1. Business

Ace Golf to buy closed Plantation Palms course in Land O'Lakes

LAND O'LAKES — Ace Golf, the owner of three golf courses in New Tampa and northern Pinellas, is poised to acquire the closed Plantation Palms Golf Club, with plans for golfers to be walking the fairways in Land O'Lakes by September.

The course, in the 821-home community of the same name on the east side of Collier Parkway, closed two years ago and was listed as a short sale for $1.2 million. On April 26, the U.S. Department of the Interior approved a $700,000 sale to Ace Golf, netting just less than $393,000 toward the debt that owner MJS Golf Group owed on the federally guaranteed note. The closing is scheduled for May 16.

Bill Place, president of Ace Golf, said he expects repairs to the course to cost a minimum of $1.5 million. It's the same conclusion reached in January by a consultant hired by Plantation Palms property owners.

"It's a property that's been neglected for quite a while. The greens are gone. The fairways need to be re-grassed,'' Place said. "It's not quite like starting completely anew, but it's pretty close.''

Place's Ace Golf also rebuilt the Crescent Oaks Country Club in Tarpon Springs in 2011 after it had been shuttered for a year. The company's other properties include the Pebble Creek and Wentworth golf clubs, and driving ranges in Brandon and Riverview.

To make the numbers work, Plantation Palms Homeowners Association members have agreed to buy social memberships to the club for the next several years. In exchange for a $15-a-month surcharge on their association dues, residents will receive discounts and other perks at the country club. Approximately 70 percent of the homeowners approved the social membership obligation, said board member Jim Hammond.

"That was big. It said we want our golf course back, and we're prepared to become good customers of Bill's immediately,'' said Hammond, who formed the group Bring Back Our Course to advocate for the neighborhood's interests.

The 156-acre Plantation Palms Golf Club and 11,000-square-foot clubhouse opened in 2001 on a former orange grove adjacent to the Land O'Lakes Recreation Center. MJS purchased the course in 2011, but shut it down temporarily in August 2013 amid financial troubles. It closed for good in spring 2014, leaving an empty field filled with weeds as a neighborhood eyesore.

"We're delighted to get our course back,'' said Hammond.