Company proposes to reopen golf course in the Augusta area, but there is a catch

Company proposes to reopen golf course in the Augusta area, but there is a catch

Plans to revive the old Jones Creek Golf Club course could be threatened unless its former clubhouse, under separate ownership, becomes part of the development deal.

The course in Evans’ Jones Creek subdivision closed in September 2018. In 2019, the course’s clubhouse and adjoining parking lot were purchased by homebuilder Mark Herbert’s company MBH Holdings, and the building continued to be leased to a business catering while the field itself, still looking for a new owner, fell into disrepair and subsequent foreclosure. The course was not sold at a public auction in October 2020.

Now, Herbert is asking Columbia County to change the zoning designation of his property so that it can only be used as “event, hospitality and meeting space; restaurant space; and catering and kitchen space.” According to the petition, the building could not legally be allowed to function as a golf clubhouse.

But golf event services company Bond Golf Global has told Jones Creek HOA about its interest in helping rebuild the 48-year-old course into a “full-scale training facility” to open in September, partnering with veteran golf pro Darren May of golf. development company Black Cat Athlete. The plan is to “have Jones Creek fully operational by the end of 2024” with a reopened golf course, Bond Golf founder Andrew Brooks wrote in a letter to the HOA.

That course, Brooks said, will need a clubhouse.

The clubhouse “is the core of the golf course, providing a natural center and meeting place for golfers and the community, with its parking and storage areas designed for the golf course,” he noted. “It would be very important for the clubhouse to be part of the development plans. If the clubhouse is separated and rezoned off-site, it makes the sale of the golf course and existing plans for the academy very difficult to navigate, reducing the potential for a future for the Jones golf course. Creek”.

Harry Revell, a lawyer for the course’s current owner, Julian Saul, agreed. Many legitimate buyers and “lots of bottom feeders” have expressed interest in buying the property over the years, but all negotiations have stalled. Bond Global had emerged as a new bright spot, and Saul has supported the company’s work thus far in trying to revamp the Jones Creek golf facility.

“We were very optimistic that we would have a deal, but the clubhouse killed it, because without exception, everyone who expressed an interest in buying the property should have the clubhouse,” Revell said Sunday. “It just won’t work without the clubhouse.”

The clubhouse at Jones Creek Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia will not be part of the auction. (File photo from the Augusta Chronicle)

What are the complications?

Dozens of members of the Jones Creek Home Owners Association packed chambers Sunday afternoon at the Evans Government Complex to learn more about Herbert’s rezoning application and its potential impact on the future of the golf course.

County Manager Scott Johnson, whom the HOA invited to their meeting, told residents it was “almost a duty” for Herbert, as the property’s new owner, to seek rezoning of the property so he can use it however he wants. .

Other ownership factors complicate ownership. While the golf course has one owner, Saul, and the clubhouse has another owner, Herbert, the pool and tennis courts at Jones Creeks are owned by the HOA. The only access to those amenities is through loosely defined easements across the private clubhouse property.

“As far as I know, that easement is not defined. That’s a problem, and I’m telling you all this up front because I feel like it’s a problem for you,” Johnson said. “If you really wanted to get down to business, if MBH Holding said, ‘You can’t trespass my property to go to the pool or the tennis courts,’ and he put up gates, I don’t know, there’s a lot you could do. It has an easement but it is not a defined easement. What we really need is a defined easement.”

Tripp Nanney, president of the Jones Creek HOA, said 79% of those polled disapproved of the clubhouse’s proposed rezoning, according to a survey he recently sent out to residents. He said he will present those results to members of the Columbia County Planning Commission, who will vote to approve or deny Herbert’s rezoning request on February 2, and to members of the full Board of Commissioners, who are expected to give their final approval or rejection of the proposal. application February 21.

“I’d like to think that our collective voice would make a big difference on that,” Nanney said. “We’ll see.”

Revels said that in his professional dealings with the county, “I am convinced that the commissioners, all of them, want to see a golf course in Jones Creek.” However, adding his opinion outside of his professional capacity, “if someone else buys this property, succeeds in rezoning it, and puts something on there that is commercially viable, whatever it is, they will never have a golf course here, ever. ”

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The story originally appeared on GolfWeek

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