The city of Albany has been asked whether it wants to buy the Golf Club of Oregon, and the answer — so far anyway — is no thanks.
City Manager Peter Troedsson reported the offer in his weekly summary to the city council on Friday. “Municipal courses typically require considerable subsidies for their operations and maintenance, resources that we don’t currently have,” he wrote. “Therefore, (Parks and Recreation Director) Ed Hodney has responded, advising that the City has no interest in purchasing the property to continue its operation as a municipal course at this time. However, Ed did advise the agent that other entities may be interested in the property for purposes other than golf and that he would pass the information to other parties, including Benton County.”
The sale offer, in the form of a letter from Salem real estate broker Tom Hall, was for $1,560,000 “with possible terms and owner training of future staff.”
The 102-acre, 18-hole course at 905 Spring Hill Drive N.W. (not to be confused with the Spring Hill Golf Club farther north), has been in existence since 1929. Jerry Claussen has owned it since 1977 and, at age 83, operates it still.
The operation’s goal, Claussen said in testimony for a property tax appeal in 2010, was “to make golf affordable in a blue-collar town.”
Current fees for 18 holes range from $16 to $32 depending on the age of the player, the day of the week, and time of day. Discounts are available, up to 50 percent off for 50 rounds.
In the tax case, decided in April 2011, the judge cited an annual revenue forecast of $650,000 and operating income of $136,500. Benton County had assessed the course’s property value at $1.5 million, and the judge lowered it to $1.2 million. For 2018, the property tax bill is $15,213.
On Saturday, I found Claussen behind the counter in the golf course shop. He told me that golf had declined in popularity over the years, not just here but across the U.S. He wondered what the renewed success of Tiger Woods might mean for that trend.
The Golf Course of Oregon is in the Willamette River flood plain and outside the city limits. It is bounded by the river, Spring Hill Drive, and the long curved trestle of the Portland & Western Railroad.
This isn’t the first time the course has been offered to the city. Back in the 1980s, Albany declined a similar opportunity.
You don’t have to be a golfer to appreciate the carefully tended course, and to hope that nothing happens to jeopardize this beautiful wooded landscape just across the river from downtown. (hh)