An Ohio couple with business ties to a small Columbus suburb has purchased the Westchester Golf Course for $1.7 million.
But new owner Bryan Wallake, who, with his wife, Tamie, closed on the deal on Nov. 30, said community support in Canal Winchester — just east of the Columbus airport — will be vital as they move forward with their plans for the property.
“I’m not like the previous owner who had extra money to throw at it if it doesn’t make money,” he said. “I need it to be successful.”
Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks were in contract to buy the course at 6300 Bent Grass Blvd. for $1.8 million earlier this year and planned to turn it into a park.
That didn’t sit well with neighbors — including the Wallakes — in the nearby Villages of Westchester, a development of about 900 homes whose owners had paid premium prices to live near the course.
In fact, the Wallakes had just built a home near the 16th green.
“I was ready to walk away from my house,” Bryan Wallake said. “A lot of people were concerned about their property values. We were hearing they could drop by 20 percent.”
His wife learned of Metro Parks’ plans while browsing through comments on the Canal Winchester Connection Facebook page.
“I said, ‘Oh, my gosh! They’re turning the golf course into a public park!’ ” she said.
Concerned residents created online petitions and informational websites to inform the community as to what was happening.
Those efforts succeeded: The Metro Parks’ board of commissioners announced Sept. 15 that it no longer was in contract to purchase the course, which was owned by developer Charlie Ruma. It had been for sale for years.
However, the Wallakes were hardly ready at that moment to put in an offer. Bryan Wallake, in particular, was adamant that he had no interest in owning a golf course.
“When this first came down, I told Tamie, ‘We are not buying a golf course; we are not,’ ” he said. “The last thing we want to do is buy a golf course. No. No. No.”
As previous owners of the Upper Lansdowne Golf Course in Ashville, the Wallakes know about golf-course management and the impact Mother Nature can have on the bottom line.
But they also know the passion residents have for Westchester course, which Bryan Wallake described as “the best golf course around the area.”
“The community is what really drove us,” he said. “We knew it’s probably not the best investment for our dollars, but after I spent some time going through the course’s financial books, I thought this could be a good investment.”
To help make the deal work, the couple refinanced property they own on Gender Road, where their other businesses are located: Olive Branch Coffee & Pizzeria and Heaven Sent Children’s Academy.
They also have been in real estate for more than 20 years, have rehabbed more than 100 homes and own a construction business, Tamie Wallake said.
The plan is to move Olive Branch Coffee & Pizzeria, which features brick oven pizza, homemade subs and salads, to the golf course where Bryan Wallake believes it will “see more traffic” than at its location on Gender Road.
According to a post Dec. 17 on the restaurant’s Facebook page, Olive Branch will close the Gender Road operation Dec. 20 and will open at the golf course “the first week of February.”
“Let’s make them both winners,” he said. “The community will have somewhere else to go to, especially around the golf course, so if we can bring them better food, I think it’s a win for everyone.”
The Wallakes also plan to make improvements to the golf course, he said, and already replaced have some older equipment.
“I’m happy for the Wallakes and even happier for the residents,” said Jimmy Ryan, who has been living on the Westchester Golf Course’s ninth fairway since the early 1990s. “I didn’t like the way Metro Parks handled it. They had no intention of letting this be a golf course if they had purchased it.”
original article link https://golfweek.usatoday.com/2020/12/18/ohio-couple-golf-course-bought/