Under the new owner, the name of the property has been changed from Newport Beach Golf Course to Newport Beach Golf Club. Inland Group plans to upgrade the lighted, 18-hole executive golf course, restaurant, and driving and practice range.
Newport Beach (Calif.) Golf Course, an 18-hole executive course, has changed ownership and its name to Newport Beach Golf Club, the Santa Ana, Calif-.based Orange County Register reported.
“It’s not just a golf course, it’s a golf club,” said Bayview Heights resident Buck Johns, managing partner of an investment group that has purchased the lighted golf course, which opened on July 4, 1976, according to the former owner, the late Steve Lane.
In a greatly anticipated remodeling of the facility, the golf course’s new owner, the Inland Group, is planning to invest millions of dollars to upgrade the golf course, restaurant and driving and practice range, the Register reported.
“The par-3 course was created some 40 years ago,” said Johns, who has been playing at the golf course since it opened. “The two founders have passed away, as has the son of one of them (Lane) who was the general manager for many years. Three widows—the youngest just turned 70—have no interest in running a golf course and (have sold it) to new owners. It has deteriorated appreciably in recent years.”
On December 15, the Inland Group secured a “Change of Lessee” through the Orange County Board of Supervisors (the county owns the back nine, while the front nine is privately owned). The Inland Group, which is owned by Johns, took over as managing operator on New Year’s Eve, with staff headed by General Manager Steve Carfano and Director of Golf Keith Wyrick, the Register reported.
The golf course has lacked general maintenance and is in need of a facelift. Paint is chipping off parts of the building, the water fountain has been turned off for years with no upkeep, and the driving range became an eyesore even before the city-mandated water restrictions. Rounds of golf per year have dipped to about 30,000, after a peak of 87,000, Wyrick said.
“Our goal is to be a reflection of the community in which we live,” Johns said. “This facility is located arguably between two of the finest facilities on the planet in Fashion Island and South Coast Plaza, and it’s located right next door to John Wayne Airport. There is an incomparable lifestyle in Newport Beach, and we should have the finest executive golf course anywhere in the world.”
Johns, who has had an illustrious career as an industrial engineer, entrepreneur and state and federal government appointee to various public service positions, has hosted many charity golf fundraisers at Newport Beach Golf Club, which has long catered to weddings and special events because of its restaurant, bar and dancing and entertainment permits, the Register reported.
“I’ve lived just a few blocks from the course since it opened, and frequently enjoy both the course and the driving range. I leaned on some buddies, and we’re looking forward to sprucing it up,” said Johns.
The first order of business will be to trim the 579 trees on the property and remove 17 dead trees and a dozen stumps. Next will be new LED lighting throughout the facility. Newport Beach Golf Club is planning to do away with the grass on the driving range and build a two-story driving range and hitting facility, featuring synthetic turf and a vacuum system that takes in the balls, cleans them automatically and sorts them out for the next customer, the Register reported.
The new ownership group is also hopeful of extending the current five-year lease with the county to 30 years, which would enable the golf course to follow through with its intended improvements and vision for remodeling. The Inland Group has reached out to Tom Fazio’s golf course design company to assist in remodeling the golf course, the Register reported.