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City mulls Indian Creek golf course buy
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Poll Question:
Should Covington officials explore buying the now-closed Indian Creek Golf Club, either to operate as a golf course, or to use as the future site of a civic center?

Yes, but only if kept a golf course - 91
Yes, but only if used as a civic center site - 70
No, this should not be explored - 138

Both private and Covington officials are exploring the possibility of purchasing the recently-closed Indian Creek Golf Club, but a local golf course owner says that could be an expensive proposition.

The 178-acre Indian Creek course is rumored to be priced at anywhere between $1 million and $1.9 million, according to Dick Schulz, owner of The Oaks Golf Course, but he said Friday the larger cost would be the nearly $3 million in improvements to get the course in good operating condition.

Indian Creek co-owner Bryan Raines said Wednesday that a local group of private investors were in preliminary negotiations to buy the course and were "very interested."

The course is being sold because it was not profitable in the current economy.

While the group of investors would continue to operate the property as a golf course, it's unclear if the city would be interested in the land to be used as a golf course, as a site for a future civic center and greenspace or in a combined fashion.

"City staff and some elected officials have had some informal talks about the (Indian Creek) golf course," said City Manager Steve Horton Wednesday.

Councilman Keith Dalton first publicly mentioned the city's interest a week ago. He said Finance Director Leigh Anne Knight was possibly in the process of checking out the price for the course. The city went into executive session to discuss land acquisition at Tuesday's council meeting, and Knight was present.

"Knowing what property has sold in the past, if the numbers work out, I figure it would be great investment," Dalton said Wednesday. "I didn't think the original site of the civic center was that good of an idea because there's not much land around. If you bring in a crowd, where are you going to park it? Whenever there's anything community wise on square, parking is a nightmare."

Raines father, Tom, and other investors originally purchased the golf course in Jan. 2001 for $2.93 million, according to the Newton County Tax Assessor's website.

"The big track of land could be used for an amphitheatre, a civic center, there are lots of options," Dalton said.
Dalton is referring to the 80 acres of land off the Covington ByPass Road that houses the clubhouse, driving range and parking lot. Assuming the price is reasonable, Dalton said the land could have many uses.

"There is demand for space for meetings, weddings, anniversaries. With the club house, we could serve the public; it wouldn't (different) from all the ball fields we have now. What does it do for economic development for that to be shut down."

If the city purchased the land, it would no longer produce any property tax revenue.

Future costs
Schulz said he would love to own a second golf course in Newton County and operate them together, but he said the purchase is a risky proposition.

Schulz owns The Oaks, has taught golf course management courses and has studied numerous golf courses over the years. He did a one-day walk-through of Indian Creek for a group of people from the state of Georgia who were interested in the course.

"The things that needed to be fixed just made it impossible to be a good investment. If you're looking at from an investment standpoint, it would not return on its investment for 10 to 20 years," Schulz said. "There so much infrastructure, things you can't see, that need to be fixed or repaired.

"I would love to buy it, and have two courses this close, but I don't have $2-3 million to get up to speed. Not only the price, but the operating cost; it's not the most efficient design concerning layout."

Schulz shared his breakdown of the costs needed to get the course up and running:
- $1.3 million or more to build a new clubhouse; Schulz said the existing clubhouse would need major renovations and noted some sections are out of code
- $1 million in new maintenance equipment
- $225,000 for a new fleet of carts (which need to be replaced every few years)
- $100,000 to change the greens to a green that requires less maintenance
- $100,000 to repair the pump stations that bring water from the quarry across the ByPass Road to the course's irrigation system
- $75,000 to expand and repair maintenance building
- $50,000 to rewire and remodel the golf cart storage building.

Schulz said there are also problems with the irrigation piping system that runs under the course and said some piping would have to be replaced, which would cost money and temporarily shut down some holes for play.

Conyers took over operation of the Cherokee Run Golf Club in late 2010 and budgeted $2 million to rehabilitate and operate the course, according to sister-paper The Rockdale News. The course had to be closed down for several weeks for repairs.

According to the original story, budgeted repairs included $300,000 for irrigation repairs, $150,000 for bunker repairs, $87,000 to renovate the clubhouse, $261,022 for the lease-purchase of 65 golf carts and $18,857 for the lease-purchase of three John Deere tractors.

The 18-hole golf course is listed on Hilda W. Allen Real Estate at

Public greenspace
"If it didn't stay a golf course, it would make phenomenal park," Schulz said. "There are seven miles of cart trails. People could walk, there'd be open green areas, a filter for environment. People could have picnics.

"If you could maintain at minimal would be expensive to maintain in current situation, you couldn't maintain the greens or bunkers."

However, Raines said earlier he would like to see Indian Creek remain a functional golf course if at all possible.