There will be no golfing this winter at Club West.
Owner Wilson Gee said that with a bankruptcy end-run around his foreclosure not completely resolved and – more significantly – untold damage to the course’s irrigation system, over-seeding the Club West Golf Course for play this year is virtually impossible.
“It is lost for this season,” Gee told AFN.
Although his lawyers have asked federal bankruptcy court to toss out a request by the former owner, Inter Tribal Golf Association and CEO Richard Breuninger, to reconsider a bid to maintain ownership of the course, “the judge hasn’t closed the door.”
More importantly, Gee said, 200 irrigation heads were discovered on the site, “and we don’t even know where they belong.”
Deprived of water since the city shut off service in February for a delinquent bill now totaling close to $300,000, the pond that feeds the irrigation system has dried up and needs a new liner.
“We can’t test the system until we put water in the pond, and we’d be throwing away $300,000 if we filled the pond without a liner,” said Gee.
The only good news amid the continuing bad news surrounding the course is that Lloyd Melton has agreed to keep Biscuits Restaurant open while Gee’s crew sorts through the mess.
Gee’s announcement comes as little surprise, since he had said more than a month ago that the window for overseeding the course and returning its lush landscape was small even if his foreclosure had gone through as scheduled on Aug. 4.
On the day before Gee had scheduled a trustee sale of a $1.3 million note Breuninger had signed to buy the course last Dec. 1, ITGA filed for bankruptcy, delaying foreclosure for at least two weeks.
Although the bankruptcy court threw out ITGA’s bankruptcy petition for failure to file required paperwork, Breuninger’s lawyer filed a request that it be reinstated.
That request asserts that Breuninger has an unnamed party ready to buy the course, though Gee said, “If he can buy the course, why doesn’t he just do it? I’m not stopping him.”
Club West HOA board president Mike Hinz said, “We’ve had no communication from Richard for weeks.”
“We’re operating on the assumption that Wilson owns the course and are working with him,” Hinz said.
Gee said he is unveiling an offer for all Club West residents that will help raise additional funds for the golf course’s revival.
He’s selling at a discount gift certificates of $100 to $1,000 that can be used at any of his other three courses – Foothills, Ahwatukee Country Club or The Duke – for golf, booze or meals.
Gee has a liquor license that allows patrons to buy wine, beer or alcohol for off-premises consumption.
“We don’t want a subsidy from the HOA or anything like that,” said Gee, adding the proceeds for the gift certificate sales would be used toward restoring the course’s irrigation system.
“If they bought a bottle of wine a month, that would be worth their investment,” he added. “If they want something we don’t have, they can also order it in advance and we’ll have it waiting for them.”
Gee said non-residents and non-golfers can buy the gift certificates, noting, “the community has to benefit somehow.”
Hinz said the board is studying the gift certificate idea to determine whether it will promote the sale to residents.
Gee also expressed uncertainty over the prospects for getting water that’s cheaper than the city potable water now used to irrigate Club West.
Ahwatukee businessman Rande Leonard said his plans to lay a line that takr Long Term Storage Credit water stored within SRP’s water territory, leasing SRP wells to recover those storage credits and transporting the recovered water in SRP’s canals/laterals under a transportation agreement that has yet to be worked out.
The pipeline would cross beneath the South Mountain Freeway through a concrete sleeve that the Arizona Department of Transportation is building, and eventually be able to service both Club West and adjacent Foothills Golf Course.
But Gee said so many parties’ permissions are needed for the line, he may start drilling for water on or near Club West property.
Conditions on the course are markedly different from where they were a year ago, when Breuninger was over-seeding the course and paving the way for what became a beautifully green site by November.
He vowed to make the course a focal point for Ahwatukee, with plans for a driving range, flea markets and special events at the site while creating a semi-private golf club where members could enjoy special privileges for an annual fee of between $3,000 and $6,000.
That quickly changed in February.
The city shut off water service, and Breuninger blamed the unpaid bill on the management company he hired to take care of day-to-day activities at the course. In turn, residents who bought club memberships are trying to recoup their fees.
Some who paid the membership fee with a credit card got their bank to reverse payment, though others have filed suit to recoup their loss. Breuninger also fell behind on his monthly $35,000 payments to Gee, prompting Gee to finally schedule the trustee sale.