Thursday, June 6, 2024

Boca Country Club Donated to City

Boca Raton will have a new municipal golf course.

Just not the one everyone has talked about.

The Boca Raton Resort & Club is donating to the city what is now the private Boca Country Club course. Like the current municipal course on Glades Road west of the turnpike, this one is outside the city limits—across from the Costco on Congress Avenue north of Clint Moore Road. 

MSD Partners acquired the course when it bought the resort last year. Resort guests have been able to play there. When I wrote recently about MSD’s planned $150 million investment in the resort, an MSD principal said the new owners want to focus on the core waterfront areas. Donating the course will save MSD annual maintenance costs for a property that isn’t a priority.

In a statement, Coburn Packard of MSD Partners said, “The Boca Country Club is an excellent facility, but as a private club, it has been underutilized for well over a decade. We will be pleased to see it achieve its full potential while supporting the greater Boca Raton community.”

Indeed, the donation solves a problem for the city and especially the Greater Boca Raton Beach and Park District. The two agencies have disagreed on a design and price to convert the former Ocean Breeze course—within the Boca Teeca community—into a replacement for Boca Municipal. GL Homes has a contract to buy the city course for $65 million.

Presumably, that dispute now disappears. The district, which paid $24 million for the Ocean Breeze land, won’t have to worry about endangering its finances and/or raising taxes to pay for a new course. District board members and city council members can decide how best to use the roughly 200 acres of open space. The district owns the east side outright. The district essentially has a mortgage with the city for the western half.

Both agencies may be guided by the recreation survey the district and the city commissioned. Release of the results, like so many things, has been delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Boca Municipal and Boca Country Club courses are about the same length — roughly 6,700 yards. Boca Country Club opened in 1985 and was renovated two years ago. The designer was Joe Lee, whom Jack Nicklaus said “never built a bad golf course.”

The main difference will be the loss of the par-30 executive course at Boca Municipal. The city and council had discussed ideas for a short course and other amenities at Ocean Breeze.

According to a news release, the city will get the land this month, but the resort will continue to operate Boca Country Club as a private club until Sept. 30, 2021. Between now and then, the release said, “the city will refine its management and operating plans.”

Golfers now know that there will be no gap between the closing of Boca Municipal and the opening of a new course. Next Oct. 1, the course will be available to city residents, visitors, residents of the homes within the club community and resort club members. I would assume that the city and district will arrange to include district residents who live outside the city, but that hasn’t been worked out yet.

I’m told that this deal has been in the works for almost a year. It obviously results from MSD’s evaluation of the resort. Though it makes sense from a business standpoint, the donation also shows MSD’s and Northview Hotel Group’s support for the community and is a wonderful corporate introduction.

The Boca Raton City Council meets next week. Items related to the course likely will be on the agenda. I’ll have more as the story develops.

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Randy Schultz
Randy Schultz
Randy Schultz, a native of Hartford, Connecticut, has been a South Florida journalist since 1974. He worked for The Miami Herald until 1976 and for The Palm Beach Post from 1976 until 2014, where he served as managing editor and editorial page editor. Since 2014, he has written a politics blog, commentaries and other articles for Boca magazine. His writing has earned first-place awards from the Florida Magazine Association and the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors. Randy has lived in Boca Raton with his wife, Shelley Huff-Schultz, since 1985. His son, daughter-in-law and their three children also live in Boca Raton.

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