionally recognized golf course.”