Orange County's Willowick Golf Course could be turned into a park

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BySid Garcia via KABC logo
Wednesday, October 21, 2015
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Willowick Golf Course in Santa Ana is owned by the city of Garden Grove. But Santa Ana needs more park space.

SANTA ANA, Calif. (KABC) -- It's a popular spot for local golfers, but Willowick Golf Course could soon become a part of Orange County history. The city of Santa Ana wants to turn the property into a park.

"That would be a shame," said Ron Ryan of Long Beach. "To lose this course would really be a shame for a lot of us who come here regularly. It would be a major loss."

"It's still a good service to the community for recreation as a golf course," said John Elwell of Anaheim.

Willowick opened in 1928 and has seen everyone from a young Tiger Woods to former Rams players grace its greens. It costs just $26 to play on a weekday and $40 on the weekends.

"The history of it, too, it would be a shame to lose it. There's a lot of parks around," said Ray Pilling of Orange.

Santa Ana Mayor Pro Tem Vince Sarmienta says that's not the case. He says the city needs more park space. He's planning to enter talks with Garden Grove, which owns the course now, to discuss what to do with 100-plus acres of real estate.

"Right now, we just want to open dialogues with our friends in Garden Grove," said Sarmienta. "They're working with us on a street car. We have a very mutually amicable relationship between the two cities, and we just think Willowick is another asset that's not performing as well as both cities would like to see."

One report estimates the course is worth $200 million. The Santa Ana city manager has been put in charge of looking into a purchase. In one scenario, the money would come from a bond measure, reserves and a surplus in the general fund.

The idea city staff will come up with will be presented to the full city council during their meeting on Nov. 3.

This is all preliminary. The city has to figure out if indeed it's worth its while to purchase this land.