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Holmes Harbor golf course sale takes a mulligan

Patrick Kent waits for the Holmes Harbor Sewer District’s approval to purchase the Freeland golf course. The greens were closed for three years and may open in May.  - Ben Watanabe / The Record
Patrick Kent waits for the Holmes Harbor Sewer District’s approval to purchase the Freeland golf course. The greens were closed for three years and may open in May.
— image credit: Ben Watanabe / The Record

Opening the Holmes Harbor Golf Course will wait a while longer.

The Holmes Harbor Sewer District board sent its purchase and sale agreement back to its lawyer for review and amendment, even though potential course leasee-operator Patrick Kent is waiting in the wings.

Delaying the deal was a clause about leasing or sub-leasing the course’s pro shop and maintenance facility. Fairly certain in the contract are the fairways and greens from owners Kevin Hanchett and Mike Cooper to the sewer district for $200,000.

“We can justify owning the grass,” said Stan Walker, sewer district chairman. “We can’t justify owning the pro shop and maintenance facility.”

Buying the greens is necessary for the sewer district, which irrigates the course with its treated wastewater. When the fairways are allowed to grow too long and are not maintained, the drainage can compromise the sewer system. Recent wet weather has some of the district’s holding ponds near capacity, though a few others remain mostly drained, so there was little risk of an overflow.

“Owning 50 acres of grass is a nightmare,” Walker said. “It’s essentially 100 lawns.”

Those are lawns that Kent, a 25-year-old Tukwila resident, wants to tend. Golf runs in his family. He played collegiately in Denver, his parents play and his sister is on the golf team at Washington State University.

When the course’s availability came up at work, he decided to take a swing.

“With my background in business and background in golf, it was the right opportunity,” Kent said.

At the sewer district’s meeting April 11, Kent briefly addressed the board. He told the board he drafted a three-year business plan and dispelled rumors he has stakes in other golf courses. This is his first attempt at operating a golf course, Kent said.

Running the course, he estimates, will cost $250,000. Without the clubhouse to sell food and drinks at a high profit, bringing in lots of golfers is the key to a viable business. He wants the course to be a “practice facility,” and South Whidbey’s most popular golf destination. As a public course, Kent plans to keep greens fees lower than previous operators.

“The goal from a community perspective is to be a place where people can play golf, be outdoors and have fun,” Kent said.

“Our primary goal is to get the people of Whidbey Island to play here.”

Leasing the greens from the sewer district will cost $1 annually, but the pro shop and maintenance facility leases, either from Hanchett or the sewer district, will each cost $500 per month. Closing is also contingent on an easement issue.

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