Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Once One of State's Best, Ravines Now in Disrepair; 'It's Just a Shame What's Happened to It'

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Once One of State's Best, Ravines Now in Disrepair; 'It's Just a Shame What's Happened to It'

Article excerpt

Byline: BILL JOHNSON

The Clay County golfing community mourned its latest loss this week, after the closure of The Ravines Golf and Country Club Monday. But many had bid farewell to the course some time ago, after it was allowed to fall into considerable disrepair.

"I played it about a year ago," said John Pigg, the assistant pro at Eagle Harbor.

"The layout of it is just great," said Pigg, a Tennessee transplant. "It kind of reminded me of the hilly courses back home."

But, he added, "It was just in very poor condition at that time," so he never went back.

From the backyards of some Ravines residents who paid premium prices to live on the golf course, one can see tall weeds, washed-out cart paths and burnt-out greens and tee boxes. Between many of the homes and fairways lies debris from last year's hurricanes that was never hauled away.

In front of the clubhouse, a gaping pit about 60 to 70 yards long, 30 to 40 yards wide and maybe 15 to 20 feet deep welcomes visitors with bent irrigation pipes protruding from its sides. It's been that way since 2004, when owner Ken DeBusk dug up the club's scenic Himalayan putting course. No one seems to know why the putting course was destroyed.

Ray Lyons, a Ravines community resident since 1996, hasn't been able to play the golf course for more than a year, since DeBusk revoked memberships of 30 people for signing a petition that opposed his plans to build 65 more homes in the community -- many of them on parts of the current course.

"You don't ban people from playing if you're hurting for money," he said, "unless your intention is to justify closing the course. I used to play the course all the time before I got kicked out. A lot of people did. It was a beautiful course. It's one of the reasons I moved here."

Lyons, a retired social studies teacher, contends that the owner has allowed the course to fall into disrepair and the membership to dwindle so that he might pressure residents into allowing him to plow it under and build houses on it. He said the revoking of memberships as well as the banning of more than a hundred other players have cost the club more than $70,000 a year in dues and greens fees. …

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