Updated: February 19, 2014 at 11:49 am
There's nothing on the Web page of the King's Deer Golf Club to indicate that it's anything but business as usual, but a call to the clubhouse confirms what residents of the upscale Monument development learned last week: The course and clubhouse are closed "until further notice."
Nebraska-based Exchange Bank foreclosed on the ownership group and locked the property Thursday without any indication of the course's future, according to an e-mail from a person associated with the golf course, who asked not to be identified. All course employees were let go Thursday, the email states.
The foreclosure was on a $1 million loan, according to the El Paso County land records. The records do not show how much is still owed on the loan.
The action came without warning. According to the community's homeowners association website, a recent issue of the King's Deer newsletter had ads promoting golf course specials.
"If the golf course owners suspected this foreclosure was pending we doubt they would have spent money on the advertisements," the King's Deer board of directors said in the Web posting. "This is an unfortunate and unexpected turn of events."
An Exchange Bank representative from Kearney, Neb., was scheduled to speak to the King's Deer Homeowners Association Tuesday night, according to the association's page at kingsdeer.org. Representatives from the bank declined to comment before the meeting. A member of the golf course's management staff also declined comment, saying he was not authorized to speak on the matter.
John Highhouse, president of the King's Deer Homeowners Association, said Tuesday that his group is concerned about the golf course closure's effect on property values. King's Deer has 532 properties. About 400 of those are developed home sites on lots that are about 2.5 acres, he said.
"This is a golf course community, and people have homes on the golf course with the expectation that the golf course would be there," he said.
But homeowner values may not be as imperiled as some might think. Highhouse said King's Deer golf course cannot be developed with homes or commercial developments because the course, except for the clubhouse and parking lot, lies within a flood plain.
"Of course we are still concerned," Highhouse said, "but the fact they can't build condos in the backyard somewhat eases our minds."
The HOA and the golf course are separate entities.
When asked if the association might purchase the golf course, Highhouse said it's "not in a position to do that but some of the homeowners may get together and do that."
Since the property cannot be developed, Highhouse said the course would make a great recreational space for the surrounding community if the course is not reopened.
"If the county got involved and wanted to have an open space there," he said, "that would be a great idea as well."
The King's Deer Golf Club website says the facility, including the 18-hole course, opened in 1999 and was designed by Redstone Golf.
It's the third northern El Paso County golf course to close in a year. In February 2013, Monument Hill Country Club announced it was closing for the rest of that season, and Gleneagle Golf Club closed its course Nov. 1. Each cited either a decline in the annual number of golfers and revenue or the increased cost to run the course.
Golfing has been on the decline in the U.S. recently. The numbers peaked in 2005 with more than 16,000 courses and 30 million golfers but have declined by about 400 courses and 4.3 million golfers since then, according to data posted on the National Golf Foundation's website. The number of rounds of golf played annually dropped to 463 million in 2011 from 518 million in 2000, according to the foundation.