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Wedgefield Golf Club sells to new operator, at a loss from decade ago

Highlighted in blue are two parcels making up the Wedgefield Golf Course in East Orange County that were acquired in the past week.
Highlighted in blue are two parcels making up the Wedgefield Golf Course in East Orange County that were acquired in the past week.(Orange County Property Appraiser)

When John M. Pullen's Capstone Golf bought the Wedgefield Golf Club of East Orange County in 2004 for $1.2 million, the adjacent neighborhood was growing by 400 homes a year.

Then came the recession and a plunge in the new home market. Combined with a slowing interest in golf, the course that was once busy began to see fewer rounds, as did many other courses around the country, Pullen said.

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There's not a lot going on out there now [in the Wedgefield area]," he said. "It's halfway to Titusville."

So Pullen put the course on the market.

The former Mount Plymouth golf course in Lake County, where Babe Ruth and Al Capone are said to have once played, has been closed since 2007 but is now being pitched for 197 single-family home lots.

On April 15, the St. Augustine-based manager and developer Capstone sold the golf course and country club for $725,000 to Wedgefield Golf and Restaurant LLC, held by Craig D. Cooke and Shaune M. Cooke, of Macomb, Michigan.

The new owner, said Pullen, has never operated a golf course but has a degree in agronomy and plans to run the course himself.

"He should be able to make it work," Pullen said.

Casselberry bought its community golf course for $2.2 million, feeling it was too ingrained in the community to stop operating, or be developed on.

The Cookes did not return calls seeking comment on Tuesday.

The sellers' broker was Matthew Putnam of Marcus & Millichap, who specializes in selling golf courses.

"They [golf courses] are trading if they are priced well," said Putnam.

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In the case of Wedgefield, the price was lowered last fall and that sparked interest. He says the sellers usually are willing to reduce prices on courses when they realize that it would be difficult to do anything else with the land, other than have a golf course.

"People try to have them rezoned and it doesn't work out," Putnam said.  Often such rezonings are thwarted by homeowners who live on the courses, worried about losing their backyard view or taking a hit on property value.

Putnam said he thinks Greater Orlando's golf course market is beginning to see demand and supply equalizing.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at teresaburney4@gmail.com, or 352-455-1955. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook,Twitter and LinkedIn.

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