Fairways at Canton near Atlanta to be Revived

An 18-hole course in Canton, Ga., that opened in 2007 but which later experienced financial difficulties and has been closed since this summer will be revived thanks to a deal with a new operator.

In late December, Canton officials signed a lease with Next Generation Golf to reopen the municipal course. The deal allows the company use of the financially failed course at no cost until Year 11 of the lease, when it must begin profit-sharing with the city. The Marietta, Ga.-based company also has the option of buying the $6 million facility at any time after Year 2 of the lease at 50 percent of its appraised value.

The deal involves Next Generation Golf assuming the costs of improving the course and clubhouse for the city. If all goes well, both facilities will reopen for use in summer 2011. Having the facility reopen will benefit the city in keeping up property values, which helps stabilizes tax income, city council members said.

The city took over ownership of the course when its private partner walked away from it. The Rocky Roquemore-designed layout was built as the centerpiece of Macauley Homes' Laurel Canyon development, a 1,225-acre project off Highway 140 in north Canton that originally planned upwards of 1,500 housing units.

After assuming ownership of the course, the city put it up for sale in September, but only got one offer, which officials deemed unacceptable. The city will continue to pay off its part of the initial investment, a total of $2 million, with annual payments of $300,000.

"I really do [feel good]," Mayor Gene Hobgood told the Atlanta Journal Constitution reporter Christopher Quinn. "For now, any expenses are not on the city, other than our continued $300,000 a year we are paying."

"We were hoping to sell it and see it continue to operate as a golf course," Hobgood said. "However, there was no real market for golf courses. This is about as good as we could do."

Councilman Bob Rush said keeping the course operating will also benefit local homeowners by keeping the values of their homes from dropping further in value. The impact fees generated by new homes in the development were supposedly aimed at helping pay for the course's construction, but those fees have fallen drastically due to the housing downturn.

"At least with the golf course open, we don't have to worry about maintaining it and two million-dollar buildings and we don't have to worry about vandalism," Rush told Quinn.