Ten golf courses in dire straits

The economy has improved and many golf courses are feeling better about the future. But some are still struggling. Here is our recap of 10 that are dead or dying. 

1. Nick Faldo’s first golf course in Vietnam, Ocean Dunes Golf Club, is no more. It was purchased by Rang Dong Group, the owner of the nearby Sea Links resort community.

“This is a real shame,” according to GolfAsian, because it leaves the area with just one golf course, the Ron Fream-designed track at Sea Links. Ocean Dunes had operated since 1996. Anyone who wishes to experience a Faldo design in Vietnam must now visit Laguna Lăng Cô Golf Club, a year-old venue outside Hue.

2. Eastern Hills Country Club, a bankrupt venue in suburban Dallas, Texas, will likely be sold later this month. The bidding for the 154-acre property is expected to start at $4 million, an amount that would easily cover the club’s $2.4 million in debts.

Eastern Hills features an 18-hole, Ralph Plummer-designed course that opened in 1954. It was shuttered in January, and the Realtor handling the sale told the Dallas Morning News that it’s “not viable to continue as a country club.” Most residents in the accompanying community expect houses to emerge on the fairways.

3. If they don’t soon settle their tax debt, the owners of a high-end private venue in Sandpoint, Idaho risk losing their Jack Nicklaus “signature” golf course.

Pend Oreille Bonner Development, the owner the Idaho Club, reportedly owes Bonner County $1.4 million in unpaid taxes for the three-year period beginning in 2008 plus additional money for taxes owed since 2011. Pend Oreille has until mid May to resolve matters with the county. If it can’t, the county can initiate an auction of the golf club and 200 remaining residential lots.

Nicklaus’ course at the Idaho Club is a massive redesign of a public track that opened in 1985, as Hidden Lakes Golf Club.

4. A residential developer in Dublin, Ohio has its eyes on Riviera Golf Club. Davidson Phillips, Inc. aims to build 284 single-family houses on Riviera’s 168-acre property, which is located within a stone’s throw of Jack Nicklaus’ Country Club at Muirfield Village.

Davidson Phillips and the club’s owner, the American Italian Golf Association, have been negotiating a sale since 2012. The transaction won’t be completed without a successful rezoning of the property, which has served as the club’s home since 1970.

Both the buyer and seller expect the club to operate through the 2014 season.

5. Just months after its operator abruptly departed, a well-regarded municipal golf course in the Amman Valley of Wales is trying to map out its future.

Garnant Golf Club has been on shaky financial ground for years, and its owner, the Carmarthenshire County Council, has been forced to cover more than £200,000 ($333,000) worth of losses since 2011. In January, the venue’s operator, an affiliate of Wrexham-based Clay’s Golf, announced that it had “unfortunately ran out of cash” and abandoned the remaining years on its 25-year lease.

The course’s future is up in the air, and the South Wales Guardian reports that the council is weighing “a number” of options, including a takeover bid from club members.

Top 100 Golf Courses of the World calls the 17-year-old course, a Roger Jones design, “one of the best municipal golfing facilities in Wales.”

6. A homeowners’ group in Louisville, Kentucky has concluded that it can live without its 18-hole golf course. The Indian Springs Community Association plans to convert its 20-year-old, Kingsley Stratton-designed track to open space. The association acquired the course just months ago, in exchange for dropping its opposition to development plans proposed by its former owner.

“We would’ve loved to have kept it as a golf course,” the association’s president told the Louisville Courier-Journal. “That was our original intention, but it just isn’t financially viable.”

The course, which the developers said was losing about $400,000 a year, was closed in February.

7. City officials in Kent, Washington have unanimously voted to rid themselves of a financial headache: their nine-hole, par-3 golf course.

“I’m not going to trade police or street repairs for a golf course that is supposed to be sustaining itself and should be sustaining itself,” a councilmember explained to the Kent Reporter after the vote.

The newspaper says that the nearly 60-year-old layout offers “stunning views of Mount Rainier,” and local developers think it’s an ideal spot for apartments, a hotel and a collection of stores. The track is part of the Riverbend Golf Complex, whose 18-hole course will be maintained and outfitted with a set of forward tees.

Riverbend reportedly loses about $300,000 a year, has accumulated $2.6 million in debt and needs more than $6 million worth of capital improvements. The city believes a developer will cough up at least $8 million for the land occupied by the par-3 course.

8. This year’s golf season may be the swan song for a 67-year-old venue in Liverpool, New York. Richard and Ron Ajemian, the co-owners of Liverpool Public Golf & Country Club, have reportedly accepted a purchase offer from a local developer. The developer has until the end of October to close on the transaction. The Ajemians, the sons of the course’s original owner, believe the purchaser wants to build houses on the property.

9. L. B. Wilson, the operator of three golf properties in North Carolina, has turned out the lights at his financially stressed golf course in Hope Mills.

“I can’t afford to keep it up,” he told the Fayette Observer.

Hope Mills Golf Club opened in the 1930s, and the Observer identifies its 18-hole track as “the oldest golf course in Cumberland County.”

Wilson plans to continue operating Sandy Ridge Golf Club in Dunn, a venue he opened in 1989, but he’s put Greensbridge Golf Course, in Garland, on the market. “I’m trying to cut down to where I have only one course to look after,” he said.

Wilson predicts that Hope Mills will “never be a golf course again,” largely because the city owns much of the property.

10. Government officials in Royal Oak, Michigan appear eager to pull the plug on Normandy Oaks Golf Course.

The nine-hole, privately managed track attracted only 9,839 rounds last year, less than half the number played at the city’s other nine-hole course. Royal Oak’s city manager believes golf is a dying sport and thinks the Normandy Oaks property could bring $14 million or more on the open market – enough to fund the construction of several recreational items on the city’s wish list.

“There is probably the potential to bring in from its sale enough to complete everything in our parks and recreation master plan,” he told the Royal Oak Patch.

If the city manager’s comment sounds like a volley in a public-relations battle, maybe it’s because the course can’t be sold without approval from the city’s voters.


I worked at ODGC in 2011-12 as Director of Golf and it ashame to hear that they have closed it down...

Add new comment

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.
If you enjoyed this article and would like to sign up for a FREE digital subscription, click here!