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Palm Coast, FL – December 23, 2014 – I was shocked recently when I drove by the old Matanzas Golf Course recently. The clubhouse is overgrown and falling apart. The parking lot is littered with trash. Only the contours of the course remain. How can such a treasure become unrecognizable in such a short period of time? What might the future hold?
Many feel that Matanzas was the very best of Palm Coast’s original four courses. Designed by Arnold Palmer and Ed Seay, Matanzas Woods has been described as a "beautiful monster" and was once named one of Golf Digest's "Best New Resort Courses". This course featured a fair amount of water on the course with the Jefferson Davis Waterway cutting through the course, running parallel to some fairways on the back nine.
The course was purchased in October by Group Golf of Palm Coast LLC for $266,750, with $100,000 cash plus a balloon purchase money mortgage from the seller payable December 10, 2014. [Matanzas Golf Course in Palm Coast Sold] Public records do not yet show that the payment date was met. It’s common for public filings to be delayed several days, but examination of the course condition would suggest that payment has not been made.
Never stately, the clubhouse was nonetheless functional. Now, parts of it are falling down. Overgrown with Florida vegetation, the building shows signs of serial vandalism. The parking lot is strewn with trash, including several used scorecards, reminders of better times. It was apparent to me that no maintenance had been performed since the sale date, perhaps for a longer period.
The outline of the course is still discernible in the January 15, 2014 Google Earth view below. The view from ground level is less revealing. The photograph at the right was taken from the 10th green, looking north toward the 10th tee box.
So what happens next? I can only speculate. The buyer’s need for a balloon mortgage suggests that their financial position is weak. If so, even if they make the payment deadline, the outlook for further investment is poor in the short term. That’s not good news because vegetation grows fast in Florida.
If the balloon mortgage remains unpaid, the seller has the option to foreclose or to accept a deed in lieu of foreclosure. A deed in lieu might happen quickly, allowing the seller to take title and renew periodic maintenance. A foreclosure would take several months, allowing the property’s condition to deteriorate further.
Jim Cullis’s offer for Matanzas is starting to look better. And residents of Ocean Hammock and Hammock Beach should be glad they have a developer willing to pony up a $72M investment in the resort.
Read 'Perfect storm' wreaking havoc on Florida golf courses for more insight on the future of golf courses.
January 15, 2014 Google Earth View of Matranzas Golf Course