John Carson described La Purisima Golf Course near Lompoc as one of the most difficult courses he has ever played.
The first time Carson tested the course was during a PGA match play tournament in the early 1990s. But La Purisima’s vice president and general manager said he might not have many more rounds left.
The 306-acre course is up for sale for $6.25 million, Carson said Tuesday, noting that there aren’t enough people playing 18 holes.
“It’s being marketed as more of a vineyard/winery/tasting room operation rather than a (stand-alone) golf course,” Carson said. “If that were to happen, I don’t know what the owner would do — keep it open to the public or make it private. We want everyone to know they should play it now because it might not be around.
“We’ve seen a drop-off over the past few years; a lot of it is due to the economy. Golf rounds in general have not been what we hoped they would be over the last few years, especially with the quiet announcement late last fall that it was for sale.”
Investors privately announced in November that the course was up for sale but recently made the listing public after rumors that La Purisima was shutting down.
Kenneth Hunter Jr. developed the course in 1986 with no commercial development or housing. It was rated No. 40 nationwide in a Golf World Magazine reader’s choice list and the 33rd toughest course by Golf Digest.
“In 1986, there were a lot less courses between Los Angeles and San Francisco than there are now,” Carson said. “Now, there are a lot more choices, and especially with the economy and gas prices it’s hard.”
Carson said people in the golf industry have to think outside of the box when it comes to cutting expenses and attracting new players.
“Golf needs to get cool again,” he said. “’You can’t wear that T-shirt or those jeans,’ that type of mentality has to go.”
Carson said La Purisima employs 25 to 40 people, depending on the season, who may lose their jobs depending on the new ownership.
“I think a lot of golfers would feel like they have lost an old friend,” Carson said.