Real Estate Firm Buys Wanderers Executive Course

The 48-acre Wanderers Club executive golf course has been purchased by a company affiliated with Ward Real Estate, according to Wellington officials and documents filed with the Palm Beach County Clerk.

The purchase took place late last year. According to a warranty deed filed with the county, W&W Equestrian Club LLC purchased the property on Oct. 30, 2015. The documents were recorded on Nov. 20. The company paid $1 million for the land, according to the deed document.

The address listed for the buyer is the same as Ward Real Estate, and village officials did confirm that Ward Real Estate’s Jim Ward is the new owner. The company has developed several commercial properties, including the new Village Green Center on State Road 7, which features a Trader Joe’s supermarket.

Not in use for several years, the Wanderers Club executive course land was previously owned by a company controlled by polo mogul John Goodman.

The main Wanderers Club par-72 golf course and the associated private country club with restaurants and other amenities was purchased last month by Mark Bellissimo and Wellington Equestrian Partners.

The Wellington Village Council looked into purchasing the executive course in 2014, but the idea was dropped after the previous owners refused the council’s offer of $700,000. Goodman’s company was asking $1 million.

Village Manager Paul Schofield said that there are a number of options Ward can pursue in developing the property without pursuing a land use change.

“It’s commercial recreation; there are some other things that they can do with it,” Schofield told the Town-Crier on Tuesday. “Principally golf course, they would have to go through and get a master plan amendment to the Landings at Wellington PUD to do anything like that. I know that we met with them and talked with them. They looked at some of the planning we had done back in 2010 or 2011 when we were looking at maybe acquiring it and doing a public park with an equestrian element. I don’t think they have made any decisions about it. I think they got it at a good price.”

Schofield said that the recent purchase of the main golf course and country club by another entity makes the transaction more interesting.

“Is it something that they will talk to mutually?” he said. “I suspect that they haven’t talked about it, but I’m willing to bet at some point that you will see complementary uses.”

Either way, the two owners of what previously was a single operation will have to work together in some fashion, Schofield said.

“You’ve got an executive golf course sold to one person and the other course sold to another person; they’ve always worked together in the past,” he said. “In some cases, because they both use the same drainage system, they are codependent, so it would be a good idea for them to talk to each other.”

In 2014, the council had discussed making the executive course a passive park. In a 3-2 vote, council members rejected a motion by Vice Mayor John Greene to make the seller an offer of $850,000 to purchase the executive course. Councilman Matt Willhite supported that motion, while Mayor Bob Margolis and council members Howard Coates and Anne Gerwig dissented. However, they approved a motion by Margolis in a 4-1 vote with Greene dissenting to offer $700,000.

“The Wanderers Club said, ‘Thanks but no thanks; we’re no longer interested,’” Schofield said. “On price alone, it died.”

Ward could try to get a land use change for the property by going through what could be a long, drawn-out process.

“They could always ask for it,” Schofield said. “The village needs to determine what we’re going to do with golf courses. There are five golf courses in the village now. Polo West is one for all practical purposes, there’s nine holes of that functioning and there’s nine holes not being used. It’s open for daily play if you want to play out there, but it’s significantly underutilized.”

The Binks Forest Golf Club has had difficulties, and has made a purchase offer to the village that is still under consideration by the council.

“We all know the circumstances Binks finds itself in,” Schofield said. “They are courting outside buyers, and they’re being significantly underutilized. They’ve essentially said they’re not interested in the price we’re looking at.”

He added that there is also unused golf course land in Palm Beach Polo.

“The nine holes in the north course haven’t had a round of golf played on them in years, so that’s sitting fallow,” Schofield said. “The Wanderers Club was just sold. At some point we need to address what we’re doing with these golf courses. Are there other uses for them? Certainly there are. What they are and what is acceptable to the neighborhoods that immediately surround them and to the village as a whole, I can’t tell you at the moment.”

Schofield noted that the Wanderers Club had talked to the village about the idea of building a small boutique hotel to make the golf course a destination when Goodman, also owner of the International Polo Club Palm Beach, was still in control of the property.

“The Wanderers course and IPC were being tied together, and they were looking at doing some bungalows at IPC and at the Wanderers Club, and making it into a larger club facility,” he said. “That’s certainly a possibility, but none of that happens without a lot of public hearings and a lot of public input.”

Schofield said there are uses that go along with golf courses.

“The clubhouse, the restaurant, there are a lot of uses that can be done, but to do a wholesale conversion on 30 or 40 acres of the executive course, that requires a land use change and a whole series of public hearings,” he said. “I suspect that there are uses the village will find acceptable, and that the residents will find acceptable, because that course has been vacant a long time.”

Schofield said those uses will likely be low-impact uses that increase the value of the neighbors’ land, but it’s a matter of going out and talking to them.

“The Wards know that, and I think they are committed. I met with Jim and Tricia Ward, and they are committed to being good neighbors, and they are committed to doing something that the Lakefield communities are comfortable with and are happy with,” he said. “At the end of the day, the Wards are pretty good people, and they’ve been around Wellington a long time. Even with some of the difficulties we’ve given them, they’ve been good business citizens, and I don’t expect anything less of them in the future.”


  1. This was purchase to build in the future. It will not be a golf course for long.The equestrian does cost our village more than we collect on taxes. As are a business( tax free) they really don’t pay taxes. We they people get shafted and your not doing anything about it. You must be apart of that. lol

  2. Wa Wa Waa….who winds you up with all this nonsense. It seems your panties are in a bunch. Let’s give the seniors the homes they want and where they want them. Also, let’s make it luxurious yet affordable for them just like Mayfair. Give the seniors the best that Wellington can afford.

  3. The Council was foolish to not buy this Executive Golf Course. It was an investment for a future park site that all of us could have utilized. It was Open Space which is hard to come by in this Village.

    These Council members need to go. Wellington is running out of open land and space. This Council is again Ready to give up 10 acres of open space to build more homes and maybe even storied buildings on green space! That’s the Village owned property called Village Green Park.

    The Mayor is leading the way for building on the Village Green Park. He spoke at a recent meeting saying he and his wife want to downsize and maybe even move into what is being proposed for the 10 acre open space park!

    Current Wellington Council=Developers in themselves

    The major and his advocates hope to ‘replace’ the open space,the Village Green Park with playing fields on KPark land and allow MORE DEVELOPMENT in Wellington on the Village Green Park site.

    That 10 acres site is valuable to the Village of Wellington. It has monetary value to us in addition to the open space.

    Once again, the Mayor says the land was a ‘gift’ and Village funds weren’t used to purchase it. This harkens back to KPark when he said ‘utility funds’ were utilized to purchase KPark, not taxpayer funds. Yeah, but taxpayers have been maintaining and paying taxes on KPark AND the Village Green Park for Years! We have an invest in that land. Stop with the political rhetoric!

    Aren’t Parks and Recreation Board members supposed to advocate for MORE open space instead of keeping their mouths shut and letting it slip this open land fall through the Village’s hands for DEVELOPMENT? Guess that is what happens when appointed board members fall in line with their Council person, Mayor instead of staying true to keeping open space and parkland in Wellington.

    Too bad this Council values the Equestrian Preserve more and keeping development out of the Preserve, but then is okay with developing on open space parkland elsewhere in Wellington. It’s All the rest of us that suffers and future generations to come who will need more open space.

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