Despite filing for bankruptcy Monday, the principal owner of The Bull at Pinehurst Farms said Tuesday that the current ownership group is working to find new investors and purchase the financially troubled golf course before the 2020 season.
The filing by Bull Development LLC brought an automatic stay to a scheduled sheriff’s auction of the course, which had been set for Tuesday morning in Sheboygan. The sale had been set after a foreclosure judgment had been entered in October. According to court records, owners of The Bull were in default to Wisconsin Bank and Trust for loans totaling more than $4.2 million.
In a statement released by his lawyer late Tuesday, owner David Bachmann Jr. said the ownership group had been working for more than a year to put together a financing plan but have been unable to find an option that was acceptable to the bank. He said the current owners “along with others” are in the process of putting together a new plan but were unable to get it done before the foreclosure and sale were scheduled.
Bachmann attributed the bankruptcy filing to a general downturn in the sport and hospitality industry, “the inability to charge sufficient fees to cover escalating expenses, and consecutive bad years of weather.”
“We simply could not generate the revenues needed to cover all debt and expenses the last few years,” Bachmann said.
Whether the delay of the sale will be enough for Bachmann’s group to succeed is unclear. Richard Hahn, the bank’s lawyer, said the bank’s likely recourse would be to file a motion to lift the automatic stay so that the bank could continue its recovery efforts and a new date for the sheriff’s sale could be set.
“I really don’t understand the motivation of this filing other than that they wanted to hold off on the sheriff’s sale,” Hahn said. “I think the motivation may not be any different than delay at this point."
Bachman’s statement indicated that after the loan became due and foreclosure proceedings began, The Bull did not sell memberships or golf programs for the 2020 season. He said owners continued to fund obligations as necessary for events before the bankruptcy filing.
The Bull at Pinehurst Farms, named for the longtime cattle breeding business that had operated on the site in Sheboygan Falls, opened in 2003. It was the first Jack Nicklaus signature course built in the state and enjoyed a reputation for quality golf in a scenic setting. The golf course is adjacent to the two courses at Kohler’s Blackwolf Run and was set on 400 acres of land that included thick woods, wetlands and Onion River frontage. The Bull has hosted a number of high-level state tournaments and found a place on numerous best golf course lists but never got the same attention given to the neighboring courses at Kohler.
Despite its setting, the course has struggled at times throughout its existence. Bachmann staved off foreclosure in 2011 and managed to retain ownership.