Nearly a thousand golf courses have closed across the country in the past ten years and many more are about to face their swan song.
Since the closing of Escondido Country Club, Carmel Highland, San Luis Rey Downs Golf Resort, Stoneridge Golf Club, Salt Creek in Chula Vista, Sun Valley Golf Course in La Mesa and Fallbrook Golf Club have all been abandoned. Meantime negotiations are ongoing concerning Reidy Creek in Escondido, Chula Vista Municipal Golf Course and Cottonwood Golf Course in El Cajon. Like many courses, they are all losing money and the owners are looking for a way out.
Meadow Lake Golf Course, in north Escondido, (now renamed Boulder Oaks Golf Club) underwent water saving redesign two years ago. Part of that agreement with the city and the municipal water district that provided much of the funding for turf removal and modernization of the drainage and sprinkler system, allowed the owner to set aside approximately 30 acres of land for future development. Rumor has it that the owner can't get an offer over $4M for the entire property because of the zoning and the cost to water the grass. But he has had an offer of $10M for the 30 acre parcel contingent on approvals to redevelop it into residences.
Many other courses across California and Nevada are in serious trouble or are already scheduled to close. Lost Canyons Golf Club in Simi Valley, the Mountain Course at Robinson Ranch in Santa Clarita and Empire Lakes Golf Club in Rancho Cucamonga, are all gone now. Central Valley has lost three layouts since 2014. Diablo Grande Golf & Country Club in Patterson and Ridgemark Golf & Country Club have shut down half of their 36 hole layouts.
The once-exclusive Malibu Golf Club closed in 2015 and the 36-hole Rancho Canada Golf Club in Carmel, a rare affordable place to play on the pricey Monterey Peninsula, will close its two courses in December after its land lease expires. That is really sad as they were gorgeous tracts and reasonably priced for their locale.
Palm Desert and La Quinta said goodbye to Santa Rosa Golf Club and Rancho Mirage Country Club, where our friendly Neighbor Hood Hijacker took over.
San Geronimo Golf Club, a public course in Marin County a few miles north of San Francisco has been closed and purchased by a trust. The new owners plan to let it go back to its natural habitat, which will be heavily wooded but afford some great fishing. Property owners are none too happy. A review on GolfAdvisor said, "It's really so sad an area so beautiful will be just wild growth in a year. I feel for the people with the beautiful houses looking over the course. Soon it will just be wetland and they will lose serious money."
Las Vegas is under pressure to reduce its golf course inventory too. The Wynn Golf Course on the Strip will close in December and be converted into a Wynn Paradise amusement park, featuring a 20-plus-acre lagoon with a beach, possibly another hotel tower and casino and extensive dining and nightlife attractions. At $500 per round, not too many people will notice the loss. The Legacy Golf Club, Badlands, and Black Mountain Golf and Country Club are all under assault by developers and involved in litigation of some kind or another. Silverstone Golf Club, owned by the Neighbor Hood Hijacker group, is closed and in court with some homeowners
Making golf courses disappear has become a popular act for aggressive redevelopers. And adding some fireworks to the show is part of the illusion. Phoenix’s Ahwatukee Lakes Golf Course closed in 2013, when a California businessman put up fences, and told anyone who would listen the land would never be a golf course again. Homeowners complained the owner was turning the course into an eyesore in order to win approval to redevelop it into single-family homes, so they sued. Then in 2016 the clubhouse burned down. Then a local television station reported that the clubhouse fire was set intentionally. The deputy chief of fire investigations, was quoted saying "the investigation is ongoing and no determination has been made."
The same thing happened to abandoned clubhouses in Kentucky, Florida, Nevada and Bakersfield California. There does seem to be a compelling series of coincidences regarding the disposition of bankrupt golf courses. Across the country, developers acquire troubled golf acreage, create an ugly eyesore, maybe let the clubhouse suffer spontaneous combustion, then recommend to the angry and demoralized community that only they can come to the rescue by redeveloping the land at gigantic profit margins. Unfortunately, none of the depressed property values ever seem to recover and the developers never offer to share in their profits.
Locals lose big, developers win big.
It appears to be an industry MOI to buy low, destroy the community continuity, depress property values, and drag out the process to inflict as much pain as possible. When the local resistance runs out of money and patience, they put a resolution on the ballot to get approval to turn the golf course into a money making residential or commercial development.
It is a magic trick David Copperfield would be proud of.
What Happened to Our Community?
The story of how a quiet corner of paradise has devolved into
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