By Anne Geggis
The new coronavirus pandemic has claimed another victim — golf at the Woodlands Country Club is closing.
ClubLink, the owner of the course, blamed the closure on the March 24 pandemic emergency order that shuttered all golf courses — along with the general downturn in the public’s golfing interest.
“As a result … we have made the difficult decision to close the golf course indefinitely,” Damian Loughran, ClubLink’s regional director of operations, wrote to Tamarac City Manager Mike Cernech in an email dated July 30.
For the opponents of ClubLink’s plan to sell the greens to a residential developer, though, the announcement seems like another game, another step toward building homes there. The plans have aroused much opposition from Woodlands residents who thought they would always see a swath of green behind their homes.
Broward County lifted the golf shutdown in early May, county records show. But golf carts left the club in April, Woodlands residents say.
“I think it’s a power move,” said Jose Spena, a resident of the Woodlands. “They just want to bend our will. They want to scare us, so we think this is going to rot all around.”
Spena said the sand traps no longer have sand. The edging has gotten more raggedy. All the maintenance has shrunk to just grass-cutting, Spena said.
Commissioner Mike Gelin said he wasn’t surprised to hear about the closure, either.
“These are tough economic times,” said Gelin. “It could also be an opportunity for the owners, given their plans for the golf course.”
Nearby Inverrary Country Club in Lauderhill also announced in April the end of golf there, blaming it on the pandemic shutdown.
ClubLink also owns Heron Bay Golf Course, which straddles Parkland and Coral Springs, where the phones still ring, but no one answers. No one answered the phone at ClubLink’s South Florida office, and a call to its Ontario, Canada offices went unreturned Wednesday. But people were working at ClubLink’s other golfing properties, Eagle Trace in Coral Springs and Palm-Aire in Pompano Beach.
Last April, plans for the Woodlands teed off in front of city officials. The plans call for changing the development rules so that land designated as recreational can be used for homes. ClubLink wants to sell its two, 18-hole greens that add up to 397 acres. The buyer, 13th Floor, envisions nearly 400 homes on that acreage. The plans sailed past the City Commission and now must go before the Broward County Commission.
Pandemic issues have delayed its debut there.
With the county’s approval, though, changing the course to residential use from its current recreational use must go to Tallahassee for state review and then must come back to the Tamarac City Commission for final approval.
Letting the golf course fall into disuse, because of its lack of profitability, is one option that developers have mentioned in front of city and county officials.
The site plan for the development, however, came before Tamarac’s Design Review Board but has not appeared again on any city agendas since then.
Spena says he loves walking around the course now. Three burrowing owls have moved in on the east course: one near the eighth hole, one near the ninth, and still another on the 10th. It’s been fenced off to protect the endangered species.
“I am not going to fall for the scare tactics,” he said, of ClubLink’s decision to bow out of golfing at Woodlands.
He said he’s still holding out hope that a new operator will come in and use the greens for golf.
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- Anne Geggis has been a newspaper reporter for 30 years, most recently at the Sun Sentinel. She graduated from St. Michael’s College in Colchester, Vt., with a double major in journalism and sociology.
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