Short time left for golfers, neighbors to choose to invest in The Oaks at Sherwood

Photo provided by staff
Thursday, July 18, 2013 - 8:00am

The former general manager of The Oaks at Sherwood golf course has an ambitious plan to save it, and is giving himself little time to do so.

Blaine Patin hosted a meeting Wednesday night at the course to explain his plan to turn The Oaks into a private club, with roughly 100 people in attendance.

He wants 450 people to contribute $6,000 to cover its bank note. In addition to membership, they would get equity stakes in the property. Patin described the best-case scenario being a club that lasts for 100 years, with multiple generations learning to love the game. The worst-case scenario would allow them to still have control over the land, which they could sell to recoup their investment.

"I think there's enough value associated with that $6,000 that makes it worth it for enough people," he said, judging his chances for success. The main obstacle will be to get those 450 commitments soon enough. Patin told the audience his deadline is next Thursday, July 25.

"If it's right for you, it's right for you, you're gonna know it right away," he reasoned. "Within the next couple of days, you're going to know. You may know tonight."

For some, the value of buying into the club would be to simply get out on the fairways whenever they want. The course has opened and closed more than once in the decades since it was built. It's players say the sense of community and camaraderie, as well as their love of the game, is why they want to bring it back one more time.

"This place reopening gave me the opportunity to keep going, to get my scholarship, to go to school, and to play golf," said Ross Lewis, an incoming junior on the Louisiana-Lafayette golf team.

For others, the value would be financial. The $6,000 initiation and $275 monthly dues are lower than many other private clubs, and Patin claimed that would be enough to allow the club to turn a profit. But a large number of the people in attendance Wednesday do not play golf. Instead, they live on or near the course and believe it is beneficial for their real estate.

"I don't know what we're going to get if we don't save it," Donnie Chatelain told the group. "I don't know how that's going to affect my property value, your property value."

"I don't want to see this sit here undeveloped," agreed Patin. "If you look at Fairwood (Country Club), right down the road, they've got roughly 50 acres that have sat there undeveloped. And I also don't want to see it developed into something that you guys would not be happy with."

While 450 is his goal and his maximum, Patin said he would proceed with the plan if he comes close to getting that many members.

"I'm not putting my money up, and I'm definitely not going to ask you to put your money up, because realistically, we're going to be back in the same position," of struggling to stay open, he stated. "So that's why I say I have to put a baseline, and 400 is where it's at."

He claimed that a significant number of people have already committed to buy into the club. But he would not give an exact number, fearing some people would not get involved on the assumption that everyone else would take care of the problem.  

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