Just weeks after the property closing, the new owner of Weatherwax Golf Course has scheduled a complete liquidation sale as well as private property sale of the 450-acre parcel in Madison Twp.
Hamilton auctioneer Myron Bowling said plans for the equipment liquidation sale and private property sale are being made for Nov. 15, but it will be business as usual at the golf course until Nov. 2.
The $1.6 million sale of the 36-hole Weatherwax Golf Course closed Sept. 4, when the property was transferred from the city of Middletown to Weatherwax Holdings LLC, which is owned by Bowling. It could not be transferred sooner as the Sebald Park sale hadn’t closed and necessitated Bowling to lease the golf course from the city and re-lease to the golf course operators until Middletown and Butler County MetroParks worked out the details for that sale.
The city and MetroParks closed on that transaction on Monday afternoon, according to City Manager Doug Adkins, via email.
“There is a chance that it will continue to operate,” Bowling said. “There is some interest to re-lease it for next year. But, it’s not definite … They’ll have to move fast.”
He said the auction has been scheduled for Nov. 15, unless someone leases it for 2015.
“If you want it to stay a golf course, then go out and golf,” Bowling said. “It’s arithmetic. It’s simple.”
He said engineering was under way to subdivide the land into very large tracts but that it would not be subdivided to put in four houses per acre.
Bowling’s website has the auction scheduled and has listed the golf course property for sale as well as 125 golf carts; tee, fairway, greens mowers; tractors, John Deere Gators; a backhoe; a Range picker; beverage service carts; and lawn and maintenance tools that will be on the auction block.
Earlier this year, Bowling, who does not golf, said his goal was to make Weatherwax, which has operated in the red, profitable by making improvements and reducing costs. His purchase offer was one of two that the city received for the golf course.
Dave Tieman, who manages the golf course, said liquidation sale signs went up late last week.
He said that he won’t be signing a new lease when the current one expires Nov. 2.
Tieman said in addition to regular play, the golf course also hosted about 25 junior and high school tournaments and about 30 outings a year.
“I’ve been here 21 years and I hate to see this happen,” Tieman said. “But that’s the condition of the golf industry and the golf industry is pretty bad now.”
He said Weatherwax’s location wasn’t close enough to enough people who might want to golf. Once the golf course closes, Tieman, 55, said four full-time and more than 30 part- employees will be out of jobs, including himself.
“It’s just hitting home for me,” Tieman said. “I’m looking for a job in or out of golf. I’ve got some work to do.”
Middletown officials are hoping to reduce its budget with the sale of the course before 2015. The course was operating at a $150,000 deficit, which did not include the $250,000 annual debt payment for past improvements, said former city manager Judy Gilleland earlier this year.
Adkins told this newspaper that moving forward, the city will save between $200,000 and $400,000 a year by not operating the golf course. A debt from 1996 will be paid off from the proceeds as well as paying off the lease for golf carts for an amount of about $1 million.