Westfield golf course once slated for closure gets new life

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Managers of a Westfield golf course once in danger of shutting down say they’re not going anywhere anytime soon after spending the past year upgrading the course.

The future of Wood Wind Golf Club has been up in the air for years as its owners have pursued sale options, but the course’s management team has fought to keep it open. The golf course, at 2302 W. 161st St., is open to the public for a daily fee and offers annual memberships. It opened in 1990 and was designed by Ron and Gary Kern.

Cohoat & O’Neal Management Corp., which has operated the golf course for years and now owns it, spent 2018 making updates to the course as construction begins on a new residential development surrounding it, principal Matt Cohoat told IBJ.

The course’s irrigation system was upgraded, enhancements were made to the club house and two new holes were added, Cohoat said.

The owners have also built a state-of-the-art practice area that will be available to golfers beginning in the spring and summer. The new area is equipped with technology that will help golfers improve their game.

Cohoat said the investment recently made demonstrates the course’s commitment to staying open and serving the community for years to come. The golf course has been “empowered” by the rezone, he said.

Wood Wind Golf Club’s woes began in early 2015, when a developer proposed replacing the golf course with a 300-plus home subdivision. The project received negative feedback, and the developer chose not to move forward with it.

Then, in September 2015, Cohoat & O’Neal Management announced it would have to close the course by the end of the year after its lease with then-owner RN Thompson to manage the property had not been renewed for 2016. But two months later, plans had changed, and Cohoat & O’Neal announced the course would be open for 2016 as they looked for a long-term solution.

By early 2016, Pulte Homes announced it would acquire the property from RN Thompson and later released plans for a nearly 800-acre development with more than 1,000 homes. That proposal also drew criticism from neighbors, and city councilors worried about the strain it would put on local resources. Ultimately, the project was turned down.

Last year, a third proposal for the property gained approval. Platinum Properties Management Co. LLC plans to build 340 homes on 309-acres adjacent to the course. Pulte Homes, Drees Homes and Wedgewood Homes have been selected as the home builders for the project. Construction should begin this spring, Cohoat said. Each homeowner will be offered a membership to the course.  

Should operations ever cease, the city of Westfield and Westfield Washington Township would have the opportunity to purchase the property. Both the township and the city council recently approved purchase options that allow them to buy the land for $2.5 million through 2020.

But Wood Wind Golf Club has no intention of closing, Cohoat said.

“The option is a good safety net for city and township, but there (are) no plans to do anything other than invest in it and grow it both as a community asset and a business enterprise,” he said. “It’s a bargain purchase price if it ever did happen … but right now, we just want to have people come out, enjoy the facilities, the food, the social aspect and, of course, the golf.”

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