The Newaukum Valley Golf Course is under new ownership and could soon look much different than before.
Newaukum Ventures LLC purchased the golf course and associated properties in May from John Date at a cost of $3.125 million, according to the Lewis County Assessor’s Office. Date had listed the property for sale with Gary Fox of Century 21 Lund Realtors years ago, but new owner Joseph Enbody said he and co-owner Trevor Westlund didn’t begin to seriously pursue it until early this year.
The pair are focusing solely on learning the ropes of the business, which includes a bar and grill as well as an apartment complex, for at least the foreseeable future. They brought in Gerald Waring to revamp the restaurant and have put resources toward improving the condition of the 27-hole golf complex itself.
In the long run, Enbody said, there will be discussions about cutting at least nine holes out of the equation in favor of residential development. Enbody and Westlund submitted an application to the City of Chehalis on Feb. 10 seeking to discussion the idea of annexing some the property into the city’s urban growth boundary area. Fox submitted a petition on March 26 to amend the Chehalis Comprehensive Plan to include about 60 acres of golf course property in the UGA.
“It’s a big puzzle to solve, like a 1,000 piece puzzle, and I don’t even know where the pieces should go yet,” Enbody said. “I think there’s a lot of potential and a million different directions we could go. Let’s at least get our heads above water and see what we’ve got. We’re also going to be consulting with people who are way smarter about it — (Westlund) has knowledge I don’t have, and I have knowledge he doesn’t have, so together, we’re almost not idiots.”
Enbody later added that residential development made the most sense in his mind because of the ongoing housing shortage in Lewis County. He floated the idea of putting a development where the western-most nine holes are, though he’d like a hole or two to wind past some houses.
Conversations about amending the city comprehensive plan or urban growth boundary area often take years to complete. Enbody considers those to be “down the road, dreaming type of stuff,” and conceded outside factors like the strength of the economy and local job growth will play a large role.
“Try to find a good house for sale in this county,” Enbody said. “There aren’t a lot of places to build anymore. You’re either on a hill or in a flood zone. My philosophy would be that an A-grade 18 holes is better than a C-grade 27 holes, but if we want to still have 18 holes, we’d probably have to keep some on the west end and then lose holes to the south or the east.”
Patrons will notice changes to the restaurant more quickly than they will the golf course. Some, such as the reopening of the back bar area and expanded hours for beverage cart service, have already taken place.
Waring said that beginning in September, he plans to offer a dinner special every night and hopes to offer breakfast on the weekends in conjunction with football season. The space itself will undergo a remodel during the winter months.
“I feel that the back bar space is a place where people can stop in and have it be a quieter place to watch a game instead of being out in the open lobby area,” Waring said. “We’re also going to change up the menu, but right now it’s a little hectic with all of the banquet stuff we have going on. We’re also waiting on some new equipment.”
Enbody spoke highly of Waring, saying that he and Westlund have always looked to him for help with bar and restaurant related questions. He added that they had the plan to bring him on board before they even agreed to buy the course.
“The options are kind of infinite,” Enbody said. “The potential is out there. It’s all a work in progress, and I’m confident we’re in better shape now than we were 60 days ago when we took it over.”