The owner of the Winnebago, Ill. property is exploring selling the golf course to the Westlake Home Owners Association for $800,000, but doubts they can garner enough votes to pass it. Members of the homeowners association are concerned about the impact closing the golf course may have on their property values.
Westlake Village is a 550-home community—and it’s a golf course.
“But they’ve never been tied together,” said Greg Schweighart, an avid golfer who lives at Westlake.
There’s a chance for that now. There also is a chance the 18-hole golf course could fold, reported rrstar.com.
Peter Beaves—owner and president of Midwest Irrigation, which owns both Westlake and Swanhills in Belvidere—has put the course up for sale, offering it to the Westlake Homeowners Association for $800,000, rrstar.com reported.
Both Beaves and Schweighart said homeowners were cool to the idea of paying $1,500 apiece for the course, reported rrstar.com. Schweighart said it might take another $200 a year per household to operate the course, which Beaves told homeowners has lost around $135,000 a year the last six years.
“We love everything that Westlake has to offer,” said Schweighart, who has two young sons he’d like to see learn to golf at Westlake. “I’d really hate to see what would happen if the course would go to pasture.”
Beaves met with the homeowners association and is skeptical members will buy the course, which serves as the home course for both Winnebago and Pecatonica’s high school golf teams, reported rrstar.com.
“I would like to sell it to them and it’s in their interest to keep it; the property values are going to be affected if it closes,” Beaves said. “I met with them and about 60 people showed up. I gave them suggestions on how they could do it, but it’s hard for people who live on the other side—away from the golf course—to realize how property values are affected, but it happens everywhere when golf courses close.
“If they don’t go for it, I’m going to try to sell it to anyone. I personally don’t think they can get enough votes for it to pass. There’s a lot of negativity there. I’m going to try with them, but I doubt if it will work.”
Clubhouse manager Brian Berg said Westlake peaked at 20,000 rounds in 2000, a year after it opened, but has been around 13,000 in recent years, rrstar.com reported. Beaves said the last time the course “even got close to” breaking even was in 2012. “We lost 3,000 rounds in 2013 and that was the end of it. We never got it back,” he said.
Rounds are down drastically for most local golf courses, including municipal courses in Rockford, Freeport and the three Winnebago County Forest Preserve courses. Rockford has a plan to close or sell Elliot, one of its five courses, if its golf budget doesn’t improve after losing $500,000 the last few years, reported rrstar.com.
“I’ve been holding on because I think sometime the Forest Preserve will close one, but they have more money than me so I will close and help them.”
Berg and Schweighart see “a lot of potential at Westlake” but say more money will have to be put into the course and clubhouse, and that’s a tough sell, rrstar.com reported.
“The owner doesn’t want to spend more to expand or improve, and you can’t stand still in this golf economy,” Berg said. “There are plenty of choices for golfers. We’re looking for an investor to come in and do something great here. It’s a nice course. All the investors say the same things: There is a lot of potential here. It’s just a matter of the right person coming along.”
And if no one comes along? What then?
“A lot of homeowners here are very, very worried, and some don’t think it’s a big deal,” Berg said. “This course has a positive impact in this area. It would be a shame if something happened to it. Some understand that. Some do not.”
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