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City of Osceola purchases Country Club

Pictured is hole number one at the Osceola Municipal County Club.
Pictured is hole number one at the Osceola Municipal County Club.

The City of Osceola bought the previously private Osceola Country Club from Dr. Jim Kimball Feb. 5.

The ownership has yet to be transfered from Kimball to the City. Kimball bought the County Club in January with the intent to immediately sell it to the City. He had, late in 2018, voiced great concern over the future of the golf course and suggested the City take it over. His suggestion got discussion started and now with the contigency of the CCDC granting the city funds to retire all outstanding debt the ownership will be tranfered this spring.

Below is Kimball’s letter from late in 2018 addressed to the membership of the country club expressing his concern.

Osceola Country Club is facing a financial situation. We need to address what we are going to do about our debt.

One option is to continue the way we are now. We will need to borrow more money if we have any break downs. The debt will grow and we will not see many if any improvements.

We could offer the club for sale, hoping to find buyers who would manage it and make improvements that would attract enough players to make it profitable.

We are proposing that the Osceola Country Club become a municipal (public) golf course. The current debt is about $144,000. The current membership is about 130. We do not think the current membership is willing to increase their financial commitment to the club to make it financially viable.

Neither the city nor the county is in a position to assist us because we are a private group. The Clarke County Development Corporation (CCDC) is not allowed to grant money to private groups.

We propose our membership vote at our annual meeting to transfer our club’s assets to the city of Osceola. CCDC will provide a grant to the city to clear the club’s debt. The club would be managed by a group composed of club board representatives and Osceola’s park and rec representatives. The transferring agreement would ensure the Osceola Country Club will remain a golf course. CCDC would be in a position to offer grants to the city to make improvements to the course. This is the main reason for going public.

The club now is a corporation, but no by-laws are available. There is an abstract prepared in 2015. Documents for any transfer need to be developed.

The annual meeting will be in October. Members should be notified early enough to insure we have a good representation of the membership. The club is a great asset for our community. We would like to see it grow and improve.

Everything that Kimball had wanted from his letter has now come to pass. The Osceola Municipal Country Club will open like normal for spring golfing.

“The City is in the process of drafting an ordinance to appoint a Golf Course Management Commission to help oversee the operation. The City will be working quickly establish annual pass rates (versus memberships), taking inventory of the equipment, and making sure the personnel is in place for the 2019 season,” said City Administrator Ty Wheeler.

The Country Club will fall under the responsibility of Osceola Parks and Rec department. Things will be reletively the same at the Country Club this year. The Parks and Rec department will be learning about golf course management and what works best for City and the golfers.

“It creates more recreational opportunities for enhancement of quality of life within our community,” said Parks and Rec Director Tim Riddle. “The biggest challenges I can forsee are marketing to the public (it’s been a semi-private course forever) and past members wanting everything “fixed” immediately. This will be a process. A matter of prioritization. This first year needs to be a, “watch, listen, learn” year.”

A comprehensive capital improvement plan will begin to be discussed once the operating and maintanence of the Country Club becomes a familiar routine for the Parks and Rec department.

“Regardless of whether the golf course was managed privately or publically, it’s a necessary amenity for any community trying to attract and retain families and professionals to the community. Osceola has two housing subdivisions with the name ‘country club’ in them. Properties were developed and valued based on their proximity to the golf course. The school has a golf team, many local organizations host golf tournaments as part of annual fundraising campaigns, and the Country Club was host to a men’s and women’s golf league. It would have been a huge black-eye to the community if there was suddenly no golf course,” said Wheeler.

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