Sunday, November 5, 2017

The Week That Was, november 5, 2017

     Roger Packard, who was once described as “probably the best designer you’ve never heard of, or certainly not enough of,” died last month. He was 70. His career was overshadowed by that of his father, Larry Packard, who had a hand in designing or redesigning hundreds of courses in the United States, foremost among them the three 18-hole tracks at the Innisbrook resort in Palm Harbor, Florida. Nonetheless, Roger was involved in the creation of several dozen courses, most of them in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Texas, some of them designed alone, some with his father, and some with PGA pro Andy North. The group includes three 18-hole layouts at the Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa in Galena, Illinois, a 27-hole complex at Cantigny Golf Club in Wheaton, Illinois, a 27-hole complex at Trappers Turn Golf Club in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, and a pair of 18s at Sweetwater Country Club in Sugar Land, Texas. In a sad remembrance, Ron Whitten of Golf Digest says that in 2002 Roger told him that he was suffering from “drastic personal financial difficulties” related to the downturn in post-9/11 golf development. Later that year Roger moved to Shanghai, presumably to find work, and Whitten suggests that Roger’s lack of notoriety stems in part from the fact that he’d lived abroad, out of touch with his U.S. colleagues, for more than a decade. Roger had cancer. He spent the last days of his life in Palm Harbor, Whitten reports, where he was treated by the same caregiver who looked after his late father.

     Roger Packard was one of two second-generation architects who died last month. The other was David Gordon, the son of William Gordon, one of the original members of the American Society of Golf Course Architects and the builder of courses designed by Donald Ross, Devereux Emmet, and Willie Park, Jr. The Gordons collaborated on more than two dozen golf courses, a group that includes the Grace and Weyhill courses at Saucon Country Club in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, the Montchanin course at DuPont Country Club in Wilmington, Delaware, Stanwich Club in Greenwich, Connecticut, and Williamsburg Country Club in Williamsburg, Virginia. David also claims credit for many on his own, among them the Monocacy course at Bethlehem Country Club in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and Frosty Valley Country Club in Danville, Pennsylvania. David joined the ASGCA in 1951 and was, at the time of his death, the organization’s longest-tenured member. He was 95.

     In what’s been described as a “near-unanimous” vote, the members of Frosty Valley Country Club, in Danville, Pennsylvania, have approved a sale of their property. The members of the self-described “community gem” appear to have been desperate to make the sale, as the lease on their financially stressed club was unexpectedly abandoned earlier this year by Integrity Golf Company, a Kissimmee, Florida-based management firm that’s no longer in business. “We were in a difficult position,” the chairman of the club’s board conceded to the Daily Item. Frosty Valley’s new owner is the Liberty Group, which claims to be “committed to taking Frosty Valley to the next level.” Liberty also owns Clinton Country Club in nearby Mill Hall. It hasn’t disclosed what it paid for Frosty Valley, which features a nine-hole course that was designed by David Gordon and opened in the early 1960s.

     Surplus Transactions – Half of the 18-hole layout at Donald Ross Golf Club, in Fort Wayne, Indiana, will soon be replaced by a softball stadium and a track-and-field complex. The other half will continue to operate as a daily-fee golf course and as a practice center for the golf teams from the Indiana Institute of Technology, which has agreed to buy the 90-year-old property. Before it assumed the name of its designer, the venue had operated as Fairview Golf Club. It got its current name from Dave Alverson and Quinn Griffin, who bought Fairview in 2006. . . . An unidentified group has acquired Oak Creek Golf Course, a nine-hole track in Red Bluff, California that’s said to be “a great place for senior citizens to get out and hit a golf ball.” The new owners are expected to revived Oak Creek, which opened in 1975 but has, according to a local newspaper, “been going downhill for the last four years.” . . . Jaime and Stacey Sumners have purchased Spruce Ridge Golf Course, which has been described as one of the “most beloved” venues in Dowagiac, Michigan. The 18-hole facility has operated since 1962, and the new owners hope to make it “a good golf course, in great shape, at an affordable price.” Spruce Ridge has reportedly been closed for a year, and the Sumners aim to reopen it in the spring of next year.

     Still More Surplus Transactions – Andy Clouse has acquired a golf property that he’s been playing since he was a kid. In September, Clouse paid an undisclosed price for Loudon Meadows Golf Club, which features an 18-hole track that’s been in business since 1962. Loudon Meadows is in Fostoria, Ohio, like Clouse’s Fostoria Country Club, and just a short drive from Hillcrest Golf Course in Findlay, which Clouse purchased in April. Clouse plans to sell memberships that will enable local golfers to play all three courses. . . . Bobcat Trail Golf Club, a 19-year-old venue in North Port, Florida, has a new owner and a new name. Roger Delagrange, who purchased Bobcat Trail in 2004, has sold what’s now called Charlotte Harbor National Golf Club to its pro, Rich Smith. The club features an 18-hole course that was co-designed by Bob Tway and Lee Singletary, and Smith has promised “some positive changes and community involvement.” . . . With a pledge to give it “the attention it deserves,” a commercial real-estate company has purchased the Orchards by Cobblestone Golf Course in Lawrence, Kansas. Block & Company paid an undisclosed price for the nine-hole course, which was once known as Orchards Golf Course and then Cobblestone Golf Course. The track, which opened in 1979, is said to be located “just down the road” from the University of Kansas, but it may be linked to a covenant that prevents Block from developing its 30 acres.

     It appears that another golf property on South Carolina’s Grand Strand is about to bite the dust. Pending approval of a rezoning application, Heather Glen Golf Links, a 27-hole complex in Little River, will be sold to a home builder and closed within weeks. “We can’t afford to operate the golf course, so we’re shutting it down,” the managing partner of Glens Group, the facility’s lessee, told the Myrtle Beach Sun-News. Heather Glen, which spreads across 420 acres, features an 18-hole, Willard Byrd-designed course and a nine-hole, Clyde Johnston-designed track. The complex is owned by a trust controlled by the family of Vivian E. Vereen. The newspaper reports that Golf Digest selected Byrd’s track as named America’s best new course in 1987.

     Desolation Row Extended – Time has run out on Vermilion Oaks Country Club, which has operated in Abbeville, Louisiana since 1929, when it was known as Abbeville Country Club. The club’s owners have put their 105-acre property on the market, with an asking price of $1.8 million. Vermilion Oaks is said to be the last remaining golf venue in Vermilion Parish. . . . The fate of Patuxent Greens Country Club, an 18-hole venue in Laurel, Maryland, has been sealed. In July, Cohen Siegel Investors paid $5.4 million for the 200-acre spread, with plans to build up to 450 housing units on it. Cohen Siegel figures that it’ll take perhaps two years to secure approval for its plans, and it’s promised to keep Patuxent Greens’ Russell Roberts-designed golf course open until then. The seller was Fore Golf Partners, which sold another one of its golf properties just weeks ago. . . . So what’s the other course Fore Golf Partners recently sold? It’s Hidden Creek Country Club, in Reston, Virginia, a nearly 50-year-old venue that features an 18-hole, Ed Ault-designed layout. Hidden Creek’s new owner is a home builder that will maintain the golf operation in the near term but reportedly “reserves the right to redesignate” the 164-acre property for houses in the future.

     Greg “the Living Brand” Norman is a salesman par excellence, and not a very trustworthy one. For months, the LB has promised that Greg Norman Company and Verizon would soon unveil some sort of “innovative and disruptive technology” that would “change the way people play and view” the game of golf. Well, last week the LB showed us what he had in mind, and it boils down to this: Golf carts outfitted video screens that will stream music, news, sports, and whatever, because playing golf is simply not stimulating enough on its own. The LB calls this concept the Shark Experience, but the rest of the world has already dismissed it much ado about nothing. Next time you have a bright idea, Greg, don’t call us. We’ll call you.

1 comment:

  1. Frosty Valley in Danville, PA is an 18 hole course. Frosty Valley in Upper St. Clair, PA is a 9 hole course.