The Bakersfield, Calif. property, which opened in 1962 as part of a then-new retirement community, was scheduled to be sold at public auction on July 16th, although its owner insisted he had taken legal steps to avoid that step and find other solutions, including a possible sale. The county’s Assessor’s-Recorder office has valued the club at $2.88 million.
Another golf course in Bakersfield, Calif. is fighting for survival after falling on hard financial times, The Bakersfield Californian reported, in a situation that is as much a reflection of local economic conditions as of the sport’s fading popularity.
The 18-hole course at Sundale Country Club, which opened in 1962 as part of then-new retirement community Kern City in southwest Bakersfield, has entered foreclosure proceedings, The Californian reported. As of the afternoon of June 29th, the course was scheduled to be sold at public auction on July 16th.
Owner Young Ohr shooed away journalists asking about the club’s fate on the 29th, but not before insisting he had taken legal steps to rescue the property from foreclosure, The Californian reported.
“We’re just trying to survive, OK?” Ohr said.
Sundale’s Director of Golf, Al Sandrini, said he is telling people that the club is no longer in foreclosure, but added the situation is ultimately up to Ohr, his accountant and his attorney, The Californian reported.
An administrator at Woodland Hills, Calif.-based Peak Foreclosure Services Inc., Shelley Chase, told The Californian on June 29th that she had not been notified to cancel the property’s auction. The sale is still set to happen, Chase said, “unless [Ohr did something to rectify the situation], and we simply haven’t been notified yet.”
The Assessor-Recorder’s Office of Kern County, Calif. has valued the country club at $2.88 million, including buildings and other improvements on six of the property’s 19 parcels, The Californian reported.
Observers within the local golf community voiced disappointment at the foreclosure proceedings, especially after rumors surfaced that a sale had been in the works. But they expect the worst impacts to be mostly limited to neighbors of the country club, The Californian reported.
Alan Sorensen, Golf Director at the North Kern Golf Course in Bakersfield, told The Californian that Sundale has not been substantially upgraded since its opening and is in need of major investment, including about $2 million in irrigation improvements alone.
Sorensen added, though, that he was surprised to hear that an auction had been scheduled, because of word that a sale transaction was near. His understanding was that Sundale has only about 200 members, significantly fewer than other country clubs in the city. But as a “semi-public” club for the last year or two, members of the public have been permitted to play golf there for a fee, The Californian reported.
Part of the problem has been the global oil downturn that started in 2014 and had a direct effect on the Bakersfield economy, Sorensen told The Calfiornian. Recent gains in barrel prices have lifted the local economy, he said, but not enough to “keep the golf course going.”
“It’s just kind of a sign of the times in Bakersfield,” he said. “Golf has been going down quite a bit for the last 10 years. It moves with oil.”
If the course were to close, The Californian reported, golfers there would have to transition to any of several 18-hole courses in the valley portion of Kern County. That wouldn’t be easy for members who live in the Kern City community, said Jacque Servadio, Director of Golf at the Kern River Golf Course in Bakersfield.
“Yeah, it’s going to pose a problem, because [the Kern City residents] can’t drive their golf carts across town,” she said. “I imagine they’re not happy.”
Servadio, who had also heard about an apparently nixed deal to sell the course, said golf has fallen victim to the younger generation’s preference for other forms of social interaction.
Golfing “used to be something you came out” for, she said. “It was a social thing [players did[ with neighbors.”
Rio Bravo Country Club in Bakersfield nearly succumbed to foreclosure last year, The Californian reported, but was rescued late in the process when a group of more than a dozen local investors agreed to buy the club for a reported $1.25 million.
Walker Basin, Calif. resident Steve McGarry was just coming in from the links at Sundale on June 29th when he heard about the foreclosure proceedings, The Californian reported. Although McGarry couldn’t see how the club was able to afford to keep the course open in recent years, he said it would be a shame if it closed.
“It’s a nice course,” McGarry said.
Bakersfield golfer Greg Knittel, also turning in after a warm day on the greens, described the Sundale course as being in great shape. Knittel told The Californian that he favors Sundale over other local options, he said, because it allows him to avoid driving to the city’s outskirts.
“It’s a shame,” he said about the foreclosure proceedings. “It’s nice having the [semi-] public course central in town.”
For The Californian’s full report, go to http://www.bakersfield.com/news/sundale-country-club-faces-foreclosure/article_dcde64de-7bf0-11e8-a8ec-0fe227f3db66.html