Green Tree Golf Club in Vacaville, Calif., is closing its doors after 55 years, citing financial issues. In Salem Ore., Creekside Golf Club could close and be sold to a devloper, unless a bordering homeowners association either buys the club or each homeowner becomes a member.
Green Tree Golf Club in Vacaville, Calif., which has been in business for 55 years, is closing its doors, the Sacramento CBS affiliate reported.
Owners issued a statement citing financial issues as the reason for closing the 27-hole course. They blame the lack of golfers at the course on the Americans’ overall declining interest in the game, CBS reported.
“We are very saddened about the necessary closure of Green Tree Golf Club. We care deeply about the course, its employees and the community but the time has come for us to close operations,” said Jim Syar, whose family owns the course.
Green Tree Golf Club opened in the early 1960’s and has remained in the Syar family. Owners say at one point the course hosted 110,000 rounds of golf per year, but today it averages just over 30,000 rounds, CBS reported.
After years of losing money, Creekside Golf Club in Salem, Ore., has issued an ultimatum to a bordering homeowners association: Buy us out or collect memberships from each homeowner. Otherwise, the club will be shut down and sold, possibly to a residential housing developer, the Salem-based Statesman Journal reported.
Creekside Golf Club and Creekside Estates were created by the same developer, but otherwise have no legal or financial connection. But Tom Whitaker, the golf club’s new co-owner and General Manager, thinks that needs to change, the Statesman Journal reported.
“To preserve the golf course, we will need to create a partnership between Creekside Golf Club and the Creekside Homeowners Association,” Whitaker wrote in a February 16 letter to members of the Creekside Homeowners Association. “Without long-term support from the neighborhood, we will need to sell the property.”
In the letter, Whitaker laid out three options for homeowners:
Option one: Increase homeowner association dues by $60 per month ($30 for unimproved lots). In exchange, each household would receive a social membership. With 588 lots, most of them improved, the deal could raise as much as $400,000 per year for the club, depending on how many homeowners already are club members. In an interview Wednesday, Whitaker said he doesn’t know how many homeowners belong to the club, the Statesman Journal reported.
Whitaker said existing, full-price club members—about 400 across all membership categories—have been informed of the offer to homeowners and are fine with it. “The HOA can be the hero in saving the club,” he said. “They deserve more than a normal member would get.”
Option two: Purchase the golf course and facilities at fair market value, to be determined by a professional appraiser. Creekside Golf Club would carry the note and trust deed for seven years.
During that time, the balance due would be reduced by a “transfer fee” assessed on homes sold in the neighborhood. The fee would be $15,000 for homes abutting the golf course, and $8,500 for homes elsewhere in the neighborhood. Whitaker said no appraisal has been done at this point and there is no estimate of the purchase price. The Marion County Assessor’s Office values the property alone at $2.9 million, the Statesman Journal reported.
Option three: Do nothing.
“If homeowners do not support the continuance of the Golf Club, then the course and club will be shut down, sold to a third party,” Whitaker wrote in his letter.
Residents have until March 1 to respond. If 30% of those responding choose either of the first two options, the homeowners association will take a vote at a special meeting in March, the Statesman Journal reported.
The 153-acre, 18-hole golf course was built in 1993. It was designed by touring golf professional Peter Jacobsen. Whitaker is a one-third owner of the golf club, along with Salem developer Larry Tokarski’s Mountain West Investments and Terry Kelly, a former partner in Pence/Kelly Construction Inc. Kelly had purchased the club in 2002, the Statesman Journal reported.
The new partnership, called Creekside Golf Operations, took over the club in March 2015, Whitaker said. It has spent $1.2 million renovating the facilities. But golf courses throughout the country are struggling. “Despite our best efforts, our club has been operating at a deficit for years,” Whitaker wrote the homeowners. “We are unwilling to sustain an unprofitable business.”
Whitaker said he has brought in to turnaround golf clubs for the past 24 years, and most recently helped turn around South Salem’s Illahe Hills Country Club.
Vice-president Nancy La Voie said it’s unusual for an outside entity to request such an agreement with a homeowners association. “I’ve been in this industry since 1996 and I’ve never had anything like this happen before,” she said.
In his letter, Whitaker said he worked on the proposal with the HOA Board last year, the Statesman Journal reported.