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August 2020

Oregon Muni Offers Glimmer Of Hope In Second Half of 2020

By Steve Eubanks

Anecdotal evidence should always be taken in context. But after a lost season of revenue, a blow from which some courses will not recover, it is not only good to see healthy operations coming back strong, but it is also heartening, and a little surprising, to find courses making comebacks that no one expected. 

In early June, Sean Negherbon, chief administrator for the city of Myrtle Creek, Oregon, confirmed that the municipal golf course previously named Cougar Canyon Golf Club will reopen. The course had been shuttered since October, long before anyone outside Wuhan, China had heard of COVID-19. Now, Oregon-based Umpqua Golf Management will refresh and operate the facility. 

Umpqua Golf Management was formed four years ago by three long-time employees at the Umpqua Golf Resort – Scott Simpson, Brad Seehawer and Scott Zielinski – who bought their club as it was about to be closed for good. At that time, Simpson said, “It was up for sale and a lot of people had come through with different plans for the course. Some of those plans, like closing the course, were not going to be beneficial to the community of Sutherlin, (Ore).”

They kept their original course alive, along with another, Stewart Park Golf Course in nearby Roseburg. So when Cougar Canyon closed and the city of Myrtle Creek began examining its options, Simpson and his partners seemed like the perfect fit.

According to Negherbon, the deal includes the city paying the power bill for the first three years and repairing the roof on the clubhouse. But as anyone who has run a golf operation for more than a minute knows, those are not a course’s make-or-break expenses. Throughout most of June, Umpqua’s team was bush-hogging fairways that had grown waist high in the eight months the course was closed.
“There is a lot of maintenance to be done,” Negherbon said. 

July 1 was a soft re-opening. And while one municipal operation in the Pacific Northwest being raised from the dead does not constitute a trend, it is anecdotal good news for an industry trying to muddle through the aftermath of 2020.

 

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