- Associated Press - Thursday, November 3, 2016

ALEXANDRIA, Ind. (AP) - A second city in the northern reaches of Madison County is hoping for the revival of its once-abandoned golf course.

The Yule Golf Course, which neighbors in nearby Yule Estates have complained has been an eyesore in recent years, recently was sold to Alexandria native Jeff Adams and is expected to be returned to its former glory.

“Obviously, we want what’s good for the community,” said Alexandria Mayor Ron Richardson. “It’s good to see people working on the betterment of Alexandria.”

The city of Elwood also recently announced it’s planning to bring golf back to the area with the reopening of Cattails Golf Club, 9273 W. 1050N.

Each golf course is expected to reopen in the spring.

Alexandria’s 158-acre Yule Golf Course, 1800 S. Harrison St., had been auctioned off in 2012 to local farmer Dale Rinker, who at the time said he expected to replace the greens with grains.

The property had belonged to Dr. Bob McCurdy, who said at the time it was difficult for the property to continue to be used as a golf course because of the economy.

According to the National Golf Club Owners Association, the sport is a $68.8 billion industry.

Adams said he expects Yule to be financially successful through a combination of membership and pay-as-you-go fees.

“We just feel like we can make a go of it,” he said. “We believe that there is more than enough to make the golf course survive, and you manage it accordingly.”

An avid golfer for 25 years, Adams said he expects the 18-hole course to attract players from throughout the county and from nearby communities, including Marion and Muncie.

Adams said people have been trying to buy back the golf course from Rinker since it was sold. But a couple of months ago, after Rinker unsuccessfully tried to have the property rezoned for agriculture, he took Adams up on his offer.

“I just happened to be the right person at the right time. I shot an idea by him,” he said.

Work already has begun on restoring the course and its clubhouse to their former glory, starting with reseeding of the property with a more modern hybrid grass variety, Adams said. However, it was too late in the season to change the shape, size or undulation of the greens, which will be revitalized in four phases.

“It’s been fantastic weather for what we’re trying to accomplish,” he said. “Any course is going to be rough the first year you’re open, but the greens are your product.”

Adams said he would not be able to maintain his ambitious opening schedule without the support of Mike Latchaw, Randy Saathoff and Neal Johnson. Much of the cleanup of the property, including mowing and tree trimming, is being done as an unexpected surprise by volunteers from the neighborhood near the course, Adams said.

“With the help of the residents around the golf course, we can pull this off,” he said.

Adams said the feedback from neighbors, who lost a reported 30 percent of the property value on their homes when the course was sold to Rinker, has been encouraging.

“That loss is substantial for a lot of folks, so there is reason for them to be excited about this,” he said.

Alexandria City Council member Patty Kuhn, who often brought the complaints of her neighbors about the property before the council, agreed.

“Ten years ago as we went into the recession, we lost a lot of value at that point and time. And four or five years ago, when it was sold, the property values sank even more,” she said.

“It’s been a real issue with the animals and the weeds that have come into our properties. It’s been an eyesore. It looks so much better. I can look out and see the railroad tracks now, and it is wonderful.”

Kuhn said she also was excited about the revenue possibilities the golf course represents for the city and local businesses.

“If our values goes up, what you get from our taxes goes up,” she said. “It’s an economic development issue. It will bring people to town. They will buy gas and food.”

However, Kuhn said, the property will need to be rezoned because it never was zoned as a golf course. But she doesn’t anticipate any objections.

“If it’s not a golf course and it can’t be farmland, what will it be because it’s pretty well landlocked.”

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Source: The (Anderson) Herald-Bulletin, https://bit.ly/2ffwF27

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Information from: The Herald Bulletin, https://www.theheraldbulletin.com

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