The first golf course designed by legendary course architect Pete Dye is reorganizing under the protection of bankruptcy and is likely to emerge under new ownership.
Dye’s Walk Country Club on South State Road 135 in Greenwood filed Chapter 11 on June 7, listing debt of $4.6 million and assets of $2.2 million.
George Cannon, a local veteran course manager who is leading a group to purchase Dye’s Walk, said the course is a victim of the economy. Current owner Brian Benham purchased the private club in 2007, right before the recession hit.
“The timing was atrocious,” Cannon said. “He tried really, really hard and put a lot of money into it.”
The largest debtor is Indiana Bank & Trust in Indianapolis, which is owed $2.5 million. Benham also owes $135,700 in federal taxes and $27,259 in property taxes, in addition to $31,470 in employee wages that weren’t paid in May, according to the bankruptcy filing.
Despite its recent financial hardships, the course has quite a storied history. It opened in 1960 with nine holes and was the first course designed by world-renowned golf architect Dye, a native Hoosier.
Dye followed up in 1962 with his first 18-hole course, Maple Creek Country Club, on East 21st Street in Indianapolis.
Originally known as the Eldorado, the Greenwood course added another nine holes in the early 1970s and was renamed Royal Oak. In honor of Dye, Benham changed the name to Dye’s Walk Country Club in 2007.
It has 259 members who pay monthly dues ranging from $60 to $275, according to court documents.
The goal of the reorganization and potential sale is to keep the club operating, Benham’s lawyer, Jeffrey Hester, said in a filing.
“There is no intent to liquidate or to stop operations—rather the opposite is true—the debtor wants total uninterrupted country club operations from now through a potential time of sale,” he wrote.
The course had $1.3 million in revenue last year, according to the bankruptcy filing.
Several courses in Indiana have either closed or changed ownership or management in recent years. Most recent, the city of Indianapolis in March named a new manager of Eagle Creek Golf Club after terminating its contract with the former operator who defaulted on a $3.5 million loan balance.