While the future of the 18-hole Stone Creek Golf Club in Urbana, Ill., which is already zoned for residential development, looks uncertain past the end of this year, Railside Golf Club in Gibson City, Ill. is discovering significant efficiencies—and added customer appeal—after downsizing to 12 holes.
The vision of Atkins Group founder Clint Atkins for the 18-hole Stone Creek Golf Club in the over-developed Champaign-Urbana, Ill. marketplace is likely to come to an end, according to a recent article in The News-Gazette of Urbana.
The course, which opened 18 years ago as the culmination of golf-loving Atkins’ dream, will be open through this year, The News-Gazette reported, but son Spencer, who is in charge of the club now, made no promises past that time. The property is already zoned for residential development, some of which has already taken place.
“It’s been a golf course for 18 years,” Spencer Atkins told The News-Gazette. “I think people enjoy it, but golf’s just not the same that it was. When Clint built the course, he had a vision for it and executed that vision. We’d like to maintain that vision, but it’s just not feasible these days.”
Nearby, however, The News-Gazette reported that the Railside Golf Club in Gibson City, Ill. is operating as a 12-hole course, following the purchase of some of the former 18-hole course last year by a group headed by Guy Percy. The group wasn’t able to buy the entire acreage that held the 18-hole layout, but Percy said they are learning that the 12-hole experience may be much more feasible in terms of operating cost, as well as the time that today’s golfers have to play.
“We’re so much better off,” Percy told The News-Gazette. “Now we can get by with one greens mower, one fairway mower [and] one of just about every other piece of equipment, where we would have needed two.”
“We’re renovating all of our bunkers, and that would have been about 22 more bunkers to renovate at 3,000 [dollars] a pop that we don’t have to renovate,” Percy added about the reduction of holes. “There’s a lot less labor, a lot less chemicals without that 80 acres.”
And the smaller course is more flexible, he noted, as customers can now play six, 12 or 18 holes. At the same time, there’s still enough capacity to accommodate big outings of 100 golfers or so.
“We were so disappointed that we couldn’t buy it all, but I think we’re way ahead that we could only get 12 of it,” Percy told The News-Gazette.
“It’s kinda ironic, but I think Nicklaus is onto something,” Percy said in reference to golf legend Jack Nicklaus, who is developing 12-hole courses. “There are a few more popping up in places, and we feel good about it.”
Percy told The News-Gazette that he believes the golf industry, locally and nationally, will see more change.
“There are going to be a lot more Stone Creeks, unfortunately,” he said. “I don’t know how many years it’s been, maybe a dozen years in a row where we’ve had more courses close in the year than have opened. It needs to happen for maybe another decade until this game can get healthy again.
“I don’t know how you could make Stone Creek profitable, not at the standard that [Clint Atkins] expected,” he said. “I don’t know how you do it. I’d love to put a group together to buy it for a million bucks, but then the problem is you own it and you’d have to be prepared to lose money doing it. That’s the problem.”
The market is so overbuilt, Percy said, that it costs less today to play golf in central Illinois than it did 15 years ago.
To read the entire story, go to http://www.news-gazette.com/news/local/2018-04-29/area-golf-clubs-are-being-blown-course.html
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