WINFIELD TOWNSHIP— Golfers, club members, family and friends gathered Sunday for a thank you buffet from the owners of Birchwood Golf Course.
“This post is to make it official that the rumors that have been floating around that Birchwood Golf Course is being sold are indeed true,” stated Birchwood’s Facebook page on Oct. 3. “The agreement with Sandyland Farms was completed today. Members only until the last Sunday of October.”
For the last 31 years, Mark and Debbie Heath have owned and operated the course at 6900 Masters Road just outside of Howard City.
“We feel comfortable with our decision to sell the course to Sandyland Farms,” Mark Heath said. “They have been our neighbors and friends for a long time.”
Sandyland Farms is located at 13375 Deaner Road in Howard City. Farm officials declined comment about the sale.
The Heaths will keep their house and some acreage near the course, but the property will become farmland. The Heaths are staying quiet about their reasons for selling.
“Our reasons are private,” said Mark Heath. “Debbie’s multiple sclerosis is a factor, but not the reason we decided to sell.”
Debbie Heath was diagnosed with relapse remitting multiple sclerosis five years ago. She has used the golf course to raise awareness and funds through the Play “Fore” the Cure for Multiple Sclerosis (PMS) golf outing. The last outing raised more than $11,000.
“We were able to help so many families suffering with MS this year,” Debbie Heath said.
Her hope is to continue the fundraiser at another golf course.
“Debbie will still try to have the outing in the future,” Mark Heath said.
A nostalgic mood was in the room Sunday as guest shared memories while enjoying food provided by the Heaths. Vince Panicci of Morley, who finished golfing earlier in the day, enjoyed the camaraderie and memories of golfing with friend Gale Smyth of Coral.
“I have golfed this course for more than 20 years,” Panicci said. “It is the only course I got a hole in one at and I have golfed a lot of courses.”
Smyth, a longtime golfer at Birchwood, will miss the course.
“I started golfing here shortly after they added the new nine,” Smyth said. “I believe in 1969 I started playing. Sure going to miss it here, but I understand their choice to sell.”
The Heaths are thankful for the 31 years they had at Birchwood.
“My kids grew up here,” Debbie Heath said. “I was 21 when we moved here and we are thankful for all the families who have grown up golfing on this course. It was a hard thing to do, but we had to do what was best for us.”