Jim Cullis Pulls Out of Matanzas Golf Course Sale

Matanzas residents are back to square one, between a rock and a hard place. A small but vocal minority would settle for nothing less than a rehabbed golf course, but that’s not likely to happen.

Palm Coast, FL – December 30, 2013 – At the end of the due diligence period, Jim Cullis, head of Grand Haven Realty, has pulled out of a contract to purchase the closed Matanzas Woods golf course. When the contract was signed, Cullis told GoToby.com that buy-in from local residents would be needed before he would move forward with his plan to combine new residential construction with a linear park on the site. That buy-in didn’t happen.

While several residents understand that the probable $5 million price tag to rehab the course and build a new clubhouse was economically prohibitive, a vocal minority is unwilling to consider anything less than a rebuilt golf course.

Cullis had hoped that Matanzas residents would coalesce around a plan to combine 100 to 150 residential housing units with a linear park which would essentially follow the layout of the closed golf course. This plan would have assured that those who once had golf course views would have park views. Plus, the northeast section of Palm Coast would get a new park.

Matanzas golf course  in Palm Coast, FL 18th hole Matanzas, once the jewel of local golf courses, was a victim of bad timing. It had been closed for major redesign and reconstruction when the real estate bubble burst. When the music stopped, this golfing gem’s chair was gone. The only aspects of the course still salvageable are grading and contouring. Everything else must be constructed from scratch. The overbuilt golf industry continues to reinvent itself to adjust to changing demographics. No long term solutions are in sight. Matanzas will probably not be rebuilt in my lifetime.

Those who insist on a rebuilt Matanzas golf course are not being realistic. Neither fervent wishing nor political pressure can force an owner to build a golf course on the site. Meanwhile, their obstructionism will negatively affect their property values and those of their neighbors.

19 replies
  1. Paul Martini
    Paul Martini says:


    I absolutely agree with the people who do not want to give in. The present owners should re-open the golf course as promised to the membership in the beginning.

  2. Ken
    Ken says:


    While your overview is basically correct, you barely hide your bias in favor or the developer. The people who purchased a lot(s) or a home(s) based on the existence of an active golf course paid a premium for that right. Even up to and during the recession before the course closed memberships were being sold at a premium on the promise of Matanzas being the crown jewel of the three (Pine Lakes and Cypress Knolls). Now another promise. A nice view. Those on the course already have a nice view. What would change other than a permanent closing? Given the choice, the vocal minority is correct. They have their skin in the game have seen their property values plummet at an even higher % because of the course closure. This is simply a money making venture for someone familiar with the property, not a savior or even worthwhile opportunity. And you push the plan why? Because you do not have a vested interest. Your interest in it is impersonal and on seeing an overall improvement of the local RE landscape, not a personal one like so many others. No offense Toby but to say in your lifetime you will not see an improvement of Matanzas does not create sympathy, it only makes me wonder how old you are. As a person who owns at Matanzas, I’d rather see it sit, and deal with what is, than accept a deal that would permanently change the course with zero hope of it being a golf course ever again. After all the hits the local
    RE market has taken, with Matanzas owners simply having to absorb the combined hits why would anyone in Matanzas Woods when finally able to have a a say….choose to remove the golf course forever, no matter how small the odds of it coming back.

  3. Toby
    Toby says:

    Response to Ken and Paul

    I understand both of your arguments and I also understand your angst. Matanzas Woods residents and Grand Club members were dealt a bad hand. I’m a former Grand Club member who walked away from a $2,500 “refundable” membership deposit when the Club was still owned by Landmar. I knew that if I put my name on “the waiting list,” I would end up spending more than $2,500 in ongoing membership fees while I waited for my name to come to the top of the refund list. I would have wished for a different outcome, but I thought that I chose the best available option at the time. I don’t regret the decision.

    To Paul: There is no resolution that would satisfy your desire. The law does not provide a way to force a property owner to do build something that is uneconomically feasible or practical except eminent domain. The city could take the property by eminent domain (but would have to pay for it), and then reconstruct the course. How much taxpayer support do you think that solution would generate?

    To Ken: I respect your comments. Our difference is one of perspective, not fact. You presumably live on the course and I do not. You have an emotional investment. My view is one of pragmatism. I don’t have a dog in the hunt. I’m neither promoting Jim Cullis nor developers in general. I simply believe, backed by some degree of experience, that the chance of a golf course ever emerging at the Matanzas site is slim. The current Grand Club owner, in spite of past promises, is not in any position to move forward with reconstruction. They may not be able to continue the present level of maintenance going forward. At my age, (I’m 70 years old), I would go for the best plan B because I believe the city would approve a plan similar to Cullis’s and my property values would be protected as much as possible.

  4. ray douglass
    ray douglass says:


    I would have to respectfully comment that the above article is very biased toward the developer. Toby, you have to understand that people did not come to the neighborhood to have sprawl in their backyards, they came here for a golf course community. If you had been at the meetings, you would have seen for yourself that it was not a small but vocal group, it was a very large group and close to unanimous in favor of rehabbing the course. The only people in favor of development were the local realtors. As far as a park, there are already over 24 acres set aside for a park in the neighborhood. A canoe/kayak trail? There is already one up the road at Faver-Dykes on an estuary. Hundreds of residents have signed a petition in favor of saving the course. We live here, let us decide, we can handle it ourselves over the next few months and years.

  5. Ray
    Ray says:

    Slight disagreement

    Unfortunately the best course of the 3 fell victim to the real estate bust. I wish it hadn’t been that one, but I’m sure the residents around Pine Lakes and Cypress Knoll are glad it wasn’t their course that fell victim. The unfortunate realism with this issue is Palm Coast golfers can barely support the 4 local public courses they have access to now, so you’d be hard pressed to find anyone willing to stick their neck out and pay to rehab Matanzas to take a chance on their money going down the drain. The City most likely doesn’t favor another course either since it would only compete with Palm Harborand cut into their possible future profit. But hopefully down the road with more residents and more golfers moving into the area, someone will take a chance.

  6. Brad
    Brad says:

    Great Points & Right On

    You are dead on with this one Toby, and thank you for your perspective. I think it’s easy for so many to place misguided labels on people (i.e. “developer” is “bad” which is silly) and very easy to jump to conclusions no matter how delusional they are. The weeks since this conversation began and up to to now have been a shining example of just that.

    I will continue to stand by the fact that this was a real opportunity that would have benefited homeowners in Matanzas Woods and restored our values. Unlike many of those with their “skin in the game” we built prior to the closure, actually did pay more, and actually did lose a great deal of our money on the closure. So, no, I would not like to continue to see a deteriorating overgrown mess in my back yard holding back my value waiting for something that will not happen in many of our lifetimes.

    It is sad mostly. Not so much that course is closed and that situation; but the sheer unreasonableness and the actions by some for purely self-serving reasons without any real consideration for their neighbors, facts, and the real future of our neighborhood. I have 2 grand children who we would like to be able to leave them something. But I’m also of the generation that has to 100% find our own way to retirement (if even possible). Our homes and protecting the values are a big part of that, but here I (and my neighbors that truly lost) are held hostage once again by poor decisions and actions of those who think only of themselves and no one else. And the truth is that as a neighborhood, we don’t need to be held hostage or allow anyone to ever mislead us with false information and/or scare tactics, because we can simply choose to act with maturity and seek the facts to make educated and smart decisions.

    The truth is that a group that labels itself as “saving” something, has saved nothing at all. And actually they have now opened the door wide to losing that which they misled others into thinking they were “saving”. Leave an unusable golf course as the mess it is at the cost of an entire neighborhood. And do so when you could actually restore the neighborhood and protect the property. Yeah, that somehow makes sense.

    Thanks again.

  7. Robert McKenna
    Robert McKenna says:

    Mantanzas Woods golf course

    Here are the Facts, in 2006 Jim Cullis presented plans to Build on the Golf Course, several years later he re-appears with the same plans, there was never any intention to re-open the course, the City of Palm Coast has let the owners leave the Course in horrible condition, no one wants the course re-opened because of the competition, no one cares about Mantanzas Woods residents and what is Best for our community, the high prices paid to live in a Golf Course community is falling on Deaf ears, the city is going to do what the City wants, NOT what is best for Mantanzas Woods, and the so called price of $5 million is way out of line, Professionals have looked the course over and numbers can be made to look like anyone wants, however we have found out the cost is very reasonable to get the course up and running, we hear to many courses in the area, most are Private, Mantanzas Woods Course has a Championship layout which will take play away from the 3 public courses, the owners don’t want that, I can assure you if the Manager lived in Mantanzas Woods, the Course would be open, politics and money are very hard to beat, its time the City of Palm Coast do the right thing just once and do what is best for homeowners, how can you let hundreds of people buy into a Golf Course Community and then take it away so Builders can profit? Cullis pulled out because he heard the voice of the people, now its time to take it to the next level, however after talking to several hundred residents, most are sad to see this happen to what once was a Great Community, and most say the city will do what they want, many feel the politicians are not concerned about Mantanzas Woods Community, the condition of the course proves just that, they are not enforcing the codes to the owners to maintain what they purchased, once again, Politics, How can they take away a Golf Course Community when residents paid premiums to live here, the answer is clear, they just don’t care, what they do care about is making $$$ and keeping businessmen happy regardless of who pays the price, as I have always said, WHO WILL PROFIT ? You will also hear because of the economy, prices, yes we have all taken a loss on values, however Mantanzas Woods residents have taken a much bigger loss because the Golf Course was never re-opened, so sad to see our entire government be so corrupt, that’s what is wrong with our country and will stay that way until the people say enough is enough.

  8. Ken Long
    Ken Long says:

    Points made by R McKenna, others against developer

    I completely agree with Mr. McKenna and others who had enough of others telling us as property owners at Matanzas Woods what is best for us. I built before the closure and before the recession. I have seen my properties value drop by 66% (appraised in late 2005 for $394,000 and in 2012 appraised for $130,000). I have paid the extra property taxes related to the location of being on the golf course. I heard the promises of the third course renovation (Matanzas)being saved for last because it would be the ‘crown jewel.’ Mr. McKenna, is right. Follow the money. The developer, the city do not care that the people who bought and built there 8, 10, 12 years ago or more, and did so for a golf community, not a park. They do not care about the losses we have incurred. They point to pragmatism. A real estate agent and developers idea of pragmatism is, ‘I don’t care about your loss, I’m here to make money’. Mix in politics and you have a real problem.

    From the City of Palm Coast, Park & Recreation web site: “Palm Coast is a City of parks and trails – with 13 magnificent public parks offering a variety of recreational opportunities and the beauty of natural Florida. We invite you to explore our parks!” This does not include the planned Linear Park. How many parks does this City need and is the park idea not just simply a convenient out. And the idea of creating more housing permanently alters the landscape, neighborhood and golf course, with no recourse, no refund, nothing. What other neighborhood in Palm Coast is being asked to give up their golf course, their salt water canal, their fresh water canal…whatever the locations amenity is. I’ll answer that for you, none. I personally am glad the developer backed out. His intentions were not to fix what is broken to but turn it into a money making bandaid. I wonder if Toby went back a few years to his posts about the local golf course that was taken over by the city, what his comments were. I bet he supported the takeover and investment by the city and that was DURING the recession. Interesting that the city does not see the same solution for Matanzas AFTER the recession has ended. It’s true that Palm Coast still struggles. However, why ask one neighborhood to alter it’s landscape permanently when other neighborhoods have not had to, or have been saved. It’s asking Matanzas Woods residents to pay an inordinate price….one they have already paid.

  9. Junior Alan
    Junior Alan says:


    I would like to hear Mr. McKenna’s reasoning that $5 million is an inflated number. Who are the industry professionals you have spoken with? I am familiar with the dollars that go into reconstructing of a golf course and can share if you like…you may find that $5 million is actually a low number!

  10. Toby
    Toby says:

    Reply to Robert McKenna

    Reply to Robert McKenna
    Your comment that ‘’Mantanzas Woods residents have taken a much bigger loss because the Golf Course was never re-opened,’’ prompted me to dig deeper. You might be surprised, as I was, that from 2006, the peak price year, to 2013 Matanzas outperformed every other area in Palm Coast. Matanzas per square foot prices dropped 38.4% over that period. Other Palm Coast communities did not perform as well. All dropped by more than 40%:

    Belle Terre – 46.0%
    Cypress Knolls – 40%
    Indian Trails – 42.5%
    Lehigh Woods – 43.7%
    Palm Harbor – 42.5%
    Pine Grove – 42.6%
    Pine Lakes – 41.5%
    Quail Hollow – 42.7%
    Seminole Woods – 41.5%

  11. Ken
    Ken says:

    Quote from Toby

    Quote from Toby regarding those against a developer permanently removing Mantanzas Woods golf course. “….Meanwhile, their obstructionism will negatively affect their property values and those of their neighbors.”

    My house is directly on Matanzas Woods closed golf course. I have seen an appraised loss of $264,000 (much higher than 38%) through recession, golf club closure, foreclosures, etc. and Toby is scolding people like me about potential further loss because we (I) reject an option that permanently closes the course. We should accept Matanzas Woods golf club/course is gone forever for what? A view that I already have? The only people that make out are the developer and realtors.

    Again Toby, if you would, please look back to your comments from 2006 regarding Palm Harbor. No problem with saving that course. Now the one course considered the best of all the public courses is hung out to dry? By the city. By the developers. By you. I remember having a debate about the timliness of the Matanzas rehab with a resident of Cypress Knoll. Stop complaining he said. When they are done, it will be the best of the three. Still waiting.

  12. A.P.
    A.P. says:

    Across The Pond View From Edinburgh

    I have been following the discussion regarding the possible dissolution of The Matanzas Woods Golf Course property with some dismay.
    As I own two lots overlooking the decaying golf clubhouse, I am rather concerned about any proposed altering of the golf course’s integrity.
    As a practising solicitor for many years, I can state with a good degree of assurance that the documents describing covenants and easements as regards The Matanzas Woods Golf Course are forthrightly stated and cannot legally be compromised or misinterpreted.
    I point to the pertinent mention of “unobstructed view” and the even more telling phrase “in perpetuity.”
    I plan to make the trip across the pond within the next two weeks. If any persons reading the commentary associated with this subject of change to the golf course property would care to join me in a discussion of legal means that can be employed to assure the continued
    integrity of the golf course land, please respond on this site.
    For those of you in agreement with my here, stated viewpoint, let me also assure you that the subject of capital infusion to assist in the purchase and refurbishing of The Matanzas Woods Golf Course is currently being pursued.

    Stiff upper lip and all that! The British will be coming to assist you Yanks with this project!

  13. Brad
    Brad says:

    Setting The Record Straight

    It has been very apparent through this process (and especially reading through the comments here) that there is a great deal of misinformation circulating about this matter. Why this has happened is really without any logical reason. But rather continue with made up junk, let’s look at facts:

    1. “Closing the golf course for good” – Actually, the proposal to donate the land to the City with a plan to use as a park would protect the land to be a golf course later while helping to restore values now. The reality is that someone has to come with the investment to reopen it which they have not. And those who insist they will “save the course” and reopen it, show us the money and reopen it.

    2. Building homes on the course has NEVER been in any plan presented to us. This is pure fiction made up by a few residents who insist there exists some conspiracy plot against the neighborhood. The truth is that homes were always planned at the end of Lakeview where it meets London. A simple permit search shows this along with LandMar’s original plans for “Grand Woods” to improve the Clubhouse. It is absurd to think anyone would even want to build homes on the course. Who would want to buy them? It would be a mess. And the accusation that anyone “wants” (or needs) that land for development is silly. There are 6 large parcels for development in Matanzas Woods and plenty of other land in Palm Coast. Likewise, that land is a developer’s nightmare to try and build anything that any buyer would want to buy. Get real.

    3. No one has ever proposed rezoning the property. Again, this is pure fiction made up by a few people who again insist there must be some conspiracy.

    4. This “who will profit” business is ridiculous. I’ll tell you WHO WILL NOT PROFIT by waiting for some mythical investor to come and reopen the course, homeowners like me who have lost a great deal of value. I’m not talking about owners who bought foreclosure properties or bought low after the closure on and off the course who have profited regardless. I’m talking about owners such as myself who built prior to closure and are seeing our values held back even more today in a recovering market. This business of fictional conspiracies is pure ridiculousness and immature absurdities. This was a unique opportunity that is gone because of pure closed-mindedness.

    5. The supposed “hundreds of signatures” acquired by telling others the misinformation above is far from credible. When you have disabled neighbors being told to sign because “low-income housing is being built on the course” and the fact that the same regurgitated false statements keep being made while actively spreading lies about those who have a different opinion or perspective makes it obvious those signatures were not gained through honest dialogue. Likewise, there are about 2500 properties in Matanzas Woods and “hundreds” is far from a “majority” or even “unanimous” on any matter.

    6. Palm Harbor was a lesson learned of what the City should NOT do in Matanzas Woods. The City is losing a great deal of tax dollars on Palm Harbor and should not be sacrificing more valuable tax dollars to become business owners in another course. To suggest the City is responsible to reopen the course is absurd. Should the City take on the burden to reopen every failed business in Palm Coast?

    The truth is that we are victims in Matanzas Woods, but not because of anything a developer has come to do in this case. We are victims of self-serving misguided neighbors who have actively chosen not to listen. Many keep mentioning value loss but really don’t want to talk about solutions to that. They simply want to live within the problem and inflict further damage simply for spite-sake which is just absurd.

  14. Ken
    Ken says:

    Really Brad

    OK Brad. Since you want to come off as the authority by stating the ‘facts’ on this subject how about another perspective.

    Closing the golf course for good. You are saying that by donating (deeding) the golf course to the City, in which they become owner of the course and convert it to a park, that it would keep alive the hope that the golf course could potentially be reopened at a later date by ‘protecting the land’. Give it to the City, let them turn it into a park, responsible for it’s upkeep and they will do right by the owners in Matanzas Woods. The same City that in your 6th point you say made a mistake in taking over Palm Harbor. The course that you say is a money losing golf course. Using Palm Harbor as an example the City would never convert Matanzas back to a golf course. Ever. Park it becomes, park it would remain. ANY chance of a rehabbed golf course down the road would mean the City selling the park to an invester. A ‘Mythical Investor’ (your point #4). With a City strapped for cash what is the likely eventual scenario should Jim Cullis get his way. No golf course, a park, more housing in a neighborhood still battling a recession hangover and if the prospect of an interested developer/land conversion came up down the road for the ‘Park’ regarding a rehabbed course, it’s the City who decides. A city that wants another golf course in Palm Coast competing with a money losing Palm Harbor like it wants another tornado.

    BTW, built on the golf course in 2004, before closure and recession, paid the premium to be on the golf course, lost value just like you. You think by becoming a park, your properties value will go up? It’s already a park. The only thing missing is handing it to the city for free from Cullis and the shenanigans could develop should that ever transpire.

  15. Brad
    Brad says:

    Yes, Ken

    Yes, we all have perspectives and opinions. Let me explain mine further so hopefully you understand since you have questions about my perspective and opinions.

    1. “Protecting the property” by, yes, deeding it over to the City. Deeding the property over to the City doesn’t “close the door” on the property not ever being a golf course again. As you stated, yes, an investor coming later to purchase and convert the property back (especially if the contour is left) back and reopening the course is a possibility. In the meantime, the property is kept in a far better state that contains the qualities that contribute to property value . . . view, privacy, and closeness to activity. And with the property owned by the City, it is far less likely that the property would ever be rezoned and built on. Likewise, the property is NOT “a park” now. It is a privately owned piece of land which is deteriorating a great deal and is actually pretty dangerous in several spots (i.e. bridges and cart paths falling) for anyone to be out on (which is also trespassing). It is not in a condition or state that provides any amenity to incoming buyers making properties on the course less attractive to comparable neighborhoods such as Pine Lakes and Cypress Knoll which both had a higher number of home sales last year. The thing that makes our neighborhood somewhat attractive now is the closeness to schools and the possibility of that golf course property providing some amenity at some point in the future. But in all honesty, at this point buyers know it has been closed for several years are not willing to pay more for “possibilities” when they could simply own in either of the other two neighborhoods for a slight bit more.

    2. A City maintained Park is NOT the same situation as a City run golf business. I understand why the City made the decision on Palm Harbor and it was “the lesser of 2 evils” in that situation, but it is not the responsibility of any government to be business owners and “float businesses” that fail. The fact is that Palm Harbor Golf Course has lost money and to the tune of a $100,000 deficit recently. It’s safe to say that the City Council would be more than open to a responsible investor seeking to acquire and take over the operations of that course. The truth is that no buyer has come forth to actually open the Matanzas Woods Course or Palm Harbor privately, and it is pretty safe to say that one is not coming any time soon. All golf industry statistics and basic economics point to that same conclusion. To think the City should finance another golf business which will undoubtedly only be an expense of valuable tax dollars even more is irresponsible in my opinion. I’m sorry, but I don’t agree that the City would not be welcoming to the possibility of selling either property to a responsible owner in the future.

    3. Do I think a park will increase my value? Yes. It’s the difference between having a vacant overgrown mess of a lot next door compared to a lot that is well maintained with activities for residents. The vacant overgrown lot is less attractive to a home buyer which inevitably drives values down. The latter type of lot beautifies the neighborhood and is far more attractive and desirable for a home buyer which increases value. A park contains the same qualities which tends to drive value in a golf course home . . . nice view and privacy (no homes built behind). And it would make our neighborhood competitive to the other neighborhoods in Palm Coast.

    4. “More housing”. First of all, there are already a couple hundred buildable lots in Matanzas Woods and they will be built on in the future. Population is increasing and will continue to increase in the area. 2 homes are already being built on London Drive if you haven’t noticed, and 2 built on my street in just the last year and a half. More will be built too as the the number of homes for sale in Flagler County has dropped by about 50% with demand increasing each year for the last few years. The homes Mr. Cullis was speaking of building would have been in years to come in the northeast corner off of Lakeview (out of the way) to recoup the money he was putting out to purchase the property to begin with. Secondly, what is even more interesting is what our community will do with the 5-6 large multi-family zoned parcels that are presently owned by developers and can build on them. I’m not saying that I am in favor of large builds like this and would like to see plans prior. But the reality is those conditions exist and those owners do have a right to build within the code of the City on the land they own in our neighborhood.

    I am all for the course reopening as I’ve said on numerous occasions, but like you have seen no one is doing that. What I am not for is giving into fear, simply living within the problem when there is a solution being offered, and shutting the door on opportunity simply because it is different. Because when you do line the facts up, that course situation is not changing any time soon and our values will continue to decline and be held back unnecessarily in a recovering market because it’s far from being a golf course now. I don’t claim to be an “authority”, but I do have an opinion as an owner since 2004 as well, and there has been a great deal of misinformation circulating. But at this point, it is a mute point isn’t it? The opportunity is gone and I doubt if anyone will be coming with any similar offer that would actually benefit our neighborhood.


    Bought to build for retirement

    My wife and I bought in Matanzas on the golf course to retire. I am 56 and we were looking at when I turn 60 to build on our property and live there. We thought we would get our privacy in a great community with the golf course at our back. Now we have big second thoughts. We might buy on a canal instead. If we can help in the fight we would love to. We presently live in Conn. We bought that land in 1999.

    Thanks Rich and Kim

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