Fights over fairways are going on all over South Florida. Residents want to keep their golf-course views, while club owners are looking for more lucrative uses for the land, including houses, retail, and even cemeteries.
One old boat, two tires, and many piles of construction trash line the once beautiful fairways of Westview Golf Course in Opa-locka. The course closed two years ago and new owners want to turn this land into warehouse and office space, angering residents.
“No neighborhood should have to deal with this," said resident and attorney Gregory Samms. "If you're a neighborhood and you're already existing, you have to deal with the fact that an industrial zone is going to be across the street. That's insanity."
Residents all over South Florida are feeling the same way. They bought their property with golf-course views, sometimes paying a premium. But declining revenues forced some courses to close, freeing up large tracts for redevelopment.
Parts of Woodmont Country Club in Tamarac are slated for retail.
”Everybody here bought their homes with some sort of a guarantee that that golf course was going to be here until the year 2074," said Woodmont resident Toni Appel. "People figured I'd worry then."
They're worried now and, like Westview, have filed suit.
Homeowners are finding out their communities don't always own the courses behind their homes. Now, they don't like what's happening when the golfing stops.
”It's been a struggle for the community,” said Deerfield Beach resident Robert Freund, who lives on the old Tam-O-Shanter course.
Hurricanes in 2005 devastated the property and owners couldn't afford to get it up and running again. Now plans call for a 52-acre cemetery.
“It was definitely the lesser of all evils,” Freund said.
Some communities are being pro-active when land becomes available. The town of Davie stepped in to rescue the old Arrowhead Country Club, turning it into a city course.
”I think the general consensus was this is an opportunity for us to expand our parks and rec facilities and offer a new amenity to our residents,” said Town Commissioner Bryan Caletka.
Retirees at Century Village in Deerfield Beach are spending $5 million to buy their old course.
However, residents surrounding Westview know the 200 acres will never be a golf course again. The land is worth too much money.
"It's the money that is pulling this train. It is our politicians that are selling us out," Samms said. "It's the law that can be manipulated by money and lawyers that are selling us out."
Samms and other Westview residents want to delay construction as long as possible and hopes somebody comes along with a plan for houses and retail for the site.