I have followed this situation with The Lakes Golf Course closing very carefully for the last several months. Even though I do not live near The Lakes, I was an annual member of Club West for 17 years, and I live on the Foothills Golf Club golf course, both Gee properties. When they closed Club West for the summer a few years back I moved my annual membership to Whirlwind Golf Club as they have two golf courses which to play and are very financially sound. Now the problem as I see it, is Mr. Gee has made a sound business decision to close The Lakes because it wasn’t profitable and was draining financial resources from his other properties. Folks, this is capitalism at its finest. If a business is failing and the owner has the opportunity to turn his financial situation around by selling the business for a profit, he should do it. I would do it, and you should do it if you had the opportunity.
Now, if all of you had supported The Lakes by playing there and paying a reasonable green fee, this probably would never have happened. It is my understanding that there are 5,000 properties which could be affected by this closing. That being said, if each household had played just one round of golf a month each year, 12 times in a year, that would equate to 60,000 rounds played by the community. Add in another 40,000 rounds played annually by people living in other Ahwatukee communities such as the Foothills, Club West, Lakewood and Mountain Park Ranch, as well as our valued winter visitors, the course could possibly generate 100,000 rounds per year. I would suspect that Mr. Gee would see the course as a viable operation if it was generating that kind of play at a reasonable green fee. But, the people of Ahwatukee didn’t play the course enough, so he had to make a wise decision about his investment and to cut his losses, he found a willing and able buyer, and is now going to sell the property.
I keep seeing comments about open space, lakes, wildlife, etc., but remember folks, a privately owned golf course is private property and a private business. You can’t use the space unless you pay for it, and if you don’t pay for it, it could close. Since I live on The Foothills, I would not want to see it close, but if it did, it’s a chance I chose to take when I purchased my home. Nothing stays the same forever, and as an avid golfer, 200-plus rounds per year, I know the difficulties the golf industry has had. I chose to take my membership outside of Ahwatukee and I am thrilled with my decision, but I would also understand the economic realities of the golf industry, if the course I live on closed. Mr. Gee didn’t run these courses into the ground, that was started over several ownership groups which owned these courses. He was able to buy these courses at a tremendous discount, and put a management team into place to turn them around. So far that hasn’t happened and turnarounds sometimes fail, so sell the property and get a profit, that’s why he is in business. If the residents of our village, Ahwatukee, had supported the local courses, maybe, just maybe, this situation would not have happened. We live in a society based on capitalism, and that is why we live in the greatest country on earth. Don’t excoriate a man for making a profit, he is just a businessman trying to make it work.