After months of unfounded rumors, it’s finally become a reality: Wilson Gee and his partners last week sold the Ahwatukee Golf Club to a Litchfield Park couple who also own a course in Avondale.
Charles and Lisa Gibson, operating as Free Drop LLC, paid $3.2 million for the course, according to real estate tracker vizzda.com.
Built in 1976 and owned by Bixby Village Golf Course Inc. since 2006, the 141-acre site includes an 11,868-square-foot clubhouse and an 18-hole 72 championship golf course designed by the late golf pro and pilot John Guthrie. Bulla.
Charles Gibson hit the ground running as soon as the deal was sealed.
He postponed an interview with the Ahwatukee Foothills News for a few weeks, saying he was too busy renovating the grounds. This week, for example, he was resurfacing the parking lot and getting a crew to renovate the club’s tired interior.
“I’m very busy, as you can tell,” said Gibson, a professional golfer who played on the University of Arizona golf team in the early 1970s.
The Gibsons also own the Coldwater Golf Course near Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale.
This 18-hole course, which includes a clubhouse capable of hosting gatherings of up to 200 people, has garnered favorable reviews on various social media sites.
Tripadvisor.com shows a 4 out of 5 star rating for the course, which is passing through a residential development.
Golfnow.com called it a “friendly facility” that “enjoys dedicated West Valley golfers who return time and time again to this fun layout that offers great value” and includes three lakes.
“Unlike so many courses in the Phoenix Valley that are on level ground,” states golfnow.com, “Coldwater Golf Club has the advantage of wandering on rolling terrain. Course architect Forrest Richardson took full advantage of creating a layout with elevated tee boxes, constantly moving fairways that meander up and down and exciting green complexes.”
Passion for the game
The Arizona Golfer, the state’s oldest golf newspaper, also provided some background information on Gibson, stating that “his first West Valley exposure came in a qualifying round for the University of Arizona golf team in the fall of 1971.
“Playing golf had been a priority for quite some time up until this point. His commitment to golf led to 4 years at Arizona State University, a 2 time All American and 5 years on the PGA TOUR.
“This experience served as a perfect introduction to the other side of golf – the business side. Served as general partner and director of several public facilities, contract management of multiple facilities and owner/operator of three courses,” reported Arizona Golfer.
He said Charles’ wife Lisa handles the financial and accounting side of the business, while their son Cole Gibson is Coldwater’s general manager and the couple’s longtime friend Pete Mason is director of gold and tournament operations.
“Together they have over 100 years of golf experience and golf business experience,” Arizona Golfer reported.
He also reported that Gibson, who lived in California before moving to Litchfield Park, said they had been looking for five years for a golf facility in the valley.
During that time, he told Arizona Golfer, they wanted to buy a course where “we felt like our family could be successful as well as be a part of a community that we’ve already come to love and appreciate.”
“We talk every day about improving course conditions, golf operations and food service. Our goal is to provide an overall experience that should always include a fantastic golf course, friendly atmosphere and great burgers, dogs, nachos and cold drinks,” he also said.
Considering his energetic start at Ahwatukee last week, his interview with Arizona Golfer suggests he brings the same passion to Ahwatukee Country Club that he brought to Coldwater.
“We are absolutely committed to making improvements throughout the facility,” he told Arizona Golfer, stating that the Coldwater club’s remodeling included new granite, paint and flooring.
Time to sell
Gee told AFN that while he hadn’t originally put Ahwatukee Country Club on the market, he and his partners decided to sell because “I have too much on my plate.”
Among those things is a non-profit Gee is starting to help education in Los Angeles.
Gee once owned all four golf courses in Ahwatukee and gradually sold all but Ahwatukee Lakes, where he and his partners were the subject of a lawsuit by two residents in 2014, a year after he closed the 18-hole site.
His efforts to sell Ahwatukee Lakes caused grief among the course’s more than 5,400 homeowners, who stopped True Life Companies’ bid to turn the site into a 290-home complex, a small farm, a new site for Desert Garden Montessori and hiking trails.
After a lengthy legal battle that even reached the United States Supreme Court, attorney Tim Barnes, representing homeowners Linda Swain and Eileen Breslin, convinced Superior Court judges to order Gee’s restoration of Ahwatukee Lakes.
While Gee has largely restored the Lakes, he is working with Barnes and his clients on a number of better spots—including planting several hundred low-water-use trees and an actual clubhouse.
Originally Gee had tried to replace the club – leveled by an unsolved arson – with an office-style building, a judge ordered him to build a more suitable facility.
Gee said he has an architect drawing up plans for the clubhouse and expects it will take nine to 12 months to get the project through the city of Phoenix’s planning process.
Gee was able to sell the other two courses he had in Ahwatukee.
He sold Club West Golf Course twice — first in 2017 to an investor who within about seven months defaulted on payments on a $1.3 million note.
Gee took Club West back and sold it in 2019 for $750,000 to a group of four investors organized as The Edge.
But since The Edge lost an attempt in early 2020 to sell three parcels of the course for homes so it could finance course rehabilitation, the four entrepreneurs have been engaged in seemingly endless litigation with a group of homeowners organized as Club West. Maintenance.
The Conservancy alleges that Shea Homes, which owned the Club West Golf Courses land use rights before giving them to The Edge, has breached sales agreements for homes around the course.
He argues that those sales agreements require the land to be maintained as an 18-hole championship golf course — a position The Edge and Shea Homes deny.
A judge has set a trial for next March in that case, and the course itself has long since deteriorated into a 165-acre patch of desert.
Gee sold the Foothills golf course last year for $4.7 million to a family-owned real estate investment firm from California that has hired world-renowned Troon, which upgraded the course and clubhouse.
Gee said that at least for now, he and his partners will continue to own and operate their only other course in the Valley – The Duke in Maricopa.
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