Friday, February 10, 2017

Desolation Row, february 10, 2017

     Lana’i City, Lani’i, Hawaii. The multi-billionaire who co-founded Oracle Corporation has decided that the Pineapple Island can get by just fine with only one “signature” golf course. Larry Ellison has closed Koele Golf Course, a Greg Norman-designed layout that was originally known as the Experience at Koele. Ellison, who’s said to be worth $50.7 billion, may display some sculptures on the track’s front nine, an idea that Michael Hill has used to great effect at his golf club in New Zealand. Koele is one of two 18-hole courses that Ellison owns on Lana’i, an island he bought (well, he bought 98 percent of it) in 2012. (The price, according to Pacific Business Journal, was $300 million.) Ellison’s Manele Golf Course, a Jack Nicklaus design (originally the Challenge at Manele), will continue to operate, as part of a resort that includes a lodge, a spa, and a wellness center.

     Tujunga, California. On the last day of last year, the lights were turned out at a golf course that was built at the site of a former Japanese internment camp. Verdugo Hills Golf Course, in a northern suburb of Los Angeles, opened in 1960, 17 years after the camp was dissembled. For more than a decade, the course’s owners have been seeking permission to build a gated community on the 58-acre property, but they’ve been stymied by local residents who believe the site’s history shouldn’t be forgotten. “We’re going to fight tooth and nail to keep it preserved,” a spokesperson for the residents told the Los Angeles Times. “We’re going to keep working and hoping the funding could be found to purchase the golf course from the owners at a fair price.” The course’s owners haven’t said whether they’re willing to sell.

     Cabot, Arkansas. Earlier this month, the 18-hole golf course at Greystone Country Club went belly up. The 22-year-old track, a Kevin Tucker design, claimed to offer “an unparalleled golf experience” against “a relaxing, picturesque backdrop.” For the time being, at least, the club’s owners intend to continue operating the property’s bar, restaurant, and driving range.

     Belle Chasse, Louisiana. Citing financial losses resulting from “a steady decline in rounds for the past several years,” Bayou Barriere Golf Club has gone dark. The club, in suburban New Orleans, had been in business since 1963, and it featured a 27-hole golf complex that was designed by one of its former pros, Jimmy Self. “Despite our many efforts to increase play,” the club’s general manager said in a press release, “our numbers finally reached the point that the business was simply no longer sustainable.”

     Edmond, Oklahoma. Time has run out on Coffee Creek Golf Course, the centerpiece of a 26-year-old community in suburban Oklahoma City. A group led by Kyle Copeland bought the 18-hole golf course last month and immediately ceased operations. No public announcements have been made, but development appears to be on the horizon. Millennium Golf Properties had reportedly been trying to sell Coffee Creek since late 2015. It accepted $1.25 million for the 182-acre layout.

     Lebanon, Illinois. Just days ago, McKendree University pulled the plug on the Hills Golf Club, one of the state’s oldest golf properties. “We have not been able to make it a profitable venture,” the school’s president acknowledged in a press release. The Hills opened with a nine-hole course in 1933 (it was originally called Locust Hills Golf Course), and the club later (best guess: 1967) added a second nine. McKendree bought the venue in 2012, reportedly for $1.4 million, and claims to have “invested in it to the extent that we have been able” ever since. A decision regarding future uses of the 109-acre property hasn’t been made, but the school and the course’s operator would consider a sale “should a viable offer be tendered.”

     Akron, Ohio. Valley View Golf Club has a new owner and a new future. Last fall, Summit Metro Parks paid $4 million for the club, the aim being to maintain its 194-acre property as open space. Valley View features an 18-hole course that opened in either 1958 or 1970, depending on which source one believes. The course was designed by Carl Springer, and it appears that members of the Springer family were the sellers.

     Jacksonville, Alabama. Can’t say for sure if they followed through, but last fall Frank and Merl Wade promised to close Stoney Brook Golf Course on November 1. “The golf industry has declined in Calhoun County and is not growing,” Renda Jaskowski, the Wades’ daughter, told the Anniston Star. “Young people are not picking it up, and lifestyles are a lot busier now.” Stoney Brook features an 18-hole, Billy Branon-designed track that opened in 1972. The Wades bought the club in 1984, and they’ve offered it for sale for $799,000. Jaskowski may have provided a glimpse of Stoney Brook’s future when she described its 132 acres as “premium land.”

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