A group of five local investors has purchased the Verde Santa Fe Golf Course in Cornville and have renamed it the Agave Highlands.
The course is closed until Sept. 21 as the new owners work on the improving the course, completely restocking the pro shop with new golf equipment and clothing and get ready to reopen the restaurant for breakfast and lunch.
Emanuel Radoccia, the Agave Highland’s head golf professional and manager, said he was excited to get back to the local golf course where he once worked in the golf cart barn while at Mingus Union High School.
The investors, “all with local ties,” are called Arizona High Desert Golf Partners, explained Radoccia, and want to get the golf course up and running so the community can start enjoying this property again.
“First and foremost is agronomy planning,” he said, “which is getting this course back up to the enjoyable and fun conditions that everybody’s going to like.”
Next, Radoccia said they plan to drop the price to entice local golfers, as well as visitors, to play the course.
“As the course conditions worsened, the prices went up,” he said. “So we’re trying to gather those folks that have been hanging out waiting for something good to happen.”
Day rates will drop from $60 for 18 holes to $39 if you are a Yavapai or Coconino resident and $49 per day if you are a non-resident, Radoccio said. There will also be a $25 twilight fee after 3 p.m. All these rates include a cart.
The larger percentage of the golfers who play the Cornville course are from the local communities.
Another one of the investors’ plans is to the get the food and beverage operation fully operational, Radoccia said.
It has been minimal, but now the course will be able to cater events like weddings and community functions, he added.
However, for the time being, it will be “classic golf-menu done to perfection,” Radoccia continued. The one- to three-year-plan is to build a new clubhouse and restaurant which could have dinners and other functions.
Future development would include tearing down the current structures in stages and putting up a permanent golf shop and possibly even an event’s center.
Radoccia said the course owners would like to develop a relationship with the community - not just for golf, but for other events such as festivals or concerts.
He felt the driving range, which will now be open from dawn to dusk, has the potential for community events. Agave Highlands also plans to offer increased golf instruction.
Verde Santa Fe did about 25,000 golfers last year, but when the course is attractive and good condition, Agave Highlands should do about 32,000 in its first year, Radoccia predicted.
“It’s much easier to accept compliments than complaints about the conditions out there.”
Radoccia has been working nearby at the Oak Creek Country Club since 2014. But grew up in nearby Clarkdale and is glad to be back to the area near his family.
Wednesday, the Pro Shop was completely empty except for a few golf bags. Many of the 18 Agave Highlands employees were busy working on the over-seeding project, while working under spectacular views of Sedona to the north and Jerome and Mingus Mountain to the west.
During the over-seeding process, which is when the golf course changes over from a warm-season grass to a cold-grass, the new owners are putting down twice the amount of seed on the 177-acre course than ever before. Radoccia said
“It’s going to be wall-to-wall green in a couple of weeks,” he said.