Opportunity to buy a 9 hole golf course

Just got a text from a real estate buddy that a 9 hole golf course, which I happened to play for the first time and really enjoy a couple months ago, has recently come on the market. A few details and then I am going to look for some feedback from you guys:

  • $600,000 asking price for 35 acres
    -In Murphy’s, CA Located an hour east of where I live in the “foothills” of the Sierra Nevadas. Murphys is known for their wineries and is very busy in the late spring-fall For those familiar with NorCal, it’s on Highway 4 on the way to Bear Valley. Frog jumping country for you Twain fans. Tourist country, although not a gofing destination. 2 hour drive from Sacramento airport and probably 4 from Bay Area.
  • Course was originally an 18 holer and opened in 1974. Designed by Trent Jones, Jr and Sr. Reduced to 9 holes in 2005. Plays to 4,800 yards if you play the nine holes twice with a par of 66
  • Has faced problems the last few years financially (EDIT: lost $110k in 2018). Not sure why. Didn’t seem to market it much. No IG page, minimal social media. Website sucks. Its a stunning place visually and photographs well.
  • Course name is apropos. Most holes are set in a forest with huge trees with a couple holes in a wide meadow. One par 3 reminds me of Pine Valley (the last picture below)
  • Small proshop, but a nice little bar and patio area for events. It reminds me of Goat Hill with the chill outside atmosphere potential.
  • Course shuts down on a daily basis depending on weather during winter. At about 2,000 feet winters are chilly but summers are pretty warm. (EDIT: Course remains open during winter for play, but pro shop and clubhouse are closed. Honor box system)
  • 3 of the “old” 9 holes still exist. Not sure if that is included in purchase price. TBD. (EDIT: yes the 3 lost holes are included. See maps in thread below) Would be great for a short course or make a 12 hole course. You can see them, dried up and to the SouthEast in map below.
  • Although the course is Public, it is set within a private housing development (homes only come into play on one hole) and there is a private gate and guard to go through to get there. Kind of funky.
  • Great spot for weddings, events, etc.

A couple articles on the closure, so you can get a sense of how they ran memberships, etc.:

Some pics:



Ok…that is my summary at this point. My wheels are turning. I would not be able to do this on my own, financially so I would need to fundraise. I would keep it public but sell memberships. Course and shop probably need another $100-$200k in help. I would love to play around with some of the architecture on the course, too. Assuming I get a 50% loan, my monthly loan payment is around $2,100. Assuming I get on average 25 rounds a day at $15 (verrrrrrry conservative) that is $11k/month in green fess. That doesn’t take into account cart fees, F&B, etc.

Things I don’t know right now:

  • Accurate financial summary of operations (EDIT: 2018 was ugly)
  • What the exact property line is so I can see if there is extra land. (EDIT: Got it)
  • What the current state of their “membership” is.
  • How being inside the private housing development affects the course.
  • Can I remove trees?

So…….fellow Refugees, what say you? I welcome all input and questions. Let me know what you think.

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If you don’t mind me asking, would you be looking in to making this a full-time job (what do you do now / what is your experience?), or as a side-hustle to a regular day job?

I’m just more intrigued by living vicariously through you (possibly) and following this thread…one thing that comes to mind for me is water and what you’re allotted and how that can change your ability to renovate and/or maintain

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My professional background: worked for 15 years in the community banking world as a commercial/business loan officer. I wasn’t great at it and got really burnt out and by early this year I was fried. I was dealing with some personal stuff and left my job. I did ok and have a few bucks in the bank, plus the equity in my house which I have owned for 11 years. I would sell my house, and live on property and make it a full time gig.

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We have plenty of people on here with finance backgrounds which could get into details with more depth and knowledge than I could about whether this is a sound investment, so I will keep my thoughts fairly simple:

  1. Having to go through a private complex to play a public golf course is very odd and I would think is a major hurdle. I know that if I saw this (especially with a guard) I would assume it was private and only playable by the people who live there.
  2. I would assume the neighbors are going to fight you tooth and nail on any developments you want to make. People who live in gated communities are not known for loving it when strangers need to roll through them, even if it is to get to a public course. Some of them are probably hoping it is sold and turned into more housing. Is it feasible to create a new, more welcoming entrance?
  3. Do you really want to own property an hour away from where you live? Without any idea of traffic patterns, I would worry being able to get to the property quickly in the event of an emergency, which means you really have to trust the people you hire.
  4. This place has already apparently failed once, otherwise it wouldn’t be for sale. Are you confident your love of golf is enough to overcome it’s obvious problems?
  5. That being said, it’s land in California. Doubt the land will drop in value, even if the course fails a second time.
  6. You would be living a dream, making all of us here very jealous.
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“We bought a golf course?” Someone get @The_Cad_Says on here about a screenplay.

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Brings up a very good point, wonder if you could figure out roughly what it would be worth to the / a developer, and have that as a safety net (have to assume it would be at a loss) but if it doesn’t work out, can you sell it off to a developer and lick your wounds?

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They should have a hydrology report. Key detail to start with. Real estate agent should have that.
Asking price for most existing golf deals are 20-25% over market (I think we discussed Hunter Ranch a little? Same same.)

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You’d want to figure out what water rights the place has.

As far as access through the development, there’s probably an easement agreement so you’d need to review that closely. Hopefully it provides a decent mechanism for getting repairs done and a fair allocation of maintenance expenses.

I’ve heard great things about Saddle Creek in Copperopolis, only 20 minutes away. Perhaps it has taken all the business that used to go to Forest Meadows?

…a lot of freaking due diligence

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  1. It sounds worse than it is. Tell the guard you are golfing and he waves you in, no name or info given. Only thing is guard gate doesn’t open until 730-8 am which I would need to work on for the early birds out there (nothing better than a sunrise round among big trees)
  2. Safe assumption. Although my sense is there a community of golfers within already, as they have fought to keep it open this long
  3. Moot point. I would live on property. I am single with a dog. Give me a 300 square foot shed.
  4. TO answer you question, yes. I am 37 years old, have a sense of what draws people to golf, what deters them, how to market a course, how to diversify a facility, how to make it a FUN place that the community at large wants to spend time at.
  5. Big selling point for me.
  6. My whole deal is to find something I am passionate about. My personal overhead is pretty low. I could make it work based on what I know now. But there is a lot of info I am still gathering.
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Saddle is great, but sort of a different vibe. Mostly “serious” golfers looking for a solid 18 hole experience and a bit less treelined. Initial thoughts on marketing would be to the local community, the wine tourists right next door and people traveling up the road to Bear Valley and looking for a quick 2 hour break.

Thanks, Laz. That convo was the first thing I thought of today.

Going to get deep in the process, trust me

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I trust you.

…when can I buy merch? :wink:

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FWIW - please consider the Some Guy’s Backyard team as potential partners to work on/maintain this place.

With social media and the current golfing landscape, there is some potential to do something here.

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Does the TVA flood the site every few weeks?

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Rob Collins turned a flat little 9 hole course into golf hipster mecca, so it has been done

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I have zero help or input to offer, but excited to follow along and wish you luck!

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So the current owner, Sierra Golf Management, owns and operates 10 golf courses in California…and they’re giving up/walking away. So I guess my biggest thing would be to ask are you confident enough that you’re better at what they do than they are to wager your life savings on a 9-holer they think is a lost cause?

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Buy it, start selling merch, go viral, the rest will take care of itself.

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