A new date has been set for a sheriff’s auction of The Bull at Pinehurst Farms, the financially troubled Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course in Sheboygan Falls.
The sale, scheduled for June 23 at 10 a.m. at the Sheboygan County Administration Building, comes more than four months after an earlier sheriff’s sale was averted at the last minute when the course’s previous owners filed for bankruptcy.
Since then, a court-appointed bankruptcy trustee has been attempting to find a buyer for the course, which opened in 2003 to favorable reviews but has long struggled to remain solvent. The Bull’s principal owner, David Bachmann Jr., managed to stave off foreclosure in 2011 but in October 2019 another foreclosure judgement showed the course’s owners were in default to Wisconsin Bank and Trust for loans totaling more than $4.2 million.
In March, Milwaukee businessman Scott Molitor’s offer to buy The Bull for $3.1 million was approved by the bank and appeared to be the lifeline the golf course needed. However, after weeks of conducting due diligence on the property Molitor abruptly withdrew the offer shortly before it was to have been presented to a bankruptcy judge, a move that surprised all parties and again left The Bull with an uncertain future.
Due to the coronavirus, Wisconsin had put in place a moratorium on mortgage foreclosures. The moratorium ended Tuesday, and the bank moved quickly on Wednesday to schedule a new auction date.
Sheboygan attorney Richard Hahn, representing Wisconsin Bank and Trust, said Thursday he expects the trustee, Virginia George, would continue to communicate with potential buyers, should there be any, until the auction takes place. However, months of effort to find a buyer produced only one acceptable offer, and that was withdrawn at nearly the last minute.
Typically at a sheriff’s auction the bank would make an initial bid and “if anyone goes over that, that’s great,” Hahn said. Whether that will happen in this case is anyone’s guess.
“I don’t know if I have confidence or not,” Hahn said. “I at least know if there’s an auction people can show up and make a bid” without going through lengthy negotiations. Whether any bidder will come up with an offer acceptable to the bank is another question.
The golf course, which got its name because it was built on the site of a longtime cattle breeding business, has been closed while legal proceedings have crawled on. Hahn said the bank has retained a maintenance company that is mowing grass and otherwise maintaining the course, which is adjacent to the two celebrated courses at Kohler’s Blackwolf Run on 400 acres of land that feature thick woods, wetlands and Onion River frontage.
Hahn, who admits to not being a golfer, called the struggle to find a new owner “interesting and unfortunate."
“I think it’s a really interesting and nice golf course,” he said, adding that its reputation as a difficult layout may be one impediment to making it successful.
George, the trustee, was not immediately available to comment on whether any interested parties were looking at The Bull. At a recent bankruptcy court hearing she had indicated that two groups had shown interest but that no written offers had been produced.