By MICHAEL BURWELL
One final push to keep Red Hawk Run Golf Course open came up short. As a result, Findlay will be losing another course.
The minimum monetary commitment in shares of stock and memberships was not met by Tuesday night’s deadline, so the course will not reopen, according to Gene Fernandez, treasurer of the Red Hawk Run Community Association board.
“We were unsuccessful in getting enough people to commit to shares of stock and membership, so we are not going to open,” Fernandez said.
A total of $700,000 — $500,000 in stock and $200,000 in memberships — was the minimum amount needed for the course to reopen. Fernandez said about 60 shares of stock (minimum of 100 at $5,000 per share needed) and $50,000 in memberships were committed.
“It needed the support of Hancock County and it’s just never had it. It’s kind of telling you what we saw over all these years,” Fernandez said. “It’s a terrible time. I think had we done this in January, it might have had a different turnout, but it is what it is.”
Immediate plans for the land have not been determined yet, but Fernandez said a committee will determine exactly what they will mow and maintain.
The RHRCA, one of two owners of the property, represents about 90 residential lots around the course.
“We have a master planning committee who will now determine exactly what will we mow, do we keep a few holes to play around on. That part hasn’t been determined yet, exactly what the mowing plan is going to be,” Fernandez said. “We have a basic idea of what we talked about last year when we were going to buy it.”
Red Hawk Run, located about two miles east of Findlay on U.S. 224, opened in 1999 and was one of the best new courses in the country. The 18-hole, par 72 links-style layout was named the sixth Best New Affordable Golf Course in American by Golf Digest Magazine in late 2000.
When the $4.5 million course opened, it was owned by about 14 local investors. The course has gone through multiple ownership changes in the past two years.
The RHRCA purchased 137 acres and three commercial structures on the course’s east side on Dec. 31 from Nick Reinhart, who owned the course from May 2018 to December. Paul Kalmbach, owner of Kalmbach Feeds in Upper Sandusky, purchased the remaining 90 acres on the west side along with the clubhouse and pavilion on Jan. 10.
The homeowners association purchased the land around the houses so it could maintain and control it in case the course did close down.
“You see all the people out here walking and riding their bicycles, and we’re still going to keep it very nice and it’s going to be a great place to live,” Fernandez said. “It would have been nice to remain a beautiful Arthur Hills golf course, but it’s too big for the community.
“… We had a lot of people step up to commit to buy shares of stock and/or a membership. We had about 70 percent of the people out here that wanted to do that and were willing to volunteer as well. They really stepped up and wanted to make this happen. But when you look at it, it’s too big for just a community.”
Red Hawk Run joins the list of Findlay area courses that have closed since 2014. Oak Mallett Golf Club in Findlay shut down in 2014, while Broken Birdie Golf Club (formerly Wayside) in Findlay and Shady Acres Golf Course in McComb have also closed down within the last couple years.
Red Hawk Run was the home course for Van Buren’s boys and girls golf teams since 2000. Arcadia has also called Red Hawk home at different points during that span. The course has hosted numerous OHSAA tournaments, as well as college tournaments for the University of Findlay.
Van Buren boys golf coach Eric Heitkamp said there are “no real direct plans at this point in time” as to what course will be their new home.
“There’s a lot of great opportunities and golf courses out here and hopefully somebody will find it beneficial for them to open their doors for us and consider letting us continue the tradition and the program that we’ve been able to build at Van Buren,” Heitkamp said. “Red Hawk was certainly a big part of that success.”
After taking over the Black Knights’ program in 2002, Heitkamp helped continue Van Buren’s stellar program by leading the team to eight state tournament appearances, 15 Blanchard Valley Conference titles and numerous sectional and district titles.
He said there will be a lot that he’ll miss about the course.
“When people say it’s been a second home, that is no joke. That has been a place for me to … it’s been everything to me,” Heitkamp said. “It’s been relationships and it’s been memories. Even already today chatting with a few kids and former players and here most recently, it’s been a home for me and my own children and that’s what we’re going to miss.”