By Katie Murdoch Herald writer
MOUNTLAKE TERRACE — Hardy Golf LLC will continue to operate and manage Ballinger Lake Golf Course after customers and friends helped it meet a March 2 deadline to pay past due rent of $25,280.
The payment was part of a deal the company struck with the city of Mountlake Terrace. The company must now pay off a $67,417 balance in installments through 2015, as well as a past due water bill of $20,500 by June 30.
It’s part of a long struggle for solvency that has pitted owners Tyrone and Carol Hardy against city leaders.
“Our issue has never been we don’t want to pay,” Tyrone Hardy said. “All we asked was to let us get to the (golfing) season and be able to pay.”
City officials noted they already had lowered the Hardys’ rent to $167,000 since 2008 and worked out payment plans.
“We’re the only landlord they’ve chosen not to pay,” city manager John Caulfield said. “For the city it’s a simple issue. They’re a tenant and need to pay their rent. The city has been very generous over the years.”
Hardy Golf has operated the municipal course since 2006.
The Hardys requested to modify the terms of the five-year lease agreement when the sour economy and wet weather led to lower rounds of golf.
Golf is a discretionary business, Hardy said. The business also is seasonal. If the season is strong, you can create a line of credit to get through the wet months when people are less likely to golf, he said. The past two springs had a low turnout, which meant the Hardys spent the summer playing catch-up from spring, instead of saving up to get through the winter. Additionally, their bank forced them to pay their line of credit, leaving them ill-equipped to get through the slower months.
“The last thing we want is to owe people money but at the same time, it is what it is,” Hardy said.
A small group of friends and customers offered to give the Hardys the money to meet the March 2 deadline. The Hardys said emotional* support from customers and high school golf teams has been uplifting.
“They said, ‘We love you and you’ve worked so hard,’” said Carol Hardy. “We didn’t ask them for it.”
Tyrone Hardy said they spent their savings and used credit cards to keep afloat. “We want to move on. We paid what we owe to move on,” he said.
*Clarification, March 13, 2012: This article originally omitted the word “emotional.”