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Owners pitch golf course
Countryland principals want county to buy site
Country Land course
The principal owners of Countryland Golf Club say they’re willing to sell the course to the county for $50,000 an acre. - photo by Frank Reddy
If Forsyth County wants to buy a golf course, the principals of Countryland (click for map) have just the site.

The owners of the 18-hole course off Jot Em Down Road in north Forsyth have announced they’re willing to sell the 97-acre site to the county for about $50,000 per acre.

In a March 8 letter to the county, CAMSTRAT Public Affairs writes the land is “an economical option for a publicly owned course.”

CAMSTRAT is representing Countryland Golf Club, whose principals the letter lists as Tommy Bagwell, Leon Jones, Robert Jones and Bobby Smith.

Joshua Jones with CAMSTRAT said his clients are “always interested in taking bids and procurement offers from any entity whether it be government or a private entity.”

“However, all four principals do reside in Forsyth County and have a great interest in ensuring Forsyth continues to prosper,” Jones said. “That’s why this offer’s been made.

“I’m not sure that beginning negotiation price would be made to just any entity, but it has been made to Forsyth County.”

At least two commissioners aren’t convinced Countryland is the best option if the county were to buy a golf course.

The golf course idea surfaced after voters approved a $100 million parks and recreation bond in February 2008. About $36 million of that money can be used to acquire green space.

So far, the county has spent $22.5 million to acquire three sites totally nearly 300 acres. Another $5 million, for the 100-acre McClure property, is pending.

Commissioner Jim Harrell, who has played Countryland several times, said from the standpoint of location there are other directions the county can look.

“If we’re going to do a golf course, we’d probably take a look at Lanier Golf Course,” Harrell said. “From the standpoint of a distribution of the money, it’s probably a better option.”

Speculation continues to swirl around Lanier Golf Course, which is clouded by litigation.

Wellstone LLC, a company with a contract to buy the 170-acre site on Buford Dam Road, and the golf course owners filed suit against the county
in September 2007 after the commission rejected rezoning the property for residential development.

In the suit, Wellstone and the course owners contend the commission denied their request to rezone the property “in order for Forsyth County to purchase the property at less than its fair market value.”

Aside from lawsuit, Commissioner Patrick Bell said it may not be the best time for the county to think about getting into the golf business.

“It’s a tough, tough time out there economically,” said Bell, whose district includes Countryland. “Government amenities like that come secondary to the basics of what we’re doing. Government’s job is to provide for the public’s health, safety and welfare. All the other stuff is extra.”

Bell said, however, that if the county were to buy a course, Countryland “more closely resembles a municipal golf course.”

“It’s a nice course. It’s very well-kept,” Bell said. “It’s not luxurious, but it’s a nice course.”

He added that Countryland’s operating costs would make more sense as well.

“When you talk about municipal golf courses, if the goal is to be able to offer golf to the entire community, you have to look at which is the most cost-effective to operate,” Bell said.

The letter from the course’s principals states that “amidst tough and uncertain economic conditions, Countryland’s owners trust that as stewards of Forsyth County the Board understands the necessity to fully examine all available options.”

Bell and Harrell did not know if the commission would consider the proposal, but said any discussions about acquiring land would occur in executive, or closed, session.

E-mail Frank Reddy at