The Club West Golf Course sale has not been finalized yet and it may be a while before the potential buyers decide to seal the deal.
Former owner Wilson Gee confirmed last week he had reached an agreement to sell the course for $850,000 – less than five months after he put it on the market following his foreclosure on a $1 million note that had been signed in December 2017 by the previous buyer, Richard Breuninger on behalf of his Inter Tribal Golf Association.
But Jon Knudson, who is representing Gee in the transaction, said Thursday, "It is under contract and buyers are going through their due diligence for a lengthy period."
Mike Hinz, president of the Foothills Club West Community Association board, said he has not been told who the new owner is.
“I don’t have any legitimate feedback,” Hinz said, adding that he was aware there had been “a smattering of different inquiries” from individuals and entities interested in potentially buying the course.
One inquiry reportedly came from someone who was interested in putting houses on the course, another source told AFN.
The possible sale would mark the latest chapter in a roller-coaster ride for the course, which disintegrated into barren desert land in 2016, was restored by Breuninger to a lush green site in late 2017 and then wasted away again early last year after ITGA ran afoul of mounting operating debts that included a nearly $200,000 water bill.
There were several bidders on the site, which Gee marketed at $1 million with a requirement that the buyer put up an additional $1 million toward construction of a pipeline that would resolve an enduring problem for the course: access to cheap water.
But it is unclear whether that contingency is still part of the deal. Ahwatukee businessman Rande Leonard, who launched the pipeline project, could not be reached for comment.
Gee said he was confident that the new owners would be working toward reopening the course for play late this year.
He also said there is a separate effort to find water somewhere
Gee in 2016 became embroiled in a dispute with the Phoenix Water Services Department over a delinquent bill exceeding a reported $150,000, prompting the city to cut off water. As a result, the course quickly disintegrated, which in turn prompted the HOA board to sue Gee.
Gee paid that bill but said he could not afford the $700,000 annual cost of city water service.
Leonard has been working for more than a year on a project that would run cheaper water from the Gila River Indian Community via a pipeline that would partially run beneath the South Mountain Freeway and ultimately be a potential source of water to both the Club West course and the Foothills Golf Course if the latter should ever need it.
Foothills is fed by its own wells and HOA President Bill Fautsch has said in the past that those wells are unlikely to run dry for decades.
Club West has been unplayable since late February 2018 after the city cut off water service when Breuninger and ITGA failed to pay close to $200,000 in delinquencies.
At the time, he blamed the management company he had hired to run day-to-day affairs at the course. That company was formed by a onetime associate of Breuninger.
When he had bought the course in the fall of 2017, the Ahwatukee native had promised to make it a focal point for golfers and the community in general. He had reseeded it, signed a deal with Lloyd Melton, the owner of three Biscuits restaurants in the East Valley to open a fourth at the clubhouse and mapped other improvements to the site and its operation.
But those promises and dreams began withering once the city turn off the tap.
About 60 golfers, mostly Club West residents, complained they had been gypped out of thousands of dollars they paid in membership fees for a semiprivate golf club Breuninger start6ed.
A golf cart vendor repossessed all its vehicles.
And businessman William Day complained to the disgruntled golf club members he had been duped out of $350,000 he put up from his own savings to seed the course and buy what he thought was an interest in the course.
The final straw for Breuninger came when he reneged on his monthly payments on the $1 million note to Gee.
Gee tried to foreclose on the note in August, but Breuninger filed a series of maneuvers in federal bankruptcy court in a desperate bid to hold onto the site.
The court eventually threw out his challenge.
Breuninger’s purchase came about a year after Club West resident Jim Lindstrom launched an effort to have residents become investors and buy and run the course.
But Lindstrom abandoned the plan when he failed to get enough residents to sign on.
Ironically, the HOA board sounded out residents in the last few months about purchasing the course, according to Hinz.
He said the board passed a non-binding resolution to look into the possibility of the course, although he added. “I’m not even sure our status as an HOA would allow us to buy it.”
But that effort appears moot in the wake of the sale.
Yet, it also raises a number of new questions regarding the future of the Club West course – including the timetable for getting it into playable shape, how it will be operated, the status of the effort to find cheaper water and whether a restaurant will return to the clubhouse site where Melton operated a Biscuits for about six months.