Plans for a long-delayed golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus in Jessamine County were resurrected with Monday's announcement that a new development company has engaged the legendary golfer to bring a 450-acre course to Wilmore.
The new development company, Legacy Point Capital, said it had engaged Nicklaus Design to bring a "Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course" to the Bluegrass. The project will be named Legacy Point.
Nicklaus visited the site off U.S. 68 and Murphy Lane in 2006. "We'll get a very good golf course on this piece of property," he said at the time.
"Our team is focused on several objectives," Nicklaus said in a release Monday. "I look forward to returning to the site soon to begin the design process, as we hope to create an exceptional golf experience, wrapped within this beautiful site and its natural surroundings.
"Legacy Point will have a strong emphasis on family and community, and our goal is to create a golf course that will not only be playable for all levels of golfers and all ages, but a source of great pride for the city of Wilmore and the Lexington community. With the site we have been given, there is enormous potential to create something unique and special."
The only other course in Kentucky that Nicklaus designed is Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, which opened in June 1986. Valhalla has been the host for three PGA Championships, the Ryder Cup in 2008, and two Senior PGA Championships.
The announcement Monday came 10 years after another development company, Kelley Properties LLC, announced it was bringing a course designed by Nicklaus to Jessamine County.
That proposal, which featured a luxury residential community, was to be called Forest Creek. Wilmore City Council annexed the property in 2006, but the project never came to fruition because of prolonged litigation.
That litigation has been resolved, clearing the way for Legacy Point Capital to resurrect the project, Wilmore Mayor Harold Rainwater said.
Legacy Point's partners are John Loudon and Byron Holley. Legacy Point Capital is an investment banking and advisory firm focused on providing financial engineering services.
"We couldn't be more excited to partner with the legendary Jack Nicklaus and his golf course design company," Loudon and Holley said in a joint statement.
"Our vision is to create a wonderful golf course through a sustainable design that embraces the environment, our members, services and amenities, and especially the surrounding community," their statement said.
Rainwater said he met with representatives of Legacy Point last week at city hall.
The redesigned project, which is within Wilmore's city limits, will have fewer residential units and more golf course, Rainwater said. He said that's fine with him because bigger "higher-end" lots will mean more property taxes for the city of more than 6,000 residents.
That's important for Wilmore, where much of the property in the city limits — such as Asbury University, Asbury Theological Seminary and 13 churches — are affiliated with religious denominations and are tax-exempt.
While Legacy Point will be a private club, Rainwater said he was told that "at least one day a week it would be open as a public course."
He said the redesigned project will need approval from the Jessamine County-City of Wilmore Joint Planning Commission.
But after 10 years of waiting, Rainwater said, he thinks the course will become a reality.
"I won't breathe a sigh of relief. but I think we're closer to having this project completed than we've ever been," Rainwater said.
Nicknamed the "Golden Bear," Nicklaus, 75, won six Masters, five PGA championships, four U.S. Opens, and three British Opens.
Nicklaus Design, recognized as the world leader in golf course design, has created almost 400 courses worldwide, open for play in 39 states and 41 countries. Of those, Jack Nicklaus has designed, co-designed or re-designed more than 290 courses around the globe, and close to 100 have been ranked in various national or international Top 100 lists.