Bulle Rock Golf Course in Havre de Grace opened earlier this year for the 2018 season, according to its website, despite questions last spring over the course’s future as its owners and owners of the surrounding undeveloped residential property sought to sell.
Bulle Rock Golf Course in Havre de Grace opened earlier this year for the 2018 season, according to its website, despite questions last spring over the course’s future as its owners and owners of the surrounding undeveloped residential property sought to sell. (Brian Krista/The Aegis/Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Bulle Rock Golf Course in Havre de Grace opened earlier this year for the 2018 season, according to the new director of operations, despite questions last spring over the course’s future.

“The golf course is 100 percent open for play now and forever,” Damon Klepczynski, who was named Bulle Rock’s operations director at the end of February, said Thursday.

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In mid-April last year, the Bulle Rock development corporation, MTBR LLC, notified residents of the neighboring community of the same name that the golf course and the undeveloped land surrounding it were for sale.

Richard Alter, president and CEO of Manekin LLC, the master developer of the community, said at the time that the golf course, a public course which has historically been ranked among the region’s best since its opening in 1998, would remain open through the 2017 season, but its future beyond then was uncertain, if it was not sold.

Alter cited both the uncertain economy and the lack of support from the city on a request for tax relief. The latter claim was disputed by Havre de Grace city officials.

The club re-opened this year on Jan. 10, according to its website, www.bullerockgolf.com.

The 2018 rates will be market adjusted to “what will make every person with a set of golf clubs from New York to North Carolina happy,” Klepczynski said.

Memberships will also be available, he said.

In a letter updating residents on the course management, MTBR Golf says the course is still for sale.

“As you are most likely aware, MTBR Golf LLC has been searching for suitable new owners for Bulle Rock’s golf facility and remaining land development. The quality of the property has produced many interested individuals and buying groups,” the letter says. “We have carefully considered every potential offer with a focus on the future prosperity of the collective property and have yet to settle with a firm that is the right fit.”

While MTBR Golf looks for a buyer, Klepczynski takes over the course’s operations.

He is a 20-year PGA member “and comes with a laundry list of credentials in the fields of facility management and technology development,” according to the letter.

Good for Havre de Grace

Havre de Grace Mayor William T. Martin said he’s happy the course re-opened this year.

“It’s definitely our desire to have the golf course in full service and functioning for the public,” Martin said. “It’s good for the city, it brings people to the city and it’s good for the vitality of the Bulle Rock community.”

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A fully functioning and vibrant golf course will certainly help draw people to the residential community, where another 1,000 houses are still expected to be built, Martin said. Approximately 1,125 houses have been built, the owner said last year.

“So it’s better to keep the golf course open than close it,” Martin said.

One of the city’s priorities is, and always has been, the successful development of Bulle Rock, Martin said.

“Common sense says as long as the golf course is open, it would definitely promote the development of Bulle Rock,” he said.

Were the golf course to close, the city could lose tens of thousands of dollars a year it only recently started collecting in admissions and amusements taxes, the mayor said.

When the golf course opened, it was exempt from the tax, and its owners tried to continue the exemption when it expired, Martin said.

After several years of back and forth, owners paid the city $240,000 in January for three years worth of Admission and Amusement tax, which Martin has proposed in the city’s next budget be dedicated to public safety — the Susquehanna Hose Company, the Havre de Grace Ambulance Corps and the Havre de Grace Police Department.

The estimate for the tax in fiscal year 2019 is expected to be about $80,000, which the city wouldn’t receive, if the golf course weren’t open.

Not only would the tax revenue be lost, but also it would make it more of a challenge to fully develop the residential part, Martin said.

For now, the city will continue to work with the homeowners association and “help good things come in the direction of Bulle Rock,” he said.

“Our biggest goal is the vitality of the community,” Martin said.

Bulle Rock was designed by internationally renowned golf course architect Pete Dye.

The course was laid out on the former Blenheim Farm and named for a thoroughbred horse brought to the American colonies from England in about 1730 that became a foundation sire of the breed in America.

The golf course was built by Edward Abel, a Pennsylvania developer, who persuaded the city to annex the course and surrounding land, then undeveloped.

The current owner acquired the course and surrounding residential development site in the early 2000s, initially through a partnership with Harford-based developer Clark Turner.

The public course has a history of being top-ranked in Maryland and nationally by major golf publications. Bulle Rock hosted the former McDonald’s LPGA Championship from 2005 through 2009.

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