After weeks of searching for ways to raise enough money to stay afloat, owners of Old Bridge Golf Club plan to close the 18-hole course Saturday.
Bruce Brown, who is the general manager, head golf pro and head of the ownership group since Old Bridge opened in 1989, said the course and restaurant will close for the season with the intention of reopening March 1.
It remains uncertain, though, if the course will be able to reopen in the spring.
“We are going to keep meeting and planning to see if there is anything we can do,” Brown said.
It is the first time the 18-hole semi-private course, on Ky. 34 just outside the city limits of Danville, has shut down during the winter in its more than 20 years of existence.
Brown said golf courses have become increasingly vulnerable to economic and social changes over the last decade, including people re-prioritizing their free time after the attacks of Sept. 11. He said 76 courses closed nationwide last year and the numbers are expected to jump this year.
Earlier this month, Old Bridge Golf Club owners asked residents of Old Bridge subdivision to purchase $600 associate memberships to the course in hope that 100 homeowners would sign up.
Members of Old Bridge Neighborhood Association had expressed concern about what might happen to property values if the course closes permanently and met to discuss the proposal. However, memberships have only risen from 13 to 35 percent, Brown said.
Unlike some subdivisions marketed as golf communities, no dues or membership fees are required of the roughly 140 homeowners.
“We were looking for a little bit more support, but is not the fault of anyone living in Old Bridge by any means,” Brown said. “We never really envisioned that as many people would come to the subdivision who don’t utilize the course.”
Brown and others have been disappointed that county government did not extend Sunday alcohol sales to the golf course, which obtained the ability to sell alcohol by the drink Monday through Saturday by a special referendum. Brown said many people who only have Sunday to enjoy a round of golf and a beer were pushed away when told they couldn’t bring a cooler on the course.
Brown, who is a swing coach for the Centre golf teams and will continue to give indoor lessons while the course is closed, said the ownership will look to other comparable courses for ways to make the operation viable. He said selling the course remains one of the options.
“We are going to try to figure out what’s working and what’s not,” Brown said. “We are going to look for ways to reorganize first.”