While golfing participation soared like an eagle during 2020 and COVID-19, overall it’s a sand trap for investors.
That is why the owners of Sleepy Ridge Golf Course are hoping Orem will extend their partnership agreement an extra 14 years.
Sleepy Ridge has a 40-year lease in which owner Golden Holt can try to recoup his investments rent-free. After the lease is up, the entire course and clubhouse belong to Orem city.
They are now in the 15th year of that agreement, according to Karl Hirst, former Parks and Recreation director.
“All the risk is on Sleepy Ridge,” Hirst said.
The public/private partnership between the golf course and the city is unique.
Sleepy Ridge is not a public course, nor is it subsidized. However, the city is involved.
Orem provided the land and water usage and owner Golden Holt built the infrastructure and clubhouse to the tune of $12 million.
It is that clubhouse, which offers offices and a wedding reception center that brings in the revenues for the course, not the golfing rounds.
Councilman Jeff Lambson, who golfs the links at Sleepy Ridge, noted that “it brings in people from other places and multi-generational golfers.”
Councilwoman Debby Lauret said she was surprised at the report. She lives off the 9th hole and has seen lots of golfers.
“I see people on that course all the time,” Lauret said. She indicated it had been very busy during COVID.
According to Hirst, part of the agreement is that the city gets to have a yearly financial report.
“Some years they lose and some years they gain,” Hirst said. “It has been a good relationship, and it is one of the most beautiful golf courses in the area.”
The golf course and owners are seeking three amendments to the 40-year agreement.
- They will transfer ownership of Clegg Pond and roll into the lease the maintenance of the pond.
- They want the agreement extended to Dec. 31, 2060. On Jan. 1, 2061, all of the golf course property will be transferred to city ownership.
- 1% of the gross revenues are to be held in reserve for the city. Those revenues will be applied to annual improvements. This already began about five years ago, according to Hirst.
“I think extending the agreement is a good idea,” Hirst said.
Sleepy Ridge opened in 2005. Professional golf prognosticators at the time had forecast about 40,000 rounds a year for the new course. They said by 2012 the projected revenues should be at $1.5 million a year.
That was a bogey.
Other new golf courses opened in Cedar Hills, Eagle Mountain, Saratoga Springs and Soldier Hollow in Midway.
That multi-course competition and a slowing interest in golf has kept Sleepy Ridge from gaining the larger revenues it was initially expected to generate.
The city council will consider amending its agreement at Tuesday’s city council meeting.