'We had no business buying a golf course'

April 19, 2009

Let's say a golf course goes up for sale in your area, and you decide it would be a good idea to convince your local government to buy it and turn it into a public golf course. Who should you call for help selling the idea? Anyone but Heath Kaplan, the city manager for Crandall, Texas.

Oak Trail GC, an 11-hole golf course in Corsicana, Texas (they do things differently in the Lone Star State), closed April 2 after nearly 70 years of operation. It's going to stay closed unless a new owner can be found to pay $1.3 million, which is what the current owner, Tom Hogue, wants for the facility.

Oak Trail's disappointed regulars thought it would be a good idea for the city fathers of Corsicana to buy Oak Trail and make it a municipal course. According to this story in Saturday's Corsicana Daily Sun, that's what they suggested. But before the town's city manager, Connie Standridge, made a bid on Oak Trail, she sought the advice of Kaplan, her counterpart in nearby Crandall. Let's just say Kaplan doesn't think buying a golf course would be such a good idea.

It seems Crandall once bought its own golf course, Creekview, and, well, we'll let Kaplan sum up the experience in his own words:

"Creekview was a financial black hole and almost bankrupted the city of Crandall," said Kaplan. "With this economy as bad as it is and municipalities struggling just to maintain the current year budget expectations, I can't think of a worse thing than to invest money into a golf course ... that's just my advice to another city."

According to the story, Crandall paid $3.1 million for Creekview 10 years ago, and recently sold it for $1.5 million.

"We were hoping it was going to be an economical development tool and lure more people into the city. None of that really panned out for us at all," said Kaplan. "We had no business buying a golf course."

-- G.R.