The truth about the golf business.


"COURSE CLOSED! Safari on the Serengeti."

The sorry part of this story - it's happening right now. This scenario is going on in many parts of the country - possible hundreds of golf courses going to seed!

September 30,2001By Anonymous: News staff writer.

The first hint of trouble begins with the sign at the padlocked clubhouse. It says, "Pretty Dumb Golf Link," with the "P" hanging by a thread, ready to fall off at the whiff of a stiff wind.

From the first hole onward, it gets worse: Weed-choked greens, tall weeds cover some ponds, bunkers worse than a playgroundís sandlot and golf car paths littered with fallen tree limbs. Alligators live in the ponds, rats and snakes infest the bushes and mosquitoes thrive in the stagnant waters. Except for some hole signs still standing, there is no indication that the 27-hole layout, once known as the Pretty Nice Golf & Country Club, is a golf course.

Located along U.S. X in Dummy Beach, it was considered one of the most beautiful golf courses in the County as recent as 10 years ago. But the property, now owned by a Delaware investment corporation operating out of Rhode Island, may finally have a rebirth as it gets out of bankruptcy.

Earlier, a bankruptcy judge allowed another pretty dumb Investment Corporation to buy the 166-acre property from its owners, Dummy Beach residents Jerry and Penelope Smith through their corporation, Not-Enough-Money Inc. Dumb-Dumb Investment Corp. became the successor of the $900,000 promissory note originally issued on March 29, 2000, by 2nd Tee Capital Advisors Ltd.

The note has reached $1.2 million, including interest, late charges and exit fees, according to a suit Dumb Dumb filed to foreclose on the property in May. Not-Enough-Money then filed bankruptcy to effectively forestall the foreclosure. An attorney representing the Pretty Dumb Homeowners Association, said A judge authorized the sale and the cleanup of the golf course. Attorney said Dumb Dumb Investment bought the property for $2,000,000. Great Big Dumb Bank holds the first mortgage of about $1.2 million, said the attorney.

As new owner, Dumb Dumb Investment has created a management group, Outhouse Capital, to prepare the golf course for sale. The management group, in turn, has hired Just-in-Time Golf, a local golf maintenance company, to clean up the course, starting with mowing the grass adjacent to the Pretty Dumb homes.

If a buyer is found, the golf course could be put back in operation, said D Highhope, president of the Pretty Dumb Homeowners Association. But Highhope doubts a buyer could be found. "Iím concerned the buyer may have to spend another $1.5 million to bring the course up to standard," Highhope said. "With the debt service, I doubt anyone will buy it.

"About 13 years ago, Highhope said the golf course was offered to the homeowners association by Pretty Dumb developer U. Take-it? No! Because a majority of the association members rejected it because of certain conditions attached to the sale, including using the course to promote Dumb-dumb Properties, Highhope said. The Smiths then bought the golf course for about $3 million in 1989, he added. The golf course is likely to be sold at that amount but a golf developer and some Realtors say it would be hard to sell the golf course. (Ed note: Not very likely. Golf course land today is like middle-of-a-lake-land Ė not worth anything!)

"Why buy Dumb-Dumb for $3 million when you can have a brand new golf course for $4 million?" said Golf Expert, owner of XYZ Golf Construction, a company specializing in renovating and constructing golf courses. He said zoning limitations prevent the golf course from being converted into a housing development.

Residents of Pretty Dumb, an upscale retirement community, say they just want to see something done to the golf course. While once before they gazed at a well-manicured golf course when they look out their windows, now all they see is the abhorring spectacle of lily-choked ponds and tall grass.

"Itís sad," said the office manager of the Pretty Dumb Homeowners Association, who has worked there for eight years and has seen the golf course when it was still a golf course. The manager now likens a tour of the golf course as a "Safari on the Serengeti. It would take a lot of money to bring this back into playing shape," the manager said, as she took a visitor on a golf-cart tour of the course.

"Not too many experienced golf experts involved here." Mike Kahn