Arrowhead Country Club

Arrowhead Country Club members play a round of golf at the San Bernardino club on Tuesday. The club is seeking its first new buyers since World War II. (John Valenzuela — Staff Photographer)

By Ryan Hagen, The Sun
Posted: 03/03/15, 7:58 PM PST | Updated: 48 secs ago

SAN BERNARDINO >> Arrowhead Country Club, which drew stars in Hollywood’s Golden Age to golf and still stands as a symbol of luxury in a city fighting a different reputation, is looking for its first new buyer since World War II.

The 73 percent vote to invite a buyer other than the equity members who’ve owned it through the Arrowhead Corporation, shouldn’t be read as anything other than a way to improve a course and club that are doing fine but could use improvement, said general manager Wayne Austin.

“We’re holding our own,” Austin said Tuesday, the day before an annual membership meeting where he expected more to be decided. “But there’s always room for improvement, further investment, enhancement, maybe a hybrid bermuda (grass) as opposed to the common bermuda on the fairway. A new pizza oven would be nice.”

Austin said multiple potential buyers have expressed interest — he wouldn’t say who or how many — and all of them would keep it as open grass.

“The property cannot be subject to development under any circumstance,” he said. “It’s deeded as such. It must be used as park, recreation (or) golf course.”

Austin acknowledged the club holds $553,000 in debt, but he said that’s been on the books for years.

“It goes back 10, 20 years,” he said. “It’s the same debt. We retire debt, then we incur more — the landscaping equipment is very expensive.”

And this tax year showed a loss for tax reasons, because of depreciation, but excluding depreciation the year ended in the black, he said.

Membership, meanwhile, is at 300 paying members, down “about 35” from last year. But Austin expects a new introductory program implemented last year — new members can get 12 months of access for $275 a month, plus a $250 down payment — to continue attracting new members.

“We have 34, 35 members in that program right now, and we hope to reach 50 by the end of May,” Austin said. “We just voted in the mayor (San Bernardino Mayor Carey Davis) as a full-fledged member last Wednesday.”

Some homeowners overlooking the course, conscious of the advancing age of the average golfer and other demographic trends that don’t seem to spell success for golfing, are skeptical.

“I don’t know what the solution is — all I know is it’s in terrible shape,” said Daniel S. Malmuth, who lives beside the course and is also the historical commissioner for the 7th Ward, where the course is located.

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