'Golf course view' deteriorating in Garland community

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by JONATHAN BETZ

WFAA

Posted on October 19, 2010 at 8:58 PM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 20 at 12:44 AM

Oakridge Country Club

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GARLAND — Concern is growing in a Garland neighborhood after a golf course suddenly shut down.

The Oakridge Country Club filed for bankruptcy on October 13 — the day after it announced to its members it was closing its doors.

"It's horrible; this was a wonderful little community," said member Jeff Stone. He lives on the course and was president of the country club's Board of Governors for nearly five years until he resigned in January.

"I've been a member here since 1982, before the clubhouse was even built," he said. "This is the lowest I’ve ever seen — absolute lowest."

Financial problems have plagued the club for months. In recent weeks, neighbors said the grounds have not been maintained.

The clubhouse is closed, and on Tuesday, workers were beginning to drain the algae-filled pool.

Most of the fairways are overgrown and the grass on the greens has turned brown.

Stone, who is also a real estate agent, said the fading 18-hole golf course is dragging down the neighborhood. He points to several homes that have sat on the market for months.

The owners of one two-story home sitting on the course recently dropped its price by $20,000.

"There are more houses out here for sale than I've seen in a long, long time," Stone said. "They’re not moving right now; usually the golf course is a plus!"

Jeff Silverstein, chairman of Oakridge owner IRI Golf Group, did not return calls for comment.

The San Diego-based company owns and manages golf courses all over the country. Problems have been reported at other IRI clubs, including The Shores Country Club in Rockwall. Neighbors there filled a City Council meeting earlier this year furious about a lack of upkeep.

Stone says the trouble at Oakridge began when IRI took over about five years ago and started selling one-time memberships for up to $20,000.

"He's just taking the money and bleeding the country club," Stone said.

Members say the club continued selling memberships up until it shut down, never revealing it was facing financial problems.

"They knew situation at this course, but they continue to sell memberships and they get money," said member Yool Chun. The Carrollton man recently joined and convinced his friends a few weeks ago to spend $400 on six-month memberships.

"They threw their money away," Chun said. "I feel kind of ashamed to my friends."

Still, he and others continue to play on the closed course, trying, he says, to get what he paid for. It is a challenging feat since crews removed the flags and filled in the holes.

All of it troubles Stone, who worries the course will continue to drag down the neighborhood unless a new buyer steps in.

"When you start looking out on the golf course and watching it get run down, it makes you angry," he said. "You shouldn't get angry when you come home."

E-mail jbetz@wfaa.com

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