The Sherwood Hills Golf Course has yet to open for the season, and its fate is up in the air.
Although the owners of the facility in Sardine Canyon did not return phone calls this week, The Herald Journal learned independently that a decision was made not to immediately reopen for business this spring.
“No Trespassing” signs have been posted at the entrance gate to the golf course along U.S. Highway 89-91, and since snow left the ground earlier this spring, no mowing or other groundskeeping activities have taken place on the nine-hole golf layout. A cellphone number listed for the Sherwood Hills pro shop answers as “unavailable.”
The golf course and adjoining resort-hotel, which most recently served as a drug rehabilitation facility, are under separate ownership, but the two have been listed for sale together in an advertisement appearing online since last June. With a sale price of $18.3 million, the combined properties are billed as “ideally suited for a healthcare center or a recovery center.”
An agent for Colliers International, the real-estate company listing the property, said no sale has been negotiated to date, but he declined further comment.
The real-estate advertisement touts a variety of amenities, including the golf course, the 60-room hotel, a fully equipped restaurant, a large indoor pool, a 40-unit condominium building, a tennis court and “more than 900 acres of property with redevelopment potential.”
The golf course was built in 1972 as part of a deal between the developers of the Sherwood Hills resort and Mark Ballif of Ogden, a well-known regional golf course designer. Bailiff died in 2014, but his family continued to operate the course through last fall.
County records list the golf property under the name Mark Dixon TR Ballif of Ogden and the resort property as owned by SHHP LCC of Provo.
Meandering through the trees at the edge of the Wellsville Mountain Wilderness, Sherwood Hills has been widely thought of as one of Utah’s most scenic golf courses, but the overall resort has struggled to be successful and has gone through a number of incarnations over the past three decades.
The hotel has sat abandoned since June of 2016 following the closure of the Sherwood Hills Recovery Resort, a live-in drug addiction treatment facility raided and shut down by the Utah Department of Human Services for a variety of state licensing violations.
In 2014, Ballif fought hard against government approval of the facility, arguing the stigma of drug addicts staying near the golf course would drive away his customers. After the treatment center opened, he complained clients were vandalizing the course.
Sherwood Hills is in the city of Wellsville, zoned RPD, which stands for Recreational Planned Development. Wellsville City Manager Scott Wells said the zoning allows for a variety of uses, including a low-density subdivision, and the city has received inquires from potential buyers of the property to explore development options.
If the golf course does not reopen, it could mean more customers for other public courses in Cache Valley, but Birch Creek golf professional Eric Kleven said he would not welcome Sherwood Hills’ demise, even if it did boost his business a bit.
“Sherwood Hills is in a beautiful setting that promotes golf, and I don’t like to see any golf courses close down. It’s not healthy for the business,” Kleven said. “At the same time, do I think we have a big enough population for the amount of golf courses we have here? I would definitely have to say no, we don’t.”
But Kleven added he isn’t sure regular golfers at Sherwood Hills would necessarily wind up at Birch Creek in the event of a closure.
“I don’t know how big of a clientele they really had. It wasn’t busy,” he said. “They did offer two-for-one deals that were popular with senior citizens, but who knows, most of them could go to Eagle Mountain (in Brigham City) if Sherwood Hills is closed.”
In lieu of a sale, some local golf enthusiasts have wondered if the course could be saved through a lease to an outside management company, as the city of Logan considered for its golf course last year.
But this could become more and more difficult the longer maintenance on the course is neglected. Driving through Sardine Canyon, Kleaven said he’s noticed “snow mold” on the greens, which appears to be the result of not properly treating them at the end of last season.