Boca Raton’s new golf course could open around when municipal course closes

BOCA RATON — A sought-after public golf course near the Boca Teeca neighborhood could open within two years, around the time hundreds of regular golfers will lose Boca Raton Municipal Golf Course west of city limits.

The Greater Boca Raton Beach and Park District, a taxing body separate from the city, is in the process of buying Ocean Breeze Golf Club — a long-closed, decrepit 27-hole course on Northwest Second Avenue near Yamato Road — for $24 million. A designer from a lengthy list of proposers, including firms associated with A-list golf pros, such as Tom Lehman, Greg Norman and Jack Nicklaus, is expected by the end of the month.

Meanwhile Boca Municipal, the 194-acre course on Glades Road west of Florida’s Turnpike, will close within 18 months of December, when the city sold it to home developer GL Homes for $65 million.

“If people want to play golf, the first thing we do is build that golf course,” Arthur Koski, director of the beach and park district, saif of the new course.

It will likely take 6 months to design the golf course, which abuts the Boca Teeca condominium community and was once a fully-operational championship course. It could take another 15 months to construct the course, putting the timeline of opening within six months of Boca Municipal closing.

Some of the more than 20 employees of the municipal course will move over to the new chamionship course, Koski said. 

“We just don’t want to see people out of work,” he said.

But as is always the case with land deals and construction, there’s no way to tell if the closure or opening will be delayed, the district concedes.

“I do believe we can move this thing forward, fast-track it,” Robert Rollins, chairman of the district’s board, said of the new golf course, which will be named Boca Raton Championship Golf Club.

Some residents are wary of a high-profile golf name partnering on the course.

“What we’d like to see is kind of maintain that same ambiance (at the municipal course) at this new facility,” said Thomas Vasell, a regular golfer at the municipal course. “Don’t select the most prestigious – we don’t want a ‘Tom Lehman golf club’ ... Don’t be overwhelmed by reputation.”

Golfers at the municipal course want reasonable fees and a course similar to the 18-hole municipal one, said Greg Golanis, president of the Boca Golf Association which represents more than 200 golfers at the municipal course.

“I think that golfers that patronize the city golf course need to be involved in the selection process and design of the golf course,” Golanis said.

The district board will privately interview some or all of the 15 proposers to design the new golf course. The board will then publicly select an architect likely at the end of January.

The design could include a golf school, hotel and golf club, depending on which proposer the district chooses to partner with.

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