Writing from Chicago
Friday, December 16, 2016
The Mortell family has sold Balmoral Woods, the Crete golf course it developed and nurtured for 41 years, to HITS, Inc., the hunter/show jumping company which bought nearby Balmoral Park Race Track earlier in the year.
The purchase price was not disclosed, but Links Capital Advisors had Balmoral Woods listed at $1.35 million earlier this year.
David Mortell, the longtime general manager of Balmoral Woods, said his family will still be involved “an a small capacity.”
Balmoral Woods opened under the name of Fairwinds, and as a nine-hole operation, designed by Arthur Davis and Ron Kirby in 1975. The Mortells increased their stake from minority to complete owners in 1977, expanding the course to 18 holes with noted architect George Fazio, designer of Butler National Golf Club, joining owner Don Mortell in the expansion plan. In 1980, the present clubhouse was built. Previously, the current seventh hole was the first hole, and the pro shop was in the basement of what had been a Holiday Inn and now is a senior center.
In the last 15 years, the Mortells converted the fairways from bluegrass to bentgrass, bringing a country club feel to play. But, as rounds fell in the Great Recession, David Mortell took the phrase “country club” out of the name, saying he wanted everyone to feel welcome.
HITS bought Balmoral Park on May 27, with the intention of reopening as a show jumping and equestrian venue for spectator events and training in 2017. The track, originally named Lincoln Fields, hosted racing beginning in 1926.
– Tim Cronin