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Saratoga Springs bullish, but Cedar Hills ponders sale

SARATOGA SPRINGS — As the owner of the new Saratoga Springs golf course welcomed enthusiasts of the sport to his fairways and greens, the owner of another Utah County golf course is thinking about getting out of the business.

Cedar Hills' City Council decided last year to look at options regarding the Cedar Hills Golf Club — and that included the possibility of putting it up for sale. The club opened in August.

The new course in Saratoga Springs — called TalonsCove Golf Club — opened the front nine holes May 15 and plans to open the back nine by June 5 on 175 acres west of Utah Lake across Redwood Road from the Saratoga Springs city offices.

"The bottom line is we're going to have a wonderful facility with spectacular vistas, challenging for those who want a challenge but very friendly for those who prefer a little less challenge," said Doug Horne.

Horne became sort of a de-facto golf course developer after his partners in housing development decided they weren't interested in taking on the task of seeing the golf course finished.

As a result, Horne has spent considerable personal energy and money pulling the course out of a bankruptcy and gathering together enough water for the west lake-shore property.

"I bailed this thing out, paid the bills and continued to look for another partner. Now, I'm just delighted that I have no partner," Horne said. "It really was a storm, probably the most difficult project I've ever taken on."

Meanwhile, in Cedar Hills, a number of residents are calling on the city to get out of the golf course business and get rid of the $6.4 million indebtedness for the revenue bonds taken out to build the course.

"Yes, we voted to sell it. We did that partly to please the vocal minority," said Councilwoman Melissa Willie. "But in my opinion, I think we should wait."

Willie said if an offer materializes before a year is out, she won't vote to sell the course.

"If it comes right down to it, I won't vote to sell it when it could be the greatest asset Cedar Hills could have," Willie said.

Cedar Hills currently has no commercial district and very little tax base, and the golf course could make the city money.

Konrad Hildebrandt, Cedar Hills city administrator, said while the course is for sale, it's a very low-key, soft-sell effort.

"Even though they voted to sell it, they need a financial history of at least a year before we can try and really put it out on the market," Hildebrandt said.

Hildebrandt said several letters have been mailed out to see if anyone is interested in leasing, managing or purchasing the course.

A consultant will be at the Tuesday City Council meeting to discuss some of the options.

Utah County currently has eight municipal golf courses.

A feasibility study conducted in 2002 for Cedar Hills showed the area could support up to 13 public courses.