New property owners announce future plans for Willow Creek golf course
By Abigail Walls
Sometimes, there’s a grove of trees or a lovely pond, maybe even a fountain—but rarely, if ever, will you find a farm in the midst of a golf course.
With the sale closed and the final ink dry, Stockbridge residents Justin and Laura Walsh announced on Facebook on Feb. 13 their plans to run their portion of the property formerly known as Willow Creek Golf Club, located at 3252 Heeney Rd, as an extension of their Icelandic sheep farm, called Jolly Jumbuck Farm.
“It may be the middle of winter but the farm is growing!” Laura Walsh wrote on her Facebook page. “The current plan is to use two acres or so for a sizable market garden and some crops (sweet corn? sunflowers? we’ll see), and I’m excited to have fresh produce available road-side and at a farm market or two this summer.”
The Walshes purchased three parcels at a November auction hosted by Schrader Real Estate and Auction Company. The entire former golf club was divided by Schrader into five parcels. The Walsh property contains the farmhouse, club house and “swing tract” adjoining it that totaled around six acres.
Laura Walsh said they will be making “some updates and renovations” to the 1890’s farmhouse on the property and will likely use it as a guesthouse. “But probably not in 2018,” she added.
Of the remainder of the property, Walsh indicated, “One of the outbuildings will become my studio for working with our sheep’s wool; another is a sizable workshop for equipment storage and maintenance, which will allow us a lot of flexibility for expanding our current farm plans.”
The sheep-farming couple hopes the property will provide value to both their farm and the Stockbridge community as a potential “agri-tourism” destination in future years. “But there is a lot to do before that is even on our radar,” Laura Walsh said.
The remaining parcels of Willow Creek, which included the lion’s share of the golf course, were also awarded at auction to Jim Eccleton of Jackson. Eccleton is the son of Marilyn Eccleton, the owner and operator of Willow Creek Golf Club for many years before selling the property to an investor.
Despite speculation in the local community that the property may continue to operate as a golf course, Jim Eccleton indicated he was unable to confirm specific plans at this time, and he hopes to work cooperatively with the Walshes’ plans.