Leader Blues

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

TOP STORY >>Sherwood hiring golf expert

IN SHORT: Consultant tells committee that the North Hills Country Club could become a profitable entity for the city.

By HEATHER HARTSELL
Leader staff writer

The city of Sherwood should know within a month’s time how much money it would take to bring North Hills Country Club up to par if the city manages to keep control of the property.

Mayor Dan Stedman hired Texas firm, WPD Golf Management and Consulting on Monday after Bill Dowling, president and founder of WPD, addressed the golf course committee saying he believed the 90-acre golf course could be a profitable entity for the city within two years.

Dowling said it would take about three weeks for a due diligence study to be conducted, after which a business plan, marketing study and cost study would be able to tell council members if the project was worthwhile.

“I firmly believe an amenity like the golf course in the town of Sherwood would be a good thing,” Dowling said. “The facility can be brought back, no question; but do a due diligence before you jump into the frying pan,” he told committee members.
The council in March granted the mayor the power to sign with a company to do a feasibility study, which falls under the heading of professional services and therefore does not have to go out for bid.

Dowling’s study will cost about $25,000 with travel expenses for the team of four to complete and will show how much money will have to be spent to turn the golf course back into a profitable entity.

A big positive for the golf course, Dowling told the committee, is that North Hills is a Robert Trent Jones, Sr., golf course and to market it as such. Jones, an acclaimed golf course architect, has designed courses in all 50 states.

“I’ll be totally shocked if it (the feasibility study) doesn’t come back as a positive,” Dowling said, adding the property today is not worth anywhere near the selling price.

The 90 acres has supposedly been sold to a group that wants to turn the golf course and clubhouse into a high-end gated community of $400,000 to $500,000 homes. No plans for the proposed subdivision have been submitted to the city yet.

The property closing is said to take place April 14. The current owners have said they plan to turn the water off May 1. The mayor envisioned the green space becoming a miniature Burns Park as the acreage not only includes the golf course, but also a swimming pool, tennis courts and the clubhouse. If the land becomes a housing development then Sherwood could become the only city of its size in the state without a golf course within its city limits.

Members of the committee include Aldermen Becki Vassar and Keith Rankin, City Attorney Steve Cobb, Linda Nickle form the city’s economic development department, City Engineer Michael Clayton, Parks and Recreation director Sonny Janssen and Cheryl Ferguson with the city’s advertising and promotion department.