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February 2018

A Blunt Decision

abluntdecision.jpg‭Some have become strawberry farms.

Others have been converted into parks with communal gardens, while others gave way to commercial or residential development. Even more simply went back to nature, becoming fields and forests that show no signs of the game so recently played there.

Golf course closures continue apace, painfully and methodically, with experts predicting no end to the carnage, even in a recovering economy. Some consultants estimate that an additional 1,000 courses to 3,000 courses need to close before the game gets back to profitable equilibrium.

But golf courses don’t just vanish to the vapers. Owners who have gotten out of the business—some by choice and others through pain of foreclosure—have seen their land converted to everything from 7-elevens to alpaca farms. In one case, an industry first, a Michigan golf course may soon be the site of a medical marijuana facility.

On January 9, the owners of Southmoor Golf Club in Burton, Michigan, successfully petitioned the city’s planning commission to change 37 of the club’s 95 acres from “commercial” to “light industrial,” the first step in selling the club to an outfit called CannaDevelopment Company. As the name implies, CannaDevelopment is into large, commercial cannabis.

“We spent the last 18 months looking for the right place in Michigan to debut this concept, which we call a corporate cannabis park,” said Garrett Greenlee, president of CannaDevelopment. He called Southmoor, “an excellent fit for the full development.” The potential development would include five, 42,000 square-foot greenhouses as well as converting the 8,500-square-foot clubhouse into a dispensary.

Commissioners were told that the total investment in the property would be $59 million and that CannaDevelopment would employ 287 people at the facility.  According to the golf course owner, David Boji, who has run Southmoor with his father Wilson for years, the facility has been a consistent money loser. The family has been looking for a buyer and CannaDevelopment offers the best alternative use for the land.

“At the end of the day, the golden age of golf courses is over,” Boji told the commission.

Meanwhile, Greenlee couldn’t have been more optimistic. “We’re trying to really take this cultivation activity to the next level with this type of facility,” he said. “We feel like this is the perfect spot to debut this concept.”

—Steve Eubanks

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