I-540 Construction To Close Wake Golf Course
Posted May 19, 2006 6:09 a.m. EDT
WAKE COUNTY, N.C. — A combination of factors is forcing Wil Mar Golf Club off the map. The new Interstate 540 section is coming in next door, and development is moving in behind it, so the owners of the club have made a bittersweet decision.
"We're selling the family farm, literally," said owner Fran Wilkerson.
As early as next year, the fairways at Wil Mar will become a residential development, while the clubhouse will become a shopping center.
When the golf course opened in 1961, there were only a handful of places to tee up in the Triangle. Now, the boom of courses built around subdivisions is squeezing out the "little guys" -- the smaller public courses like Wil Mar.
The other big reason Wil Mar is shutting down is right off the 9th tee. The new section of I-540 cuts right through the rough. That makes this property a hole-in-one for resale.
"We think so and several developers think so," said Wilkerson. "This whole area, everything east of the Neuse River basically, hopefully, is getting ready to explode with popularity, housing developments going up and shopping centers."
It's a double bogey for the regulars.
"You know everybody," said golfer Milt Plum. "You call them by their first name, you joke with them. It's just a real, relaxed atmosphere out here, and we hate to see it go."
The owners will stay open as long as possible, but the new highway and the new country club courses make their decision easy.
"We've made it through the emotional decision-making part and now it's getting down to the business of moving on, so that's what we're doing," said Wilkerson.
The new section of I-540 will bring in a lot of new drivers, and turn a lot of other drivers away.
Problems extending water and sewer lines to that potential development could keep Wil Mar Golf Club open beyond 2007.