Former Weatherwax golf course now part of Butler County system’s largest park

There is no hustle and bustle at the former Weatherwax Golf Course clubhouse which is now part of the new Meadow Ridge Area of Elk Creek MetroPark in Madison Twp. The building is closed and fenced off and the former parking area for golf carts has been replaced with grass. MetroParks of Butler County officials said there are no confirmed or immediate plans for the old clubhouse building. Officials said architects examined the structure during the master planning process and determined it was unsuitable for public use in its current condition, due to age and long deferred maintenance issues. ED RICHTER/STAFF
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There is no hustle and bustle at the former Weatherwax Golf Course clubhouse which is now part of the new Meadow Ridge Area of Elk Creek MetroPark in Madison Twp. The building is closed and fenced off and the former parking area for golf carts has been replaced with grass. MetroParks of Butler County officials said there are no confirmed or immediate plans for the old clubhouse building. Officials said architects examined the structure during the master planning process and determined it was unsuitable for public use in its current condition, due to age and long deferred maintenance issues. ED RICHTER/STAFF

Editor’s Note: This story on the park’s opening first published on Dec. 24, 2018.


A little more than two years ago, the last golfers teed off for their final games at the former Weatherwax Golf Course in Madison Twp.

Now, the property has new life as part of the largest park in the MetroParks of Butler County system.

The 456-acre parcel that was once the home of four 9-hole golf courses that was a creation of famed golf course designer Arthur Hills held its soft opening Dec. 17, 2018, as the Meadow Ridge Area of Elk Creek MetroPark.

MORE: Weatherwax sale to MetroParks is end of golf course

The park is open for daily use with its network of 6 miles of hiking trails and 4.8 miles of paved trails that were formerly golf cart paths. There are also 11.7 miles of horse trails, and a horse camp is planned for the park.

Combined with the adjacent 352 acres Sebald Park, the new Elk Creek MetroPark contains nearly 800 acres and has a new address, 5101 Circle Parkway.

MetroParks said the total cost of the project to date is $3.06 million and was funded by $150,000 from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, $2.22 million from the Ohio Public Works Commission Clean Ohio Green Space Conservation Fund grant, a $688,000 in-kind private contribution and $10,000 contributed from the MetroParks’ general fund budget.

Prairie grass and other native plants and vegetation have taken over the former fairways and putting greens at the former Weatherwax Golf Course which is now the Meadow Ridge Area of Elk Creek MetroPark in Madison Twp. The former cart paths still remain and are being used as walking/hiking paths. The new park opened on Dec. 17 after being closed to the public for two years. ED RICHTER/STAFF
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Prairie grass and other native plants and vegetation have taken over the former fairways and putting greens at the former Weatherwax Golf Course which is now the Meadow Ridge Area of Elk Creek MetroPark in Madison Twp. The former cart paths still remain and are being used as walking/hiking paths. The new park opened on Dec. 17 after being closed to the public for two years. ED RICHTER/STAFF

Since 2016, restoration work has been ongoing on the property and has included Master Planning, invasive species removal, removal of dead trees, stream restoration, reforestation, planting of native prairies and grasses, wild flowers, repairs and refurbishing of the main large shelter next to the main parking area, design of a trail system from the existing paved paths, and installation of trail and directional signage throughout the park.

MORE: Weatherwax closure feels ‘like a death’ in golfing family

Tony Carpenter, MetroParks’ supervisor of park operations, said more than 1,000 trees have been planted by volunteers, contractors and park staff. The trees have been planted throughout the park property in groups and elsewhere.

“This is an amazing piece of property, an amazing park,” he said. “To have key pieces such as paved trails, puts you right in nature. There’s no other experience like this in the county.”

MORE: Golfers planning final rounds at Weatherwax

Due to the sheer magnitude of acreage, work on this property will continue over time, with improvements occurring as resources become available.

Prairie grass and other native plants and vegetation have taken over the former fairways and putting greens at the former Weatherwax Golf Course which is now the Meadow Ridge Area of Elk Creek MetroPark in Madison Twp. The new park opened on Dec. 17 after being closed to the public for two years. ED RICHTER/STAFF
Caption
Prairie grass and other native plants and vegetation have taken over the former fairways and putting greens at the former Weatherwax Golf Course which is now the Meadow Ridge Area of Elk Creek MetroPark in Madison Twp. The new park opened on Dec. 17 after being closed to the public for two years. ED RICHTER/STAFF

MetroParks purchased the property in 2016 from the Trust for Public Lands. The former golf course was formerly owned and operated by the city of Middletown from 1969 until 2014 when it was sold for $1.6 million to Myron Bowling, a Hamilton auctioneer.

Bowling leased the golf course for two years before it was purchased by the Trust for Public Lands in 2016 who worked with MetroParks to acquire the property. MetroParks officials at the time said the grant funding used to purchase the land is only for passive recreational purposes, and operating a golf course did not fit in that criteria.

MORE: 8 important dates in Weatherwax Golf Course history

As for the former clubhouse, it remains unsuitable for public use, and restoration would cost more than $1 million, according to Becky Vanderpool, MetroParks senior manager of park connections.

MORE: Auction at Weatherwax Golf Course attracts hundreds of bidders

“The purchase of and restoration work at Meadow Ridge were mostly funded by an Ohio Public Works Commission Clean Ohio Green Space Conservation Fund Grant,” she said. “Since the MetroParks, as an Ohio park district, is a large public natural greenspace provider, it was and is the large land base of Elk Creek MetroPark which is of primary interest to the park system as it strives to fulfill its mission and its responsibilities to its customer-owners, the citizens of Butler County.”