Letter: Closed Course

Letter to the Editor

Within a few weeks, Malibu’s historical golf course will close. The classic William Francis Bell-designed 18-hole championship course will cease to exist after providing four wonderful decades of competitive golf to local residents at an affordable price. The closure is being triggered by outside multimillionaire hedge fund investors who have re-invented themselves as the non-profit “The Malibu Institute”. These investors bought the course in 2006 at an inflated price of $30 million just before the real estate bubble broke. 

Since they got control, the course has been going steadily downhill. The restaurant and bar were remodeled and then quickly closed. The leased golf carts were not maintained and frequently broke down. Cart paths and fences have not been repaired for years. The new owners even refused to add sand to the bunkers. Several months ago they stopped watering the course. What is left is a pathetic version of what was once a glorious golfing experience – dying trees, burnout fairways and tee boxes. Their proposal is to convert the existing course into a mega conference center/resort hotel at a cost of at least $80 million. This will create even more congestion in the Kanan-Dume/Mulholland corridor and threaten the existing habitat (including the draining of three fragile ponds). It is simply a ploy to circumvent the Coastal Commission and the original provisional use permit requirement that allowed public access to the course. 

If the mega, 300+ bed resort is actually built, local club memberships will not be available and the costs of rounds on a rebuilt course will increase significantly. Their concept is to cater to business executives who will attend “seminars” on who knows what. They warned me that if they were not allowed to sell their resort package to unsuspecting investors, they would proceed to destroy the course and build 20 plus mega estates. 

Hopefully the Coastal Commission and other regulatory boards will see the great harm this plan will bring to the fragile Santa Monica Mountains and deny permits to destroy Malibu’s historic golf course.  

James Austin