tbo: Tampa Bay Online.
Sunday, May 28, 2017

New manager sees bright future for aging, troubled Plant City golf and country club

The troubled Walden Lake Golf and Country Club has a new manager.

Lynn Archibald, owner of Professional Golf Global Group, this week took over management of the aging golf and country club from Visions Golf LLC, which still owns the property.

The 44-year-old Plant City resident promises immediately to update equipment and improve conditions on the 18-hole golf course, The Lakes. A sister 18-hole course, The Hills, will remain closed and is targeted for development.

Archibald plans to reopen the country club’s grill and open a full-service pro shop. The country club’s swimming pool also reopened recently in anticipation of the management change.

“I love this community and I believe we can bring this back to its heyday,” Archibald said.

Bill Griffin, a country club member for 25 years, said all of the golfers have been impressed with Archibald’s enthusiasm and plans.

“If he can deliver a fraction of what he says, it will be fantastic,” Griffin said. “He basically told us, ‘Give me 45 days, and you won’t believe the difference you’ll see.’ ”

Walden Lake once boasted 36 holes of golf that drew celebrity players. But the country club has fallen on hard times in recent years and its membership dwindled to fewer than 50 people.

Visions Golf two years ago shuttered The Hills course, saying it was losing money. Last year the company filed for a rezoning that would clear the way for development of hundreds of homes and an adult congregate living facility, largely on the footprint of the closed course.

The city commission is expected to decide on the rezoning petition in late summer to early fall.

Details of Archibald’s contract weren’t released but he said if the city approves the rezoning, millions of dollars generated by the development would be spent to pay off debt and rebuild and refurbish The Lakes golf course and country club. Ultimately, he said, his company would own the golf and country club, debt free.

Visions Golf Managing Partner Steve Mercer, who managed the golf and country club for nearly nine years, said he will continue to take the lead role in the company’s rezoning efforts.

Archibald, who said he has lived in Plant City for three years, said he formed his company last fall after he graduated from a golf course management school.

He said he has been a lifelong golfer but only in recent months decided he wanted to operate a course. The Navy veteran said his background includes some acting, real estate development and ownership of a pool hall.

He said he learned of Walden Lake’s troubles during a round of golf and started to pursue a deal that was about three months in the making.

dnicholson@tampatrib.com

(813) 394-5103

Twitter: @dnicholsonTBO

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