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Claremont’s only golf course to close after financial audit

The Claremont Consortium has handed down its final decision, the Claremont Golf Course, Inc. will shutdown in early January 2014.

The announcement was made on Wednesday afternoon, a day after an independent audit of the golf course confirmed that the facility’s financial operations are no longer manageable.

According to the audit conducted by Vicente, Lloyd & Stutzman, LLP on September 10, the Claremont Golf Course’s expenses are greater than its revenue, and, should operations continue in their current state of decline, capital revenue will soon run out.

In a statement provided to the COURIER by the golf course’s board of directors on Thursday, September 5, board members stated that revenues from the use of the driving range and golf course have declined approximately 30 percent since 2008 and “has accelerated” within the past 12 months, putting the golf course “in a position of critical financial distress.”

In their latest statement, board members reiterated that the golf course has not made lease payments to the Consortium, owners of the property, since October 2012.

“Those payments have created a liability greater than CGC Inc.’s total current assets,” the board writes in their statement. “Given these factors, CGC Inc.’s Board has determined, sadly, that CGC Inc. must bring its operations to a close.”

Rumors of the potential closure began circulating in recent weeks after several instructors alleged they were told to stop booking golf classes in the latter part of this year. In phone calls with the COURIER, however, Consortium board members and golf course manager Dennis Bishop denied the potential closure. They later reversed their statement, informing the public in that the board would be “re-assessing its options, including the possible closure of the course” with a final decision expected later this year. The announcement, however, came only 3 weeks later.

Most troubling to frequenters of the Claremont Golf Course is the effect the closure will have on students and seniors who rely on this recreational facility. Thousands of golfers—ranging from children to seniors—have used the local course for annual youth clinics and tournaments. A number of local schools, including Claremont High School, depend on the course to maintain their golf programs. Patients from Casa Colina have traveled to the course for rehabilitation and students from the Claremont Colleges have taken advantage of the course for academic credit.

The golf course board has requested that the Consortium allow them the chance to use the golf course over the next 4 months in order to fulfill its obligation to the CHS girls golf team, students at the colleges, golfers of the fall youth clinic and others who have purchased promotional passes. The board has given “a notice of its desire for an orderly shutdown” to the Consortium, however, as of press time approval of that request had not been confirmed.

The land used for the Claremont Golf Course, which operates under a conditional-use permit from the city, is currently designated as educational zoning, Mr. Bishop noted. Despite requests for comment, the Consortium did not respond to what the colleges plan to do with the land after the golf carts stop running.  

The closure of the 9-hole course and driving range brings to an end more than 100 years of golfing in Claremont. Golf facilities have been a staple in the community since around 1900, first with the Indian Hill Golf Club off Foothill, where the botanic garden now resides. Financial distress and lack of maintenance forced that course’s shutdown after WWII, but in 1960 golfers rejoiced once more with the opening of a second community course, the Claremont Golf Course. Golfers will have until December 2013 to take up their clubs and continue golfing through the hillside range of this Indian Hill Boulevard facility.

—Beth Hartnett

news@claremont-courier.com

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