Bear Creek in Winthrop Sold

By: Bob Spiwak

Bear Creek Golf Course in Winthrop, Wash., has been sold to a development company based in Santa Barbara, Calif. The property was purchased by the Mike McCormack Real Estate Corp. from Ashley and Linda Court. The price wasn't divulged, although McCormack said it was "somewhere north of $4 million."

The Courts have operated the golf course for the past quarter-century. It was built by Ashley's father, Herman Court, a former Seattle firefighter who moved to the scenic Methow Valley in the North Cascades in the 1960s. Originally a three-hole layout on former farmland, Bear Creek eventually grew to nine holes.

The Court family later purchased land between the course and Pearrygin Lake with the idea of adding another nine holes. But the cost of getting permits proved too high, and the expansion was abandoned.

McCormack has a partner in Bellingham, Wash., Bill Sygotowyicz. The company has projects in Bellingham and near Schweitzer Mountain north of Spokane. They're involved in Mexican developments in La Paz, Punta Mita and the Mayan Peninsula, and have a presence in Hawaii at Wailea as well as several California locations.

McCormack plans to add another nine holes on the vacant property acquired by the Courts next to the lake. Asked when he anticipated construction to begin, McCormack replied, "We have a lot of work to do with the county planning department and other agencies. If things go smoothly over the next six months, we could get going sometime in 2008."

In addition to the golf course, McCormack foresees developing estate-size lots fronting, surrounding and overlooking the revamped course. He anticipates platting 60 to 65 building lots, with some cabins handled like condominiums. Also on the drawing board is a main lodge that would include a new clubhouse with a public restaurant and lounge.

"We are not big time operators," McCormack said. "I look for smaller opportunities. I am a niche developer."

No golf course architect has been hired, though McCormack intimated that interviews are underway. He said he is hopeful there will be support for the project not only from the golfing community, but local residents as well.

McCormack was especially complimentary toward the Courts, with whom negotiations have been in progress since early spring. "Ash and Linda are wonderful people, and we're glad their dreams have come to fruition," he said.