Like so many rumors, it started on the internet — that the Pebble Creek Golf Club (PCGC) was up for sale.
So we asked Bill Place, who has owned the club since 2005.
“It’s not up for sale,” he says.
But, according to land brokers Cushman & Wakefield, it is indeed up for sale, and is listed on the firm’s website.
The extensive listing touts the 12 existing lakes, homes in Pebble Creek that are selling “in the mid-$200,000s to upper-$300,000s,” an average household income within a three-mile radius of $106,179 and the 3,189,266 square feet of retail within a three-mile radius of the semi-private golf course.
Included is a marketing flyer, water and sewage map, a zoning site plan, Pebble Creek’s declaration of covenants and restrictions (dated Sept. 2, 1986) and a unit count calculation that says 840 apartment and townhome units are potentially feasible to replace the golf course.
Place said he never intended for Pebble Creek to be listed as for sale. He says Cushman & Wakefield were contacted by a builder looking for land, and the firm asked if he was interested.
He merely said he was.
“But, I never requested a listing,” Place says. “Obviously, they seem to be taking it a little further and I need to find out why they would be putting up a listing. I never signed a listing agreement.”
Place says he did call Cushman & Wakefield after he talked to us, and expected the listing to be removed. But as we went to press with this issue, it was still there.
Basically, Place says he isn’t planting a For Sale sign on the first tee and selling Pebble Creek Golf Club publicly.
“But yes, I am absolutely looking at all options,” he says.
And why wouldn’t he?
Business at PCGC continues to trend downward. Over the last year, Place says revenues at the club are down by a third, and profits are down by 50 percent. Some of that he attributes to the construction on Bruce B. Downs (BBD) Blvd., but admits it is an industry-wide slump.
“Is Pebble Creek doing well? No, it’s not doing great at this point,” Place says. “We all need more people to play golf. It seems like the millennials just don’t like to golf as much.”
Membership at PCGC has remained stagnant. Place says despite being surrounded by 1,100 homes, the golf club only has 20 members that are actually Pebble Creek residents.
“That’s not a lot of support,” he says.
PCGC is located at 10550 Regents Park Dr., and boasts 6,436 yards of play from the blue tees. it was designed by Bill Amick and built in 1967.
Place bought the course in 2005, and helped revive it. But, golf courses may be a dying breed, and Place says New Tampa — and all of Florida — is oversaturated with them. Pebble Creek has to compete with private country clubs like Hunter’s Green and Tampa Palms, as well as semi-private Heritage Isles, which are all a short drive away.
That leaves a lot of land — in Pebble Creek’s case, 149 acres worth of it — that potentially has more value to him in the hands of developers. Place is well aware that a few miles north in Wesley Chapel, where it took almost two years of public hearings and government meetings, struggling Quail Hollow Golf & Country Club is now being razed by its owners to make room for 400 homes.
“Even if I assumed the best case and some builder wanted to pay for it, with all the rezoning and public hearings and battles, it may not even be possible here,” Place says. “It certainly was for Quail Hollow.”
Place and wife Su Lee own the company, Ace Golf, that owns Pebble Creek Golf Club, and three other golf courses, along with two driving ranges in Brandon and Riverview.
Two years ago, Ace Golf bought Plantation Palms Golf Club in Land O’Lakes, which had been closed for two years. Ace Golf also owns the Wentworth and Crescent Oaks golf clubs in Tarpon Springs.
He says he has had numerous offers to sell Pebble Creek Golf Club over the years, but nothing concrete, and that’s where it stands now.
But, he knows the rumor is out there. His hope is that it doesn’t hurt business, including at the popular Mulligans Irish Pub inside PCGC, and that the golf club itself can rebound.
“It’s just crazy that we’ve had people walk in and say ‘When are you closing?,’” Place says. “We may never close.”