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Critics say theyll give new Plantation golf owners a chance

A group upset by the sale of the historic Plantation Country Club says it is willing to give the new California owners a chance to prove themselves.

“We like what we’re hearing, but at this point it’s all talk,” said Craig Quintana, spokesman for the Save Plantation Coalition, which met last week with Will Gustafson, managing partner of owner Glass Creek LLC. “We’re still waiting to see if Mr. Gustafson will do the walk.”

Members of the coalition, which includes club members and neighborhood residents, feared Gustafson planned to close Idaho’s second-oldest golf course and build houses and commercial developments on its 118 acres at 6515 W. State St.

Rumors that Gustafson planned to dismantle the course spread widely over the fall. A confidentiality agreement prohibited Gustafson, a Santa Barbara, California, developer, from commenting until after the sale was finalized.

The coalition proposed an open spaces ordinance that could provide extra protections for green spaces such as Plantation. It’s expected to come before the city Design Review Committee later this year.

Current R-2 zoning for the country club allows only single-family homes or duplexes per acre, so any development would require a zone change and public hearings.

Gustafson told the Idaho Statesman in late December that he planned to continue operating Plantation as an 18-hole course with limited development. While he said commercial development would likely be added along State Street, no plans have been drawn up.

Impact of a wider State Street

In early 2021, Plantation will be affected if the Ada County Highway District executes its plans to widen State Street from two traffic lanes in each direction to three. The project will include a buffer strip and a shared pathway for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Plantation will lose 24 feet of property, requiring the course to relocate the No. 10 hole and fairway.

The reconfiguration will take place at the same time as the road widening. It will include relocating the golf course entrance from Plantation Lane farther east to align with the southern end of North Pierce Park Lane, which extends north off State.

A median planned along State Street will prevent westbound cars from turning left onto Plantation Lane. Cars leaving the course also won’t be able to turn left onto State.

Course architect brings ‘substantial credibility’

The country club, which has about 500 members, has hired golf course architect Brian Curley to relocate No. 10 and to redesign the rest of the course, said Bob Taunton, the club’s project manager.

Curley, co-owner of Schmidt-Curley Golf Design of Paradise Valley, Arizona, has designed more than 150 golf courses in the United States and other countries, including China and Vietnam. “He’s the best golf course architect you’ve never heard of,” Taunton told the Statesman.

In 2011, Golf Magazine named Schmidt-Curley its Architects of the Year, and Golf Inc. named the firm the fourth-most influential golf course architect.

Curley examined the course during a visit last week and met with club members, employees and members of the Save Plantation Coalition. He’s expected to take about six months to come up with design changes, Taunton said.

Curley’s hiring was a good move, said Quintana, a former spokesman for the highway district and the current owner of a consulting company, ProsePro of Idaho.

“He comes with substantial credibility and quite a reputation for doing good work,” Quintana said. “But we have yet to see what he’s going to ultimately put on the table.”

A course for ‘the next 100 years’

The revised course will be shorter, which is expected to appeal to younger golfers who want to spend less time on the links, Taunton said.

“The key here is designing Plantation for the next 100 years,” Taunton said. “We have a lot of older members who, as time goes on, will no longer be members. How do you design a golf course that will cater to more of the interests, perhaps, and time constraints of the millennials?”

The work will force the Plantation to close nine of the 18 holes for up to two years.

“We suspect we’ll lose a lot of members when it goes from 18 to nine,” Taunton said.

No decision has been made on whether to reduce membership dues, currently $250 per month for individuals, $215 for junior executives and $295 for families.

“We’ll have to think about some sort of adjustment, because you’re playing nine holes and not 18,” he said.

The clubhouse kitchen will be closed during February. The hood that removes airborne grease, smoke and fumes needs to be replaced.

That’s in addition to $100,000 in other planned clubhouse improvements, including new paint and carpeting, filling potholes and restriping the parking lot. That work should be completed during the spring, he said.

‘The onus is on us’

After meeting with coalition members and neighbors, a lot of the furor directed at Gustafson has subsided, Taunton said.

“The onus is on us to deliver,” he said. “We said that we were going to be collaborative, and the first thing we did was reach out and start talking to them. Hopefully, that’s assured them that we are really going to live up to what we said we were going to do.”

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