E.A. Sports Today

Bringing back Indian Oaks

New owners closing on Saks course; investor meeting set for Monday

Local pawn shop owner and neighborhood resident Ronnie Cofield is buying Indian Oaks Golf Club to help the community.

Local pawn shop owner and neighborhood resident Ronnie Cofield is buying Indian Oaks Golf Club to help the community.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Ronnie Cofield was loading gas cans in the back of his truck when a visitor pulled up to the maintenance barn to wish him good luck on taking over Indian Oaks Golf Club.

He joked that another word might be more appropriate. “Sympathy might be more in line,” he said.

Ready or not, Cofield is about to take control of the 133-acre property, ending nearly 20 years of ownership by Jere Mason Sr. and his family. The deal closes Thursday afternoon.

His attempt to revive the Saks area golf course is driven by a desire to keep it in the community and save the neighborhood in which he resides. The plan is to sell shares of the club to investors, who will then elect a five-member board to oversee the operations of the business.

Coifed, a local pawn shop owner and real estate investor, said he didn’t have a Plan B if his business plan doesn’t take flight.

“I own a golf course, I’m not in the golf business,” Cofield said. “Like I told our committee last night, I did this for the community and for our property values.

“I don’t know a darned thing about running a golf course. I know a little bit about real estate and a little bit about pawn shops. Running a golf course I know absolutely nothing about other than I can sure hack the ball around.”

Neither party would disclose the purchase price, but Cofield placed it in the area of $250,000, which includes the equipment purchased from former lessee/owner Lewis Roberts.

Roberts entered into a lease-to-own agreement last July with the hopes of restoring the course to its past glory, but without adequate financing was forced to turn the keys back to the Masons some four months later. It has stayed shuttered since.

“They asked me last night what happens if this doesn’t make a go of it,” Cofield said. “I said I don’t know, but I will tell you this: I will not go under.”

Mason said he was “tickled the death” about the sale. He has been trying to move the course for about 10 years with several inquiries but few offers.

“I’m ready to get out of it,” he said.

Mason wishes the new owners well, but believes a neighborhood golf course in the current economic climate is going to have a “tough time.”

Cofield hopes to have the golf course operational June 1 with a probable soft opening in May.

He said there are five greens on the course that are “a must to be redone” — 3, 5, 6, 7, 17 — but he wouldn’t be opposed to opening with temporary greens. He initially approached the Texas-based group that installed the Anniston Country Club’s greens, but is considering other options.

“The course has been let go for so many years, so a little bit of fertilizing, aerating and sanding on a regular basis will put 13 of the greens in good shape,” Cofield said.

The new owner will hold a meeting with residents and investors 6:30 p.m. Monday to offer $1,000 shares. The club opened at its original founding with 300 $1,000 shareholders. It had 40 members at the time Roberts took over.

Chic Nix, a neighborhood resident and avid golfer, welcomed the news of an Indian Oaks resurrection.

“Being a part of Indian Oaks my whole life (38 years), I would love to see it back up and running,” he said. “Lots of memories at that place!”

The return of Indian Oaks will bring the lineup of courses in Calhoun County back to eight, joining the private Anniston Country Club and public access Anniston Municipal GC, Cider Ridge GC, Cane Creek GC, Pine Hill CC, Silver Lakes and Stoney Brook GC.

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