The city has received proposals for the property, which has been steadily losing money and rounds, from a group that includes golf pro, course owner and television/radio host Jimmy Hanlin. One proposal includes the construction of a nine-hole course and indoor-outdoor practice facility, and a second proposal would involve the construction of a new 18-hole course and practice facility.
The struggles of Meadowood Golf Course in Westlake, Ohio are all too familiar in the golf industry, reported Crain’s Cleveland Business.
The number of rounds played at the city-owned course dropped 7.4%, to just 14,534, in 2017, The grounds need some major upgrades, but that task is compounded by the golf course’s shaky finances, reported Crain’s.
“It’s currently losing money each and every year, because it doesn’t get played as often as we’d like and there are some improvements that need to be made,” Westlake Mayor Dennis Clough said.
The city, boosted by the 2017 renewal of a 0.125% municipal income tax, is considering a big investment in golf, reported Crain’s. Should it go that unconventional route—building during an era in which many courses have shut down—Westlake might enlist the help of Jimmy Hanlin, a PGA golf professional who owns and serves as Director of Golf for two other Ohio courses (Little Mountain Country Club in Concord, Ohio and StoneWater Golf Club in Highland Heights, Ohio) and also hosts national and regional television and radio golf shows.
Hanlin said that his group, which includes Fry Straka Global Golf Course Design, expected to submit a couple proposals to the city by the close of business on Friday, September 21, Crain’s reported. One proposal includes the construction of a nine-hole course and indoor-outdoor practice facility on the grounds of Meadowood. A second proposal would involve the construction of a new 18-hole course and practice facility, Crain’s reported.
The nine-hole option would be a loop course that would play in different directions, depending on the day, Crain’s reported. Customers could play three holes, or six, instead of the customary nine or 18.
“The whole theory is that they have an hour and just want to play a few holes,” said Hanlin. “My biggest problem in golf right now is it’s four to five hours if someone wants to come and play 18 holes.”
Clough said he was intrigued by the possibility that Westlake could have new, unique options for interested golfers. “[Hanlin] gave us information that seems exciting with the aspect that maybe this golf course could be turned into at least a profit-making enterprise or, if nothing else, a break-even type of operation,” he told Crain’s.
That hasn’t been the case at Meadowood—a 27-hole course that is comprised of two nine-hole, par-3 layouts and a standard nine-hole option—for quite a while, reported Crain’s. Westlake’s 2018 State of the City report said the number of rounds played at Meadowood the previous year had plummeted by 1,166. The facility’s junior golf members decreased 14.7%, to 145, and its six organized leagues were down from seven in 2016, Crain’s reported.
Asked if the golf course was on track for even fewer rounds in 2018, Clough said, “That’s what I heard.”
Hanlin is hopeful that, should Westlake select and approve one of his group’s proposals, the new facility would reverse the downward trend.
“We want to get more people in the city to be able to become better players and want to play more golf,” he told Crain’s. “That’s the whole theory behind this thing. This place is going to be designed to make people want to play more golf, whether they’re beginners or experienced players. There would be so many more options for them.”
A key part of the plans being proposed by Hanlin and Fry Straka—a Dublin, Ohio-based firm whose portfolio includes Little Mountain and StoneWater—is a state-of-the-art practice facility that would be covered and include heated areas at which golfers could hit balls, reported Crain’s.
“It would be a learning center with instruction,” Hanlin said.
Ideally, the addition of the practice facility would lengthen Westlake’s golf season, with customers possibly more inclined to start playing in February and March, and continue playing until November, Crain’s reported.
Exploring the possibility of a new golf course is quite a bit different than a master plan Westlake unveiled for its parks and recreation departments in 2015, Crain’s reported. The plan included a sports park that would be constructed, adjacent to the golf course property, which led to questions about Meadowood’s future.
“One of those scenarios was if you were to put in a sports park, this is one location where it could be,” Clough said. “Nothing was ever set in stone.”
After a municipal income-tax renewal measure passed last November, Westlake began to take a deeper look at options for its flagging golf course, reported Crain’s.
Earlier in 2017, the city and the Westlake City School District agreed to a land swap in which the city would trade 29 acres next to Westlake Porter Public Library for 42 acres. The latter property is “immediately adjacent to the golf course,” Clough said, which increases the city’s options as it studies a series of recreation projects that originally were estimated to cost $34.5 million.
If Westlake agrees to build a new 18-hole course, Hanlin said his group would propose that the golf course’s property extend beyond the current grounds. The nine-hole option would encompass the existing Meadowood property, Crain’s reported.
Whether the city decides to proceed on a redesign of its golf course will depend on the costs and the feedback Hanlin’s proposal receives, Clough said.
“This might be a great asset for the community and might be one that fits nicely for people that only want to play nine,” the mayor said.
Hanlin is eager to get involved, reported Crain’s. “This wouldn’t be Westlake just building a golf course,” he said. “This would be the city building a state-of-the-art, new-wave facility that’s different than anything you’ve seen anywhere else.”