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Orchards Golf Course in West Lawrence sold, renamed CobbleStone Golf Course
With weather like this, it soon will be time to hit the golf course. (For my golfing buddy, that also means it will be time to hit course-side houses, vehicles passing by the course, and innocent bystanders in the next fairway over.)
Now, you have a new option to do all of that — sort of. The Orchards Golf Course — in between Kasold and Iowa on Bob Billings Parkway — has been sold and changed its name. It is now operating as CobbleStone Golf Course. (That sounds appropriate for my buddy. He is constantly trying to cobble together a swing, and the people who have the misfortune of playing behind us often want to stone him.)
Richard McGhee, a Topeka resident and retired executive from Blue Cross Blue Shield, finalized his purchase of the course from longtime owner Ed White last week.
McGhee — who owns the course with his wife, Chris — said his plans simply are to keep the course in as nice a shape as possible and market the facility to people who are looking for a quicker round of golf.
The course is a short, nine-hole facility that was built to serve as an “executive golf course.” Depending on your skill, the course is designed to be played in less than two hours.
“We are interested in catering to people who like a shorter course,” McGhee said. “That might be youth or high school players or senior citizens or anybody in the middle. I’ve had some people tell me they go in a half-hour early to work, stay a half-hour late, take an extra 45 minutes for lunch and they can justify playing a round of golf out here over their lunch break.” (My buddy tried combining eating and golfing once. A golf ball ended up in a living room, and, well, I won’t even tell you where the hot dog ended up.)
Rates at the new course are $16 for weekend play, walking. On weekdays, the rate drops to $11, and McGhee is offering a $10 weekday rate for high school students and seniors.
Terms of the Orchards sale weren't disclosed, but the property previously had an asking price of $385,000.
McGhee, who is new to the business of owning a golf course, said he bought the property to operate as a golf course. That’s a good thing because there is a covenant on the course’s property that calls for it to forever be a golf course or else become open space.
Neighbors around the course several years ago banded together to pay former owner White development rights for the course. At the time, White had put the property on the market and was considering offers from developers who wanted to convert the course into a residential development.
The golf business may get interesting in Lawrence again. Business has picked up at the city’s Eagle Bend Golf Course. The course below the Clinton Lake Dam turned an operating profit in 2012 of $27,000 — which means its revenue was that much above its expenses, not including its debt payment.
But I think everybody in the local golf industry will be watching with interest what happens in northwest Lawrence. As we previously have reported, the Arkansas-based company that has proposed The Links project seems serious about actually building it this year. The property would be just east of the proposed Rock Chalk Park sports village at Sixth and the SLT. The project would include a nine-hole golf course surrounded by 630 apartments.
Tenants of the apartment will have green fees included in their rent. What will be interesting to see is if The Links also allows public play on the course. The company has allowed that at some of their other properties around the country. Either way, it seems like the new course will take some rounds away from some area courses.
The project has its necessary zoning and major development approvals, so if the company is serious, I would think work would begin in the near future.