Crooked Creek Golf Club, which has been operating for 20 years, has decided to sell to a single-family or multifamily residential developer.
Tony Withers, one of the owners of the club, said the course economics are getting worse. With plenty of land-hungry builders eager to convert the course into residential lots, Withers expects to fetch enough money from the sale to pay off the property’s debt, pay back his investment partners, and walk away with a small profit. “My goal’s always been to do a golf course,” Withers, 61, said. “All I ever wanted to do was build a golf course, own a golf course and run a golf course.”
Crooked Creek opened in December 1993 and covers approximately 160 acres. Because it was a public course, the community didn’t make payments toward upkeep. Greg Bushcer, president of the homeowners association, said he tried to make arrangements to help the club when he was notified of its financial troubles by increasing community membership dues. “We could have worked out a situation at the time,” Buscher said. “They said, ‘You guys can’t afford what we’re looking for.’ There was nothing precluding them to negotiate.”
Homeowners have not received the decision well. Homes within the community are all custom built and held to a certain architectural standard according to the 1993 covenant signed by Withers. Most homes in Crooked Creek are currently priced between $200,000 and $600,000. “For those who bought property early on and possibly paid a premium for their location, they’re going to be impaired,” said Mike Pratt, a real estate agent for Wake County Golf Homes. “If your lot backs up to the 18th hole with a tremendous view and over time it becomes part of nature, it’s certainly not going to carry the same value.”
According to Withers, the declining popularity of golf in the United States and the competition between Triangle courses is reflected in Crooked Creek’s struggles. Contrarily, Tad Woods, area manager at Hedingham Golf Club, and Robbie Glad, general manager of Raleigh’s Wil~Mar Golf Club, said business has stabilized. “A business today like the golf course has to be dynamic and progressive in order to compete, and if you are not, then you are going backwards,” Wood said. “Their dream of having a golf course has been replaced with the vision of big money.”
The property is not yet under contract, and the golf course will remain open through the end of the year. “Our exit strategy has always been to put a neighborhood in there when the time came,” said Withers. “I didn’t think it would be in my lifetime.”
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