The Nine Mile Falls, Wash. property opened in 1963 and had become known as one of the Spokane, Wash. area’s hidden gems. It was owned by the Johnston-Jones family until 2017, when it was sold to developer Brad West for $1.7 million. West and a partner said maintaining Sun Dance as a golf course is no longer feasible, and steps to “do something very nice” with the property will now be explored.
Sun Dance Golf Course, a staple of the Nine Mile Falls, Wash. community for more than 55 years, announced on August 1st that it will close permanently on September 30 to make way for something new—possibly a future housing development, reported The Spokesman-Review of Spokane, Wash.
Sun Dance GC opened in 1963 and became one of the Spokane area’s hidden gems, The Spokesman-Review reported, with its manicured greens and tall evergreen trees. Several Pro Am and local golf tournaments were held at the 18-hole golf course throughout the years.
Ken Johnston and his wife, Peggy Jones, purchased the golf course in 1977. When Johnston died in 1997, Peggy and her children took over ownership of the property, The Spokesman-Review reported.
Jones sold the property—which includes a driving range, pro shop and a restaurant—to developer Brad West in 2017 for $1.7 million, according to Spokane County Assessor’s records, The Spokesman-Review reported.
“The play at the course was down. It’s just like a ski hill. You have a very short window to make money,” Shelly Price, manager of Sun Dance and Johnston’s daughter, told The Spokesman-Review. “Last year, we had a lot of rain in the spring, then heat and fires. It’s something we’ve always dealt with in the past 50 years.
“You can’t control Mother Nature, but costs continue to rise and we didn’t really raise our rates,” Price added. “We tried to keep rates less than the city or county courses.”
It will be difficult to see the golf course close, Price said.
“It’s going to be hard. [Sun Dance] has been in our family for more than 50 years,” she said. “Our family would like to thank the community for their support and loyalty throughout the years. We appreciate them as well as our employees.”
West told The Spokesman-Review that he attempted to keep the course open, but it just wasn’t feasible. “The golf course isn’t viable economically, and hasn’t been viable for a while,” he said.
Spokane real estate developer Chris Heftel, who is consulting with West on a proposed project for the golf course site, told The Spokesman-Review that plans for the property are still to be determined, but could include a housing development.
“We are starting the process of looking into getting the property developed,” Heftel said. “Golf is a very tough industry; it’s tough to be competitive, especially in a market like Spokane with a short [golf] season and a lot of city and county courses.”
Housing, on the other hand, remains a promising industry in Spokane’s competitive market, The Spokesman-Review noted.Other undeveloped areas of the city are being eyed by developers as likely ground for a new wave of building.
Heftel said the next step would be to inform nearby residents and conduct informal meetings to share information about future development. “We’re going to try to do something very nice with [the property],” he said.
Spokane resident Myles Bonneville has been golfing at Sun Dance for more than 30 years, The Spokesman-Review reported.“I love the place,” Bonneville said. “I’m really bummed it’s closing, especially for the reason. It’s a laid back, good, family-friendly golf course.”
Nine Mile Falls resident Retta McHugh, who with her late husband, Michael, purchased a home near the 11th hole of the golf course in 1989, told The Spokesman-Review that the coupled had formed many friendships through golfing at Sun Dance.
“I am terribly disappointed this great source of recreation and socialization is no longer a part of my life,” said McHugh. “We just always hoped when it was sold they would keep it a golf course. It’s been a huge part of the Nine Mile Falls community. I’ve always been really proud of the course, proud to live on it and proud of our community of friends that have developed over the years on the course.”
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