Operator drops pursuit of Holmes Harbor Golf Course

Patrick Kent of Tukwila dropped his pursuit of running the Holmes Harbor Golf Course.  - Ben Watanabe / The Record
Patrick Kent of Tukwila dropped his pursuit of running the Holmes Harbor Golf Course.
— image credit: Ben Watanabe / The Record

Mum’s the word about a deal to operate long tee-less Holmes Harbor Golf Course that fell through.

Patrick Kent of Seattle said he could not comment on his proposed deal to run the greens and pro shop at Holmes Harbor Golf Course, other than he was no longer pursuing it.

“That’s about all I can give you at this point,” Kent said.

In April, he briefly spoke with the Holmes Harbor Sewer District board. He told them he had a business plan and was excited to work out a deal with current owners Kevin Hanchett and Mike Cooper for the maintenance facility.

The three-party deal between the owners, the sewer district and Kent fell through after Kent withdrew his proposal. At the time of his first appearance before the sewer board and in an interview with The Record, he proposed a community-centered course. While still privately-owned, it was not planned to be an exclusive club like South Whidbey’s other 18-hole course, Useless Bay Golf & Country Club.

Left without a course operator, the sewer district is left mowing and managing the drainage of the course, which operates as the irrigation system for the golf course homes’ treated wastewater.

“We have no other operator lined up to do that,” said Stan Walker, president of the Holmes Harbor Sewer District. “We’re back to square one.” The district planned to purchase the golf course property and let someone else operate it while paying the annual $70,000 in maintenance costs for the grounds.

“We are not going to give up on this until we are absolutely certain of our course,” Walker said.

The new “square one” idea for the golf course is turning it into a public park. Earlier in the process, the sewer district asked the South Whidbey Parks & Recreation District to evaluate running the course. Without an interested party stepping forth, the sewer board again looks to the parks district.

“They look at it very realistically, and the way government runs is inherently more expensive than a private entity,” Walker said.

“I do not expect that the course is open this year.”

Doug Coutts, the recently hired director of South Whidbey Parks & Recreation District, said he was not ready to comment on the parks’ evaluation of the golf course. He acknowledged that the sewer board asked the parks district to evaluate running the course. Taking on the course as a public park, however, is not a simple transfer of title, and the parks budget — at its current revenue — can not pay to operate a golf course.

“There’s not much we can add without adding some sort of funding,” Coutts said.

At the earliest, golfers could tee off Holmes Harbor in early 2014, if the parks district agrees to run the course.

The sewer district has to maintain the greens and fairways for its treated wastewater. Holding ponds rise with heavy rains and drop in the summer months. When the ponds are high with treated water, the course is irrigated for about $4,000 per month, Walker said.

“The difference between just mowing it and mowing it as a golf course is probably $1,500,” he said. “You don’t save a lot of money to not keep it available.”

“We have to mow it, we don’t have a choice about that."

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