— After 93 years, the shareholder-owned
in Willmar is being sold to a new Minnesota partnership company — Birdie Boys LLC.
Established in November in Albertville, the partnership is headed by Chad Pendill and Chris Sauer.
Eagle Creek Golf Club was founded in 1931 as a nine-hole course just north of Willmar. Another nine holes were added in 1962. The original nine holes of the golf course were updated in 1994. The course is located at 1000 26th Ave. N.E., Willmar, along Kandiyohi County Road 24.
“I am from Willmar originally, I grew up playing the golf course. For me personally, I have a lot of ties back to it. … There is a lot of camaraderie out there. Golf became really popular during the pandemic when you couldn’t really do a lot of things indoors and golf was a major part of what people were doing,” said Ross Magnuson, Eagle Creek’s current board president.
The sale, which was put together by the Eagle Creek Board and shareholders, will include the entire golf course including the land, buildings, equipment, inventory and The Oaks restaurant, which remains open.
The sale has not been due to a lack of use. According to Magnuson, more than 20,000 rounds of golf have been played on the course this year.
“There have been some things that have come up in the last few years that we thought was the best decision for the course to sell,” he said. “When you get that many shareholders, 406 shareholders, a nine-person board, you get turnover like that with golf courses. With different courses and how they are going, we thought it was in the best interest for the course we put it up for sale to someone who has the expertise and experience to be able to do that.”
Sauer, one of the partners, has owned golf courses since 2006 when he bought Cedar Creek Golf Course in Albertville. He graduated from New Mexico State University’s PGA Golf Management program. He has been a PGA Class A member since 1999, according to the Cedar Creek Golf Course website.
Sauer “has 17 years of golf experience owning courses, managing them and running them. Compared to a board — we are business owners and we are members, we are out there golfing. What we want is a really nice golf course we can continue to play in the long run,” Magnuson said.
Pendill, a former Willmar resident, is a 30-year propane industry businessman and owner of Legacy Energy Consulting of Fountain Hills, Arizona, according to his LinkedIn profile. He is an avid golfer.
While an agreement for the sale has been drafted, the deal is not expected to be closed until early January of 2024. According to Magnuson, the money from the sale will be used to pay off the golf club’s current debt.
The course is expected to remain largely the same as a semi-private course which operates through annual membership or pay-as-you-play greens fees. Magnuson does not know at this time what smaller changes will take place.
“The challenge right now is selling golf courses overall. Just finding buyers for golf courses is a challenge. The number one thing for our members is that we have a golf course that is the quality that we have with professional people running that we can have for the next generation of play,” Magnuson said.
Eagle Creek will remain a part of the Willmar community and will continue to provide a place to play for its members.
“It is very important to have in the community. It attracts employees for businesses to hire. It is an outdoor activity people can do. There is a lot of enjoyment when people go out to play golf and then go up to the Oaks after for something to eat. There are a lot of benefits it provides to the community,” Magnuson said.
Levi Jones is the West Central Tribune’s business reporter. After growing up in the Twin Cities, Jones attended Hamline University for journalism and media communications. After graduating in 2020, Jones has worked as a reporter covering anything from sports to politics.