Glen Erin no longer on the market

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012
— Rob Vega spent the better part of last year shagging questions and tapping down rumors about the future of Glen Erin Golf Course.

After all, a Chicago-based golf course brokerage company was marketing the course as for sale for $2.25 million.

But contrary to a story in Sunday's Gazette, the golf course is no longer for sale.

In fact, its owners have refinanced Glen Erin to position it better for what has become the reality of golf course management: increased competition in a struggling economy.

The course adjacent to the Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport opened in 2003 under the legal name of Rock Ridge LLC. At the time, the majority owners were David Nadler and Karen Baumgartner, owners of Nadler Golf Car Sales in Aurora, Ill.

Aviation Golf Services owned the remainder of the operation.

In 2008, Nadler and Baumgartner bought out Aviation Golf and later sold a small percentage to Vega, Glen Erin's general manager and head pro, and David Braasch, the course's superintendent. The business entity became known as Green Fairways LLC.

"2008 was our best year, but then we dropped off in 2009 and 2010, primarily due to external factors that all golf courses experienced," Vega said.

In the winter of 2010, Nadler and Baumgartner decided to put the course on the market to gauge interest as they pondered family succession issues for their core business: Nadler Golf Car Sales.

Interest in Glen Erin was minimal, Vega said.

"There were some inquiries at really low numbers, but Dave and Karen wouldn't budge," he said.

So the decision was made to take the course off the market and refinance its debt to a level that could be managed given current economic conditions and revenues.

"I got lots of questions last year about Glen Erin being in trouble, and I tried to be as forthright as I could in answering them," Vega said. "I'm not only an employee, but I'm also an owner, so I had a vested interest in what people were talking about or maybe misconstruing."

That's important, he said, because Glen Erin hosts many fundraiser golf outings for groups that often schedule their events well in advance.

"We're excited about our refinancing and plan to have a long-term presence in the community," Vega said.

It's also important for Rock County taxpayers. Glen Erin leases its land from the county, which between 2011 and 2015 is set at an annual rate of $20,000.

According to the lease agreement, Glen Erin pays the county a portion of its annual payment each month. At the end of the year, if the lease payments do not equal 2 percent of Glen Erin's gross revenues, the owners write a check to make up the difference.

Airport Director Ron Burdick said Glen Erin has been current in its payments to the county.

Vega said bookings for 2012 outings already are at the same level as 2011 and interest is once again strong for Monday, Wednesday and Thursday leagues. Greens fees will be the same as they have been the last two years.

Glen Erin will make some slight modifications to its restaurant menu and will partner with Best Events for its outing and banquet business. That, he said, will allow Glen Erin to become more efficient in its restaurant operation.

"It's great for the outing people because when they book with us they get both the reputation of Glen Erin as a golf course but also Best Events for the catering," Vega said.

Glen Erin will host a Forward Janesville "Business After 5" on Thursday, Feb. 23, to showcase the new partnership.

Last updated: 7:14 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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