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Daily Journal
     April 22, 2022      #62-112 KDJ

Manteno Golf Club in limbo 

By Chris Breach

MANTENO — When the Village of Manteno sold the Manteno Golf Club in February, the prospects for the 18-hole course to reopen were favorable.

It is possible there may not be another golf ball struck at the location.

The course reopening anytime in the immediate future is unlikely now, according to new owners Alexander Real Properties LLC of Bourbonnais, which paid $600,000 for the property through a bid process. 

"We did let the [village] know that we’re not intending to open it at this time," said Matt Alexander, who is the son of Jerry and Nancie Alexander, the principal owners. "We had higher hopes. … It’s just not financially viable. We were going to have to put way too much into it to make it work. It’s not the way we had hoped and anticipated."

The Manteno Golf Club, including a restaurant-banquet facility on the grounds, had been operated by the nonprofit group, Save Our Golf Course, for the past 14 years. The lease between the group and the village expired in October 2021, and the group decided to discontinue operating the facility. The board then put the 18-hole course up for sale.

Alexander didn't completely rule out the slight possibility that Manteno Golf Club reopens as a golf course.

"We are still working with someone who could operate it [as a golf course]," he said. "I don’t want to get anyone’s hopes up. We told the village that we don’t want to operate it as a golf course."

Manteno Mayor Tim Nugent said there was no stipulation when the village sold the property that it had to be operated as a golf course.

"Any decision that comes out there belongs to them and not us," he said.

Rumors had circulated the past week that the property would not reopen as a golf course and be sold in parcels.

Alexander confirmed such a possibility is on the table.

"Now, we have to figure out what to do," he said. "We could farm it. It could be a solar farm, and we’ve been contacted by someone interested in that. We’re going to look at what can be done with the clubhouse."

If Manteno Golf Club was to reopen as a golf course, it might benefit from recent numbers that indicate golf's popularity is on the upswing. After several years of disappointing participation numbers, a study released by the National Golf Foundation in April 2021 showed a marked increase.

According to a story in Golf Digest magazine in 2021, "The NGF count showed 24.8 million golfers in the U.S. in 2020, an increase of 500,000 and 2 percent over 2019. It is the largest net increase in 17 years. New players (both beginners playing their first round and lapsed golfers coming back to the game for the first time in years) numbered 6.2 million, the highest that number has ever been."

In addition, women golfers were part of that surge, increasing by 8 percent, or 450,000, over the previous year. They make up nearly a fourth of all golfers, and that was the highest number over the past five years.

But would that make the Manteno Golf Club worth a substantial additional investment? That remains to be seen, but Alexander Real Properties owned Aspen Ridge Golf Course for a few years before selling it in May 2021 to Brian Rogers.

"We’ve done it," Alexander said. "It’s not that hard. We were hoping to start at the 20- or 40-yard line, but we’re back at the 1."

Alexander said he just can't sit on the property.

"We have to do something with it," he said, noting they would like to find someone interested in the clubhouse. "It’s great bones out there. It’s a nice building, and it has got real potential."

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