In Oregon, American Golf operates Oregon Golf Club in West Linn, Pumpkin Ridge near Banks, and Corvallis Country Club.
American Golf, which owns or operates 96 golf courses across the country, had been leasing and running the clubhouse and other facilities at Persimmon Country Club, Gresham, Ore., since 2004 for its owner, Kenichi Ito, chairman of Itoham Foods of Japan, reports OregonLive.com.
Ito died in February.
When the sale to American Golf closed on Aug. 1., the company promptly announced a reduction in new monthly dues to try to fill the membership. The sale does not affect the 250-unit upscale housing development that sits on three sides of the course. In addition to its clubhouse and banquet facility, Persimmon has a large golf practice area, swimming pool and tennis courts.
In Oregon, American Golf operates three other high-end courses: Oregon Golf Club in West Linn, Pumpkin Ridge near Banks, host of this month’s LPGA Safeway Classic, and Corvallis Country Club.
The Persimmon course was originally the idea of businessman Junki Yoshida of Troutdale, who began assembling property in 1988, including a 250-acre cabbage farm along Southeast Hogan Road. He reached a deal with Ito and Ito’s high school friend and Gresham businessman Hiroshi Morihara in March 1993, and opened the course’s first nine holes seven months later.
Morihara managed the course, along with his other businesses, until May 1999 when he and Ito signed a 15-year lease with American Golf.
Although Persimmon always has been a private club, it has at times allowed public play and access to its restaurant when it needed more business. It went fully private in 2006 when Pleasant Valley Golf Course in Clackamas closed and some 200 of its members joined Persimmon, pushing the Gresham club’s membership to 500. That number took a hit when the economy collapsed in 2008; Persimmon now has 302 members.
Ken Hultz, a regional director of private clubs for American Golf, said although the company has been operating Persimmon for 12 years it can look anew “at every part of the operation” to see what it can improve.
A key to Persimmon’s success will be to get at least 100 new members, Hultz said. To do that American Golf is offering reduced monthly dues. Full member dues have dropped by $53 to $260 a month; limited membership dues have dropped by $34 to $180 a month. Through Sept. 5, Persimmon is waiving the $200 application fee to OGA members.
Hultz said if a current member brings in a new member, then that member will get the new, lower rate. If a new member joins on his own, then the current member with the most seniority will get the new, lower rate.