February 29, 2012 | LXXI, No. 48

Majority owners won’t open golf course this year

Not enough members, club insolvent

Members were informed by email last week that Banks Lake Golf and Country Club will not open this year.

The announcement was made by Russ and Ida Horn, managing partners of the course. The email stated that the course would revert back to Port District 7, which leases the land of the 18-hole course to golf shareholders.

Port Commissioner Larry Maier heard about the decision Friday and Port Commission Chairman Oroville Scharbach still hadn’t heard early Monday, but the news was spreading through the community like wildfire. Commissioner, Stan Conklin is wintering in Arizona and couldn’t be reached.

Port District Secretary Kary Byam received a letter from Horn in which Horn stated: “This decision was made due to the financial insolvency of the Club, along with other issues such as, no individuals are willing to be on the board of directors and manage the business.”

Horn went on to say he planned to call Byam to discuss transistion plans that would enable the Horns to exit the facility in a way that minimizes any damage to the course due to lack of maintenance and care. He said the course is insured through March 31.

Horn sent along a list of members paid up both for play and cart storage leases.

“I’m very proud of these individuals however, there just wasn’t enough of them to keep the Club in operation,” he wrote. “If for any reason the Port District decides to manage the course this year, I ask that you find it in your heart to honor these individuals’ membership, for they are the true heroes of the community. If it wasn’t for them, the Club’s obligation to the Port District would not of been paid last fall.”

There were 39 on the list of paid-up members.

Commissioners got formal announcement from Horn by way of a registered letter Monday stating that as of March 31, or sooner, the course would go back to the port district.

Golf officials had scheduled a meeting with the chamber of commerce for this Thursday to go over plans for the year. That meeting was cancelled.

The golf course has been having trouble paying its bills, and the port has notified the golf board on several occasions over the past year to get caught up on such bills as irrigation water usage and lease payments. Each time, course managers have scrambled to collect money to get caught up.

One member had stated that only recently he was called to make advance payment on this year’s membership dues.

This past season, golf course managers had to scrimp on water usage and fertilizer — and the course suffered. A number of local golfers took out memberships at Wilbur’s nine-hole course.

Neither Maier nor Scharbach had any idea what was going to happen.

Maier said, “It’s up to the golf board. The Horns have 95 percent of the shares and want the Port Distrtict to run it for them. If we don’t have a clear slate, I wouldn’t vote for it.”

However, the Horns, who have pumped a lot of money into the course in hopes of making it profitable, indicated they were going to walk away.

There was some speculation that the Horns set the timing a month away to see if local golfers would come up with their own solution.

The news came as a blow to local golfers who have been loyal to the course. Spring golf was to start March 1, or as soon as there was no frost on the greens. A number of golfers had already paid their annual memberships for this year, and the news has caught them by surprise.

Phone calls to Horn were not returned.

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