Nine-hole par-3 course proposed as fun compromise at White Hawk

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By Ken MacLeod

A compromise has been put forward to the warring parties in the battle over the former White Hawk Golf Course in Bixby. Whether it gains traction remains to be seen.

The Home Owners Association representing the neighborhood surrounding the course has sued the developer, Black Gold Group led by CEO Kevin Jordan and he has countersued the HOA. White Hawk closed in 2019 after Roger Rodich, who leased the course from Jordan after he purchased it from Gerald Pope in 2108, said he could not make a go of it financially and shut it down. Pope had estimated American Golf was losing $750,000 annually on golf operations toward the end of a 20-year lease for operations that ended in 2018.

The compromise proposed is to build a nine-hole par-3 course utilizing a small portion of the previous course while the rest would be used for development and green space.

The course would be designed by Oklahoma City-based architect Colton Craig and operated by a firm he has started called Craig & Coyne.  Under this plan the City of Bixby would purchase or own the land for the new course and lease it to the builders/operators of the golf course.

The course would be open to the public, include a large practice putting green and would be walking only.

Bixby City Manager Jared Cottle said a requirement for the city to get involved would be both parties dropping their lawsuits and agreeing to the proposal. Or for 60 percent of the home owners at White Hawk to sign a release of the deed restriction in their titles that prevents the land from being developed. He estimated that close to 50 percent have already signed the release.

Cottle said the city remains opposed to owning and operating a municipal course but would love to see public golf remain in the city.

“We’ve never been against golf, we’d love to see a golf option out there,” Cottle said. “For us it’s always been about getting into an untenable situation with subsidies or development money we can’t support.

“Right now any and all options are on the table for how this could work. We’re keeping the door open and seeing what other unresolved issues are out there.”

Craig has the course designed with holes ranging from 70 to 120 yards and said the short course would be ideal for all golfers, including beginners and children. He said it reflects a growing trend of such courses being built in the wake of the golf boom that started when Covid hit in 2020.

“It’s a great opportunity to grow the game, introduce people to golf and do it in a fun, non-intimidating fashion.,” Craig said. “Think of it like the success of pickleball with tennis, that’s the correlation between short courses and regulation golf.”

Craig said if the suits were resolved his company would be ready to build this summer.

Although the public golf market has bounced back considerably since Covid in 2020, there still has been limited interest by anyone in bringing White Hawk back as a full 18-hole public course, Cottle said.

“We are in the wait-and-see mode,” Cottle said. “At the end of the day, it’s really going to be up to the home owners to see if this is something they want and if they want the city to participate.”

White Hawk opened in 1993 as a Randy Heckenkemper design at a time when the golf market was relatively booming. It closed in the midst of a golf bust nationally and locally that included the closings since 2013 of Clary Fields in Sapulpa, Cotton Creek in Glenpool, Scissortail in Verdigris, Okmulgee Country Club and The Woods in Coweta, The market now has reached a more stable equilibrium between supply and demand.


 

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Ken MacLeod

Publisher Golf Oklahoma | Oklahoma's No. 1 Golf Source

GOLF OKLAHOMA