Nearly 15 years after the Hawk’s Nest golf course was gifted to Ohio State University, it was announced the course will close all 18 holes by Dec. 15 of this year and the property will be sold.
Increasing maintenance costs, aging infrastructure and the inability to use the property for educational purposes drove the decision, according to an OSU College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences press release.
Associate Dean and CFAES Director Ann Dorrance confirmed the news, adding the closure will provide funds for construction projects on the Wooster, Ohio, agricultural campus.
“It was a difficult decision, but if our students and faculty aren’t using it, then it should turn back to the private sector,” she said.
The future of the golf course remains unclear, Dorrance said. It will be at the whim of the next property owners.
“The appraisal is still in progress,” she said, so no asking price has been determined.
While the 18-hole golf course is primarily for golfers, it was used by OSU students and faculty as part of the CFAES turfgrass program.
The program teaches students the science and business of turfgrasses in commercial, residential and recreational settings, according to the OSU website. In short, they learn how to plan, budget and care for all types of turf.
When Earl and Betty Hawkins gifted OSU the property 15 years ago, it filled a golf course-sized hole in its curriculum by using it for turf education. At the time, the gift was valued at $4.6 million, according to Hawk’s Nest website.
The 18th hole Hawk’s Nest golf course, which is owned by Ohio State. (Photo: Mike Schenk/The Daily Record)
“When we were on a quarter system, students drove from Wooster to the golf course for classes, but with the semester system, they just don’t have the timeOhi to drive that far,” Dorrance said.
The semester system only allows students to take two sets of classes per year in the spring and fall semesters, compared to the quarter system, which allowed for four sets of classes each year.
With quarters, students could take turf classes in the warmer months when it was best to receive hands-on golf course management experience before switching to different classes in the colder months, Dorrance said.
To make up for the Hawk’s Nest closure, she said CFAES will have study sites on the Wooster campus that will include turf plots, greens, fairways and more.
“This will not be a mini golf course,” Dorrance said.
Dorrance and her team at CFAES hope to invest money from the sale of the golf course in making the campus more efficient for students and faculty.
CFAES is made up of properties scattered around Wayne County. In some cases, research centers and classes are 30 minutes away, making it difficult for students to attend class on time, Dorrance said.
Some buildings on the campus will be 100 years old in the next 10 to 20 years, she said. More money is spent on maintenance and repairs as those properties age.
Multiple buildings lack air conditioning while other sites lack a student life presence.
“We want to focus on pulling more student life by putting a cafeteria and IT bar in Fisher Auditorium, but it will still remain an auditorium,” Dorrance said.
Other projects include replacing buildings that would cost more to repair than rebuild, constructing greenhouse complexes and creating new dorms, she said.
To pay for these renovations and consolidate its Wayne County presence onto its Wooster campus, OSU will sell the golf course alongside seven other properties, including one in Coshocton County, she said.
Hawk’s Nest Golf Course is nearly 30 years old with infrastructure that needs constant maintenance.
That’s money CFAES can’t afford to spend on a property its students don’t use on a regular basis, Dorrance said, especially, when the college wants to focus its efforts on renovating the Wooster campus.
Between supply chain issues, inflation over the last two years and an aging property, Dorrance said, the golf course became a financial burden.
“It’s a 30-year-old property, so it needed a lot of care, and a lot of the equipment was just as old,” she said.
While Dorrance is sad to see the golf course go, she said, it came down to cold, hard financial figures.
“We need to become more efficient,” Dorrance said.
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The owner said it would “great” if the property remained a golf course.
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