Blighted golf course 'tees off' Petaluma residents

In the North Bay, some Petaluma residents are alarmed about blight and fire danger at a shuttered golf course.

The Adobe Creek Golf Course was the jewel of the subdivision by the same name, but since closing in January, has become brown and dusty, overgrown with weeds and tall grass.
"It's a hay field, this is an eyesore, and it isn't what we paid for," homeowner Andy Rounds told KTVU, looking out at the dilapidated course from his backyard.

Rounds says he keeps his window shades down, hiding the view he always loved. 

The neighborhood was designed around the course, built in 1990.

But now cart paths are cracked, bunkers unrecognizable, tee boxes destroyed. 

"The grass was waist-high until a few weeks ago," complained Rounds, " and the city had to threaten the owner with getting fined, fined every day it wasn't taken care of or mowed, for fire safety."

The course has changed hands over the years, and been bankrupt before, but the current owner shut it down after five years, claiming it was losing too much money with too few golfers and rising expenses.

 "Often, golf courses need clubhouses to be profitable, and it's a big draw, and a revenue stream," homeowner Scott Duff told KTVU.

Duff and others note the clubhouse, which might have been a destination, never opened under the current ownership.

Plus, they say, the course layout was modified to make it less expensive to maintain, which made it less desirable to play. 

Success, critics say, was handicapped from the start.

"There are retirees here, and the single most important purpose they bought here, was to be able to golf," declared Duff.

"And other folks, who moved and bought here, intended to retire on a golf course, and it's very important to them." 

More than 300  Adobe Creek households have been surveyed:  Would they be willing to pay $200 a month to restore golf or possibly $70 monthly to maintain the open space?

Other possibilities being floated: building homes, a vineyard, a winery, and preserving a nine hole course.
But there are several players involved. Some of the course is in Sonoma County jurisdiction, the rest is inside city limits.

Petaluma's original zoning specifies the property remain a golf course until 2039.

"We're hopeful the golf course will get sold to someone who will make it better," homeowner Glenn McFarland told KTVU, "and the community is definitely on board to support that."  

McFarland says the situation dominates conversations among neighbors.
Many homes hover around $1 million in value, and homeowners worry their investment will deteriorate along with the amenity and their views.

"We went from the beautiful manicured environment, green rolling hills, and it's an extension of your backyard and living space," lamented Ghada McFarland, " and now it's just weeds, dead grass, and dead trees."  

There is a homeowners association representing them, but residents say no one in government appears to be championing their interests.

And not only are weeds thriving, but gophers and rats too. 
"I've never had rats before. And that's universal. Everyone I talk to says the rats are now out of control with all this grass," explained Rounds.

The local development group that owns Adobe Creek Golf Course also owns Rooster Run Golf Course in Petaluma, a public course that, by all accounts, is thriving.

Ownership was unavailable to comment Wednesday evening.