Like many real estate markets, the one surrounding the city of Salem, Oregon is hot. Since I visited the area in September of 2019, the median sale price for a home has risen close to 37%, from just over $310,000 to $425,000.
One course I visited, the semi-private Creekside Golf Club, sits in a pleasant suburban neighborhood, with homes draped on the hills overlooking a Peter Jacobsen/Jim Hardy-designed course that opened in 1993. But for two holes on the back nine, it is a core golf course that finishes strong, with a spectacular par-3 17th hole whose green sits at the base of a cliff.
My post-round conversation with Creekside's general manager in 2019 suggested that the club had recently turned a corner and was humming along with 600 members who were welcoming some new amenities like pickleball and even a basketball court to the mix, plus a fitting center that had been successful since opening.
Nevertheless, Creekside's owners, Larry Tokarski and Terry Kelly, seem eager to convert the club and its acreage into a new housing development. Per reports in Salem's Statesman Journal newspaper, the pair initially had answered residents' negative reactions to rumors of the club's imminent redevelopment with a proposal: approximately $4.2 million from the surrounding homeowners association in order to buy the course an extra five years of runway. To accomplish this, Tokarski and Kelly proposed to increase HOA dues by $90 per month, in addition to instituting a 1% transfer fee on all home sales within the community.
The additional HOA costs would simply ensure that Creekside remains a golf facility until 2027. It does not convey any level of playing privileges to association members; many who live within the development are already members of the semi-private club.
Even though I played it on a chilly and grey day in 2019, the course left a positive impression on me. Between the walkability of the routing and the solid design, I felt I could be happy playing it regularly. The run of holes 3 through 5 along the course's namesake creek are very intimate and peaceful, helping to make a good first impression. It would be a shame if the golf course went away, especially knowing that the game is in high demand throughout the country.
The association will vote on the HOA dues increase on June 29. The $90 monthly fee will need to be approved by at least two-thirds of the 588 homeowners, while the 1% transfer fee will need 75% approval. If the resolutions fail, Tokarski and Kelly are likely to proceed with a redevelopment plan which could be similar to one they proposed in 2016, for 354 units on the golf course site. While it would bring new housing supply to the Salem market, it would also mean the irreversible removal of the green space and recreation opportunity Creekside provides.
Even though golf has prospered in the last couple of years, the heat of the real estate market may well put more pressure on course owners to cash out.
Other golf course news & notes
PHOENIX MUNI RENOVATIONS BEGIN - Papago Golf Course, the William F. Bell-designed mid-century muni with decades of history serving Phoenix locals - including a legendary weekly skins game - will be undergoing some renovations throughout the summer in order to make way for the construction of the new Arizona Golf House, the home of the state's golf association. The $4-million project will see the 9th and 18th greens moved, as well as the first and 10th tees, with the 6th hole also receiving a new green 20 yards behind the current one. The course will remain open for play during the project, which is expected to be completed in time for the course's post-overseed reopening in late October. [LINK: The Golf Wire]
NEWEST NEW OWNERS - The Fox Club, a Florida course with a colorful ownership history - including, at different points, Jesper Parnevik and some fellow Swedes; Darren Clarke and fellow Northern Irishmen; and New York mafiosi - has recently changed hands, and will be rechristened the Cape Club of Palm City. It joins two Massachussetts clubs - the Cape Club of Sharon and the Cape Club of Falmouth - as part of the Cape Club Collection, and will be closing from July through mid-November to undergo renovations, including new cart paths, improved bunkers (with Augusta-white sand) and some design changes to the par-4 10th and par-5 18th, ultimately reopening as a private club. [LINK: The Golf Wire]
NEXT LIV SITE MEMBERS REVOLT - Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club, the Portland, Ore.-area club where Tiger Woods won the 1996 U.S. Amateur, has seen as many as 40 club members resign recently. The club will host the Saudi Arabia-backed LIV Golf league's second event June 30 through July 2, an agreement members reportedly learned via news reports rather than club communications. Pumpkin Ridge, which features the publicly accessible Ghost Creek course and the private Witch Hollow course, will be the first of two clubs owned by Escalante Golf to host LIV events; the other being The International Golf Club outside Boston. [LINK: Willamette Weekly]
'QUIT PLAYING GOLF WITH MY HEART' (GOLF-ADJACENT) - Backstreet Boys or Backnine Boys? The famous boy-band is back on the road and during an interview prior to a show in Cincinnati, band member A.J. McLean's #1 priority: "Definitely going to find a golf course." [LINK: Cincinnati Enquirer]