All of the Meadow Vista, Calif., club’s greens are suffering severe damage because of a faulty chemical application that will cost the maintenance company up to $400,000, forcing the golf course to close until late June and suspend dues. The club’s new owners recently renovated the clubhouse, added a fitness center, and upgraded the course’s drainage and cart fleet, seeing membership increase by 75 in the past 13 months.
All 18 of Winchester Country Club’s greens in Meadow Vista, Calif., are suffering severe damage because of a faulty chemical application, the Sacramento (Calif.) Bee reported.
The club’s owner, Real Capital Solutions, has accepted that the course will be closed for at least three months while the greens are reseeded, and that conditions won’t be fully back up to par for months after that, the Bee reported.
“We’re going to take this opportunity to do a lot of the work we were going to be pushing out over the next year and condensing the time frame,” said David Bennett, managing director of club operations.
“It’s an unfortunate situation that has a silver lining. I think most of the members see it that way, too. It’s a bummer, for sure, but at no expense to them, they get a practically brand-new facility with brand new-putting surfaces,” Bennett said.
Problems started February 24, Bennett said, when a spray technician with ValleyCrest Golf Course Maintenance mistakenly applied a harmful chemical to the greens instead of a substance to restrict the growth of poa annua in favor of bent grass, the Bee reported.
Bennett investigated whether the damage was done intentionally and found no such evidence. The course, its greens rapidly deteriorating, was closed March 5 and dues were suspended for the club’s 284 members, the Bee reported.
ValleyCrest has taken full responsibility for the error, which Bennett estimates will cost between $300,000 and $400,000, taking into account the loss of dues, outside revenue and the cost to redo the greens. ValleyCrest, insured for such a scenario, will continue to do course maintenance, the Bee reported.
John and Cheryl DeWildt have been Winchester members since 2002. The club, which opened in 2000, was private and arguably the most exclusive in the area when the couple joined. It was foreclosed upon in 2008, after which it became bank-owned and semiprivate. The course lost much of its fairway grass in 2010, a case of deferred maintenance gone awry, the Bee reported.
Real Capital Solutions, a Colorado-based real estate investor of distressed assets, bought Winchester in January 2013. The new owners renovated the clubhouse, adding a fitness center, and upgraded the course’s drainage and cart fleet. The club’s membership increased by 75 in the past 13 months, the Bee reported.
“They’ve handled it very well,” John DeWildt said of course ownership. “Better than you could hope for in this situation. They’ve assisted us getting onto other private courses at pretty good rates. We’ve had our share of inconveniences and setbacks over the years. We’re very fortunate to have them.”
While the club’s driving range and clubhouse remain open, the course is expected to remain closed until late June, when a focused relaunch will be aimed at selling the remaining 136 home sites and attracting enough new members to return the course to private, the Bee reported.
“Our goal is to have the best greens in Northern California again,” Bennett said.