UPPER FREEHOLDÃ‚Â Dashing the hopes of golfers looking to take advantage of unseasonably warm conditions, the state-owned Cream Ridge Golf Course along Route 539 has been temporarily closed by the state Department of Environmental Protection.
The DEP hopes to reopen the course with a new operator sometime this winter, according to a posting on the agency’s website.
The closure came after a dispute between two private companies over competing bids to manage the course. The fight over the bids continued as the previous contract held by Cream Ridge Golf Club lapsed on New Year’s Day, DEP Spokesman Larry Ragonese said.
Atlantic Golf Management was the first choice of the DEP to operate the golf course, but the second-place bidder, Meticulous Landscaping, challenged Atlantic’s submission, arguing its competitor failed to comply with the financial reporting standards of the DEP’s request, Ragonese said.
“The challenge is currently in litigation, but we are hoping to reopen Cream Ridge in the very near future,” Spokesman Larry Ragonese said.
The course was acquired by the DEP in 2006 through the Green Acres Program, a program for the preservation of open space. The agency owns four golf courses in the state.
The initial term of the operating contract for Cream Ridge is six years, with the option of renewing for a longer second term of 14 years, subject to capital improvements being made during the first term, according to an August announcement from the DEP.
As the dispute between the companies in December drew closer to Jan. 1, the DEP asked the previous operator, Cream Ridge Golf Club, to step in and manage the course on a monthly basis in order to keep the links open.
Cream Ridge Golf Club, which also bid for the disputed contract, turned down the offer, leading to the temporary closure of the club.
“We closed the course, and posted signs,” Ragonese said. “But we’ve had some trouble with people taking away the signs.”
The course’s restaurant, Greens CafÃƒÂ© is not closed, but may be operating at restricted hours during the winter months, according to an announcement on the DEP’s website.
Golfers can still tee off at Spring Meadow Golf Course in Wall Township, the second public golf course owned by the DEP in Monmouth County.
Contact Joshua Rosenau at (609) 989-5707 or email@example.com.