No, the title isn’t a typo. Go check out the artist Anderson .Paak for you older folks. Early this year I wrote an article about the future of Germantown Country Club. It seems the fate of the club has been settled. The Scottsdale based Millennium Companies, whose slogan reads “Repurposing Golf in Urban Communities”, intends to build a mixed use development around a short, nine hole routing. With the City of Germantown bidding $2.49 million, it would appear that they have come with a better offer. To most this would seem like a lot of money for a shut down country club, but with the infrastructure it has in place, and its location in the heart of Germantown, this is chump change for a west coast investment company.
REPURPOSING GOLF IN URBAN COMMUNITIES
There are some layers to this that need to be peeled back. First of all, real estate based around golf, has lead to hundreds and hundreds of courses built in the 80’s and 90’s to close their gates, and leave neighborhoods with foreclosed homes and little to no value. Needless to say I am hesitant. Secondly, their website experience shows large residential and course developments in the South West including Pine Canyon and Desert Mountain, as well as Loch Lomond, host of the Solheim Cup in 2000 as well as the Scottish Open from 2001-2010. The course was designed in 1993 by Tom Wieskof, and it seems that they developed the real estate around the course at a later date. Most of these properties are 5-10 times the size of this one so it will be interesting to see how their development style translates to this site.
Pine Canyon Club
Loch Lomond Golf Club
The houses are said to span from large and small site single family housing as well as “town-house flats” that will be condo style. There are plans for retail, restaurants, shops around the “village center”….starting to sound like Florida yet? In the press release Millennium CEO, Bob Hubbs Jr. says that the aim is to draw people from the neighborhood and greater community to enjoy the development, whether it be the nature park, golf course, village center or the other amenities they have planned for “Anderson Park”. This is a great idea on paper, but I am skeptical based on where this is located, suburbia, and the previous use of the property, and the barriers that a resort/gated community type feel this could turn into.
As for the golf, they have a great architect slated to do the project. Forest Richardson, a well known golf architecture author and designer/architect of more than 20 courses/renovations across the country and world. Most recently he just finished up a renovation of Roosevelt Golf Course in Los Angeles. This 2400 yard muni in the Hollywood Hills has been reinvented by the masterful hands of Forrest. Another set of eyes that will be intimately involved are those of former tour pro, Bryce Moulder. The Little Rock native and winner on the PGA Tour, serves as Director of Capital markets and PGA Tour Ambassador. Whatever that means. Regardless, the eyes of a former professional, who has played this course before is certainly an asset to the project.
I am very curious as to how Forrest plans to scale back a championship 18 hole golf course, to an “executive style course’. Holes that span from 100-200 yards is a par 3 course to the average golfer. The short course at Oxmoor Valley was 3600 yards from the tips to put things into perspective. In no way am I saying that length = good golf. However, I believe that variety is key to attracting all levels of golfer to a course. WP9 plays as a par 35 at a shade under 2500 yards. It challenges scratch golfers and beginners alike. My hope is that Forrest will build more of a Roosevelt or WP9, than a monotonous, cookie cutter, “executive course” that will end up failing within the first 5 years due to no outside play.
It will be interesting to see the information that comes out as permits are applied for, and we get closer to construction. Like any development, and especially one in Germantown, there will be zoning issues, community surveys, committee meetings, board approvals, and all other bureaucratic processes you can think of. Stay tuned.