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Tee Party

For years, the City of Denver's seven golf courses have watched newer, more challenging venues in the suburbs hook players and put a divot in Denver's bottom line. But now it looks as though the city's courses might finally break par. At the end of last year, former South Suburban Park and Recreation District pro Tom Woodard, well-regarded in Denver's golf community, was chosen to head Denver's often errant golf program. The city's eighth course, at the Green Valley Ranch development near Denver International Airport, is scheduled to break ground in October--news the Denver Post recently heralded with a glowing story that must have come as a breath of fresh air to city officials tired of negative publicity about what's missing at their links.

No matter which way the wind is blowing, though, certain well-connected individuals always seem to land their shots close to the pin when it comes to Denver's golf expenditures. Welcome to Westword's Municipal Pro Tour, a roundup of the elite players who, through consulting contracts, construction deals and political savvy, have consistently benefited from--or caused--controversy on the links. Fore, suckers!

Name: Jim Monaghan
Day job: Political consultant
Scouting report: Helped guide his pal Mayor Wellington Webb to re-election in 1995 but often finds himself teeing it up on opposite sides of the same issue: The big man once represented both the city and the Anschutz Corporation--at the time a partner of the Denver Nuggets--over negotiations for a new Pepsi Center arena.

Tour highlights: Officially joined the tour in 1995, when chosen by Denver parks boss B.J. Brooks and her consultant, Richard M. Daniel, to head a $57,000 Golf Course Study on why Denver's courses were losing so much money. At the time, Monaghan and Associates had worked with a few golf subcontractors but had no golf experience itself. The firm's hiring raised the hackles of many in Denver's golf community, who charged that the appointment smacked of political cronyism and that the selection process had been rushed. When the study was completed last year, its principal conclusion was that Denver should raise greens fees to generate additional revenue--a self-evident solution most local hackers had figured out long before the study was even commissioned.

Handicap: Takes big slices; because of physical heft, may have trouble squeezing into standard-sized golf cart.

Clubhouse comments (from employee David Kenney in December 1995): "He happens to be friends with the governor and friends with the mayor, but should that stop us from doing work in our hometown?"

Name: Richard M. Daniel
Day job: All-purpose consultant to city hall
Scouting report: Minority contractor has scored numerous holes-in-one with city contracts, though often in the sandtrap financially.

Tour highlights: Has long working relationship with the city, which has done its best to keep him employed over the last few years despite a string of lawsuits from his creditors and a delinquent tax debt to the city itself that went unpaid for four years. In 1995 Daniel received an $1,800 contract from the city to recommend a candidate for the Golf Course Study. He recommended Monaghan and Associates, thus completing a daisy chain in which the city hired a consultant to tell it which consultant to hire to tell it how to do its job. In March 1996 Daniel was awarded a $17,200 contract to develop requests for proposals for Green Valley. The first two RFPs landed in the rough, drawing exactly zero proposals. In October 1996 Daniel got a $7,300 contract to help the city choose concessionaires for the City Park, Willis Case and Evergreen golf courses. The upshot: No one was chosen, and the RFPs had to be extended for a year.

Handicap: Financial wizard once bounced two checks to a parking-lot owner for a sum total of $6.75.

Clubhouse comments: "It's hard for me to believe I'm the only person doing business for the city who's gone through financial difficulties."

Name: Willie Kellum
Day job: Owner of Duncan's Men's Store in Five Points
Scouting report: Clothier cuts dapper figure on course; recently named to team put together by longtime local golf-course operator Stacey Hart that won the Green Valley Ranch contract. Actual golf function, however, remains unclear: Will he provide the Izods?

Tour highlights: Longtime playing partner of Webb, who in 1994 pressured city council to approve his pal's involvement in a partnership put together by Atlanta businessman Dan Paradies to run a string of gift shops at DIA. Webb intervened even though Kellum was reportedly $300,000 in debt and delinquent on a city loan at the time; Paradies was later forced out after being convicted in an unrelated mail-fraud case. Earlier this year, Kellum and former Denver district attorney Norm Early tried to get the contract to run the City Park Golf Course. When that effort landed in the water, Kellum chipped back onto the green as part of Stacey Hart's Green Valley team. In a summary of his proposal, Hart indicated that Kellum would perform "facility management services" and that he had more than twenty years of "golf and retail experience." But it also helps that he knows a few people. Hart adds in his proposal that Kellum's "ties to the local business community--both minority and mainstream--will assist in identifying local vendors and contractors."

Handicap: Kellum and Early's bid on City Park job rejected after they failed to register with the city as a minority business enterprise.

Clubhouse comments (from the city's Woodard, explaining why Kellum appears on Hart's team): "He's certified [as a minority contractor], an avid golfer and a good friend of Stacey Hart's."

Name: Bill Roberts
Day job: Politician turned constructioncontractor
Scouting report: Former Denver city councilman and manager of public works; good at spotting diamonds in the rough.

Tour highlights: Influential former pol shows up as part of Hart's Green Valley team in what amounts to old-home week for the ex-councilman. In an April letter to Hart, he wrote, "I had the honor of being the first councilman to represent Montbello and Green Valley Ranch, and I was the councilman when we made the decision to ask the people of Denver to provide the funds for a golf course in this area." Now his construction company will have the honor of erecting the course's clubhouse and other buildings.

Handicap: Had to wait until he was out of office to compete for city contracts.

Clubhouse comments: "When I was a public official, I never envisioned that one day I'd be off the council and I'd build it. How could I ever envision that?"

Name: Perry Dye
Day job: President of Dye Design, an experienced golf-course planning company

Scouting report: Son of famous golf-course designer Dale Dye.
Tour highlights: Has designed courses in America, Europe and Japan. Named as a subcontractor to the original Monaghan study team in 1995; in 1997 was chosen as part of Hart's Green Valley crew, even though at one point Hart tried to replace him with another architect. That effort failed after Woodard and other city officials flew to Minneapolis to inspect a course designed by Hart's preferred architect. The city crew wasn't impressed with what it saw and urged that Dye be brought back on. He was.

Handicap: Rick Randall, who runs a rival golf-course design company in Denver, suggests Dye is not above taking credit for courses built by his father.

Clubhouse comments (from 1995): "To say municipal golf is not political is to deny reality."

Name: Stacey Hart
Day job: Golf-course operator and concessionaire; former pro golfer
Scouting report: Known for innovative shot selection.

Tour highlights: Stacey and his brother Scott were onetime pros on the PGA Tour, and both have gone on to local success. Scott is now head pro at Wellshire Golf Course, while Stacey operates Kennedy Golf Course. Pending city council approval, Hart's hand-picked team of Roberts, Dye and Kellum will build and operate Green Valley Ranch--and also get to manage the Evergreen Golf Course. That last job wasn't part of the RFP for Green Valley, but Hart and company asked the city if they could have it, and the city said yes. Critics contend that Hart and his pals shouldn't have been allowed to piggyback Evergreen onto their proposal. But Woodard says Hart was just quicker to the green. "When we sent out that term sheet, what we asked the proposers to do was to be innovative, because we knew somebody was going to have to come to the table with a lot of money," he says.

Handicap: Had chased the Evergreen concession before, but two previous proposals for that and the Willis Case concession--proposals that didn't include Roberts, Dye or Kellum (a coincidence, according to the city)--were deemed "unacceptable" by city golf officials.

Clubhouse comments (from Rick Randall, whose company, RBI Golf, thought it had the Green Valley Ranch bid in the bag until it lost out to Hart's group): "I think politics took over. To say the least, we were disappointed, especially after we'd been told it's a slam dunk."

Name: B.J. Brooks
Day job: Manager of Denver Parks and Recreation
Scouting report: Streaky player; known to double as Webb's caddy.

Tour highlights: Hired Monaghan to head up the Golf Course Study in '95; was a member of the Golf Course Selection Committee that recommended the Hart group for Green Valley Ranch.

Handicap: Golfing habits unknown, but definitely a big baseball fan. She was busted on camera earlier this year by Channel 4 reporter Brian Maass for using her official city parking pass to park free in a private parking lot while attending a Rockies game at Coors Field. When Maass asked if her Mercedes with personalized "B.J." plates was really on official city business, Brooks claimed she was at the ballpark to inspect "the whole package" at Coors Field--which is not owned by the city.

Clubhouse comments (referring to the $17,000 difference between Monaghan's bid and that of the low bidder for the 1995 Golf Course Study): "We're not talking about a lot of money; we're talking peanuts."

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