After months of waiting The Lakes Golf Course has closed its doors, but the future of the course still remains unknown.
“Our business has dropped off considerably at this point so we decided to go ahead and cut our losses,” said Terry Duggan, president of Foothills Golf Group, in an email. “No idea on the future other than we would like to see it redeveloped.”
Wilson Gee, owner of the property at 13431 S. 44th St., met with homeowners during a Save the Lakes meeting last October and said if he could not get community support to develop half the course into high-end condominiums he would be forced to close the course on June 1. The course was officially closed on Monday, May 6 instead.
Ben Holt, president of Save the Lakes Inc., a group whose mission is to enforce the community CC&Rs which state that the property must be operated as a golf course, said he has not heard from Gee since that meeting in October.
Legally, there is nothing Save the Lakes can do at this point. The group cannot force Gee to continue running a business that he says is not profitable. The group is prepared to go to court if Gee attempts to move forward with developing the land.
“He owns the business and he can close the business at will just like any business on the street can close if they decide it’s not in their best interest to operate,” Holt said. “We can legally enforce the CC&Rs, but there’s nothing in the CC&Rs that would require him to operate if he chooses not to. He just can’t change the use of the land. His options are operate it or close it or enter into some sort of legal battle with Save the Lakes and all the residents in an attempt to change the CC&Rs. That may be his next step, I don’t know.”
Holt said he has heard some rumors about the future of the course, but so far nothing official. He is planning a meeting of Save the Lakes for sometime in the future, possibly after the summer, to discuss the closing. Registered members should receive notice by email. For now it’s still a waiting game.
“We know that he closed the course in 2009 for two months in the summer because the amount of play on the golf course is much less in the summer than in the winter,” Holt said. “At this point the best thing to happen in our minds is he (Gee) would turn around come September or October and start maintaining the course and operate it again next winter and maybe decide to do that every year. Maybe he’ll run it as a winter-only golf course, shut it down in May and do minimal maintenance and open it again come winter. I don’t know if that’s in his mind or if he’s even considering it.”
The Lakes Golf Course has been removed from the Ahwatukee Golf Properties website, ahwatukeegolf.com. The other courses owned by Gee, Ahwatukee Country Club, Club West Golf Club, The Duke Golf Club and Foothills Golf Club, will not be affected by the closing of The Lakes.
For now, the course will be maintained to meet city codes. Residents have complained about dead trees and grass on the property. Duggan has said they’re working closely with the city of Phoenix to make sure the property is maintained and the delay has been in getting the best equipment to handle the cleanup.
For more information on Save the Lakes, email Ben Holt at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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