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Sunday, May 09, 2010

 

Plan for flipping dead golf courses ends up in rough

<I’d played Inwood Forest a bunch of times . . . my old golf buddy JD was a member there . . . I’m not saying it was the greatest course in the world, or even in Houston, but it was kinda linksy in the way it interpolated the bayou into the design . . . there was at least one dogleg that the suburb intruded too much into the corner, sorta like the Hotel on #17 (?) at Old St. Andrews . . . and there was a medium length par 4 with OB down the right side, a straight fence line that usta terrify me cuz I was such a slicer, nuthin but neighborhood over that fence, and a reachable water hazard on the left, which, laying back from made for a very long 2nd shot . . . neighborhood was decaying tho’, remember that Jaybird had his pager stolen off his golf-cart by some kids  . . . . I just hate to see any golf course taken away . . . especially when the neighbors that would be getting the golf balls in their back yards still want it . . . I still remember Turtle Creek in San Antonio was done like this back in the mid 80s . . . there were still recognizable fairways, great looking holes, downhill par 5s with trees and water hazards when I stumbled across it, after it had been closed  . . .  I can’t believe Atascocita is in this category too . . .but I think there were two Atascocita courses, one upscale and one more public . . .  I would argue that some courses have unrecognized potential that may not be realized until its second life, when some renovation takes place . . . >

 

By MIKE TOLSON
HOUSTON CHRONICLE

May 8, 2010, 8:28PM

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/6996566.html

Back in the midst of the real estate boom, when buyers were plentiful and any reasonable deal would find a taker, the idea must have seemed like a smart one. Find failing suburban golf courses that have outlived their appeal, get them at a big discount, quietly carve off a chunk of the most useful part of the real estate and flip it to a developer who saw the potential for a different use.

Just because the property was not worth much as a golf course did not mean it couldn't be worth a lot for something — so went the reasonable argument. But what Mark Voltmann and his partners failed to fully appreciate, or so it seems, was the reluctance of homeowners to go along. Even people who wouldn't know a 5-iron from a garden hoe got nervous at the prospect of condos, or something worse, looming over their back fence.

Better a dead golf course than a live shopping center. Or apartment complex. Or nursing home.

Voltmann's Renaissance Golf Group, based in Ohio, bought three struggling courses in the Houston area, two in 2002 and another in 2007. Since then, however, the only thing they've gotten for their effort is an ever-mounting legal bill. The latest roadblock came with a jury verdict late last year that would prohibit the use of the land that once served as the Inwood Forest Country Club for any purpose other than a golf course.

 


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