Quaker Meadows Golf Course opened in 1967 (front nine) and 1968 (back nine).
St. Andrews Corporation, which was comprised of David Simpson and Charles Robinson, owned the course from 1985-99, a period during which play was constant as long as the sun was up, the course flourished and stories were made which are still told today.
During that time, the land the course sits on was owned by Crescent Resources.
St. Andrews sold the course and Crescent sold the land to Jerry McMahon and Carl Wall Jr. in late December 1999. During the sale, Crescent detailed in the deed of the trust that the land be used as a golf course for 20 years. If not, the amount of $1 million which was written into a promissory note would be immediately due.
Jerry’s son, Mark McMahon, who says he has been course manager for those last 20 years, says the course will close Nov. 30, which a 30-day grace period provision in the deed of trust makes possible without the $1 million becoming due.
Despite the property going on the market May 22, McMahon says the ownership group has no interest in selling the land prior to the start of 2020 for that reason.
Dennis Byrd, one of the realtors with Real Living Carolina Property Commercial, who is handling the sale, said he feels it’s likely the land will be divided into three parts at the time of sale. Byrd speculates the buyer will not come from Burke County or be interested in keeping the course open.
In late June, Byrd said the property didn't have any potential buyers.
“And we realize it’s not something that’s probably going to sell quick,” he added.
Any potential buyer has the option to purchase all or a portion of the 166-acre course and could add on a 39-acre property adjoining the course behind the 12th hole, which is owned by McMahon. That property contains two houses.
The sale listing states the North Green Street frontage could be used for commercial use. Phillip Lookadoo, Development and Design Services director for the city of Morganton, said that portion of the property would not have to be rezoned for commercial use assuming the developer was to go no further than roughly 900 feet back from the road.
The listing states the Bost Road frontage could be used for residential development. It lies within what is considered the “low density” zoning district, which allows for two to six dwelling units per acre.
The balance of the property — which includes a majority of what’s currently the course — lies within a floodplain, which limits its use. The listing states it would be ideal for a plant nursery, but the prospect of a purchase of that size for a nursery seems unlikely.
Byrd and McMahon both mentioned the prospect that the city of Morganton might be interested in the floodplain section to extend the Catawba River Greenway or Catawba Meadows Park, which both sit directly on the other side of the river from the property.
But both men say those talks haven’t materialized yet.
“We keep waiting for someone with the city to call us and work out some details,” Byrd said, “It’s something we think could work, but I don’t know if they do. It’d give them about 65 or 70 acres back there.”
McMahon added: “(The course and land) has been offered to the city under the tenure on both mayors (Mel Cohen, Ronnie Thompson) on at least a half a dozen occasions over the course of 20 years. It never was our intent to keep it as a golf course further than the ($1 million) encumberment.
“I’m not going to say (Mayor Thompson) promised me anything, but the feeling I got was he was at least going to look into it.”
City Manager Sally Sandy told The News Herald the city is not interested in buying the property as a golf course.
“The economics to support that idea, the city owning and operating the course, don’t exist anymore. And I don’t know that I see the city putting a lot of money into buying land with little value other than recreational space,” Sandy said. “The property is challenging development-wise. But there are some amenities at play there that I think could add to property values in the community.
“Certainly in the future, depending on how any subdividing goes at the time of sale, the city could entertain whether the owners would be interested in donating any of that land to the city.”
Paul Schenkel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 828-432-8950.