The Kingston Whig Standard: by Dan Graham (2007)
Over 25 years of golf course ownership, Cecil Harnden has often heard a 19th-hole lament of patrons. To many, owning a course would be a golfer’s dream come true. “Almost every week that I’ve been at the golf course, someone will say to me, ‘Man, I sure wish I owned my own golf course,’ ” Harnden said. “Well, now I’m presenting an opportunity for someone to do that.” Harnden, who owns and operates Westbrook Golf Club and Kingston Par 3 Golf, is selling his newest addition, Canadian Shield Golf Course, located northwest of Sharbot Lake on Ardoch Road.
The sale of the nine-hole, 956-yard, par-27 executive course, which has a clubhouse, restaurant and pro shop, will be unique. Harnden has chosen a live auction for the sales transaction. Gordon’s Estate Services will conduct the auction on Oct. 27. Harnden estimates the value of the 2,900-sq. foot, fully equipped clubhouse/restaurant at $500,000. However, there is a reserve bid of just $200,000 to start the auction sale. “What is going to happen that day, I have no idea,” Harnden said.
The auction of the golf course is a first for Gordon’s Estates, a Kingston establishment with a 50-year history. “It is our first opportunity for the sale of a golf course. The first one in eastern Ontario as far as I can tell,” said Barry Gordon. He, too, is curious to see how the auction proceeds. Gordon declined to estimate how much the property might sell for. “I can only tell you that if your bid is the high at $200,000, it would probably cost $1 million to $1.5 million to buy,” Gordon said. “But it’s whatever people bid. Somebody is going to get a terrific bargain.”
Harnden said if he was younger he would hold on to the Canadian Shield course, which he acquired in recent years. He likes to keep a hands-on involvement with his golf courses, but that was becoming difficult with a course that is more than an hour’s drive from his home in Bath. His other two courses – Westbrook, an 18-hole course with an executive nine-hole layout, and the Kingston Par 3 – are conveniently close. “When I get back from that trip, my back is very painful,” Harnden said of the commute to Sharbot Lake. “I’m not about to move to that area because I have the two courses here in Kingston. I intend to keep involved with Westbrook, for sure, but I just can’t make that drive up and back anymore. “It needs a younger guy,” he said, adding that he had celebrated the anniversary of his 39th birthday “many times over.”
“I remember when I bought Westbrook 25 years ago. I enjoyed working at it so much I would get angry when it was 11 o’clock and I had to stop. But those days are over. Now is the time for me to downsize.” The Canadian Shield course, originally known as Tumblehome Lodge Golf Club when it opened in 1998,is carved out of a 72-acre parcel of land. The design takes advantage of the rolling hills, the rock outcroppings, forests and water, for the nine holes. There is a modern irrigation system as well as a supply of water from nearby Crotch Lake. “What I hope will happen is the new owners will want to develop it more than I am able to do,” said Harnden. “There is lots of room for development and expansion.”
There are no other courses located near the Canadian Shield, which is in the centre of cottage country in the Land O’Lakes district. Harnden said the course does a good business during the tourist season of June through August. He said Canadian Shield, with its restaurant, lounge and patio, does well in the food-service end of the business. The clubhouse also takes bookings for weddings and private receptions. “Most golf courses, the greater percentage of their business is the golf. We do a terrific restaurant business,” Harnden said. “Campers and the cottage crowd can come over for meals, enjoy watching television and have a drink in an airconditioned bar. Those are nice features. We have all of that.”
Gordon said the auction of their first golf course is a highly anticipated event. “We’re really excited,” said Gordon. “It’s nice to work with a terrific guy and a beautiful asset. It’s a great facility and a great opportunity.”