October 19, 2012

Crooked Creek Closed

Potential buyer in wings

By Nita Johnson
Staff Writer

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — Ropes blocked the parking lot of a popular golf course Thursday and community members are pondering its fate.

But the closing of Crooked Creek Golf Course is, hopefully, a temporary measure that manager Ron Roberts believes is short-lived.

“Mr. (Mike) Nami, who owns the course, said to close it, so I did,” Roberts said. “We are meeting with a potential buyer who has some really good ideas and we hope to have more news by next week.”

“We’re just winding the season down,” he added. “It was the owner’s decision to close and I did so on Thursday.”

Roberts said he was not privy to other details involving the circumstances that prompted Nami to close the course, and also could not disclose any specifics of the potential buyer.

Roberts said he is hopeful the course will reopen soon under a new owner.

“We will still be maintaining the course,” he said. “We opened it as a public course and we had a very successful season. We have the right combination of things going here, we just want to continue it.”

Roberts said the public golf course had brought in many more people to Crooked Creek, located off Ky. 229.

“Just recently we had eight people from Michigan come out and play. They were on their way back home and saw the signs and came out,” he said. “Just this week, we had a couple from Dayton, Ohio, who came and played. This is something that will pay off for the entire town. People will come here as a destination instead of just stopping by because this is a nice golf course.”

Despite its closing, Roberts said groups who have booked the banquet hall can rest assured that their reservation will be honored.

“We have some weddings, a baby shower, a beauty pageant and other things scheduled and we will keep those dates,” he said. “If something happens that the buyer doesn’t (come through) and we remain closed, then we will pro-rate all memberships and refund their money.”

But Roberts said he doesn’t see that happening, since the golf course is an extremely popular site for golfers and has hosted many pro and amateur events in the past several year. The banquet hall is frequently booked for special events, which is also a revenue-generating feature to the facility.

“I’m sure we’ll have no problem with reopening under a new owner,” he added. “This is way too nice a course for it to sit empty.”

Crooked Creek came under Nami’s ownership in 2006 and he immediately invested about $6 million of his own money to improve the course and construct a restaurant, fitness center and training facility. In 2008, the facility was closed for a weekend in July when a lease agreement fell apart. The facility reopened the following Tuesday, with Nami stating at that time that he was seeking to sell the facility or have a golf management company to run it.

While the economic crisis did affect in some part the operation of the facility during the early days of Nami’s ownership, opening the course to the public was a step forward for the facility. Although some rumors abounded that Nami himself was in financial trouble and had filed for bankruptcy, Roberts vehemently denied such a claim.

“That is absolutely not true. At least not to my knowledge, as of today (Friday),” he said.

Calls to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Lexington verified that statement, as the clerk said there had been no such filing by Nami.

Ditto for Nami’s attorney, Don Kelly of Wyatt, Tarrant and Combs law firm in Louisville. Kelly said the firm represents Nami’s various business ventures.

“Eagle Capital is the company that owns Crooked Creek, and as of now, there is absolutely no intention to bankrupt that company,” Kelly said.

Roberts said negotiations with the potential buyer had been going on for several days and that he hoped to have news on the sale next week.

Attempts to reach Nami on Friday were unsuccessful.