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  • GOLF

    Final round: Cedar Links set to close its doors today

    Medford course one of few golfing options when it opened in 1972
  • Workers lugged equipment out of the restaurant.
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  • Workers lugged equipment out of the restaurant.
    In the pro shop, an attendant wiled away his time in virtual solitude.
    Across the parking lot to the green on what is now the ninth hole, some of the smattering of players who tolerated a threatening sky and cool temperatures, putted out.
    The last days of Cedar Links Golf Course were fading ever so quietly.
    Today, the once-bustling layout in east Medford, one of the few golfing options in the Rogue Valley when it was built in 1972, will be open for play. Green fees are $16 for nine holes, $26 for 18. Nothing special, unless you have a mailer coupon or the like.
    Then it will close forever, its send-off but a whisper.
    "We didn't really want to stir up too much of a ruckus, and we kind of wanted to give ourselves a little bit of a chance to start moving things without things going crazy," said Kelly Jantzer, one of three sons of owners Monty and Theresa Jantzer.
    Kelly Jantzer, who managed the restaurant, oversaw the equipment removal on Saturday.
    According to county records, the Jantzers sold the property in early August for $4 million to Cedar Links Investment Group. The group is made up of three partners, two of them local businessmen Eric Artner and Wes Norton, who are involved in construction. The third, Jack Keese, is in Los Angeles.
    Artner confirmed the parties involved but declined to comment further, saying his group would provide details later.
    In a story on KDRV.com, Kelly Jantzer said golf equipment wasn't part of the sale, indicating the property would be used for something other than a course. On Saturday, he speculated that "since they're real estate developers, they might try to get something going on here."
    Monty Jantzer and another son, Jason Jantzer, and Norton could not be reached for comment.
    The course's days appeared numbered from the time the Jantzers revealed in 2005 their intention to build Cedar Landing, a 118-acre planned unit development. At the time, Cedar Links was 18 holes and had a history of hosting popular tournaments, including a long-running Chapman event and the city championships.
    But late in 2006, crews began digging up what was once the front nine.
    In 2011, the city acquired 5.5 acres at Cedar Links to use as a park.
    As recently as 2011, Monty Jantzer said he was committed to moving forward with the original plan. But it was reported in June the Jantzers applied to have the PUD terminated.
    The announcement of the course's imminent closure was understated, to say the least. Small, yellow signs were posted on the pro shop door and the counter inside. On it were the date of closure, Sept. 22, and a message thanking players for their patronage.
    Scott Lusk, now the head pro at Stone Ridge Golf Club in Eagle Point, got his start at Cedar Links and worked there for 27 years.
    He's troubled to see the course shut down.
    "I started playing out there when I was 14 or 15," he said. "I'm a golfer. Any time you lose golf holes, it's terrible. For so many golfers in this valley, that's where they became golfers. You can go to any club in town, and a lot of those roots went back to Cedar Links."
    Kelly Jantzer, 32, grew up on the course his family built. It was nine holes for 17 years, then they added the second nine in 1989.
    "It's bittersweet," he said of the closing. "I remember when we were building the back nine, my job was to pick the rocks out of the fairway."
    Even though a lot of people saw this coming, he said, there are mixed feelings because so many people have such fond memories of "growing up and learning to play here."
    When it was built, the only nearby public courses were Oak Knoll in Ashland and the par-3 Bear Creek in Medford. Rogue Valley Country Club provided a private option.
    One Cedar Links hole that usually elicits less-than-fond memories was the par-4 seventh on the front nine. A pond the width of the fairway forced most players to lay up. Then a giant tree guarding the left side of the green steered approach shots dangerously close to right — and out of bounds.
    Kelly Jantzer said someone suggested, as an act of golfer vengeance, that they "charge 5 bucks a swing with an ax on that oak tree."
    One of Saturday's players, Devin Torrey, lives near the course. The 26-year-old has played it for a dozen years.
    "It's tough, it's tough," he said of the closing. "It's been around so long and there's been a lot of good memories. It's sad that it's going away."
    Pete Connors, of Radnor, Pa., came off the course shortly after Torrey. He's visiting his nephew, Errin Connors.
    "It's my first time here and I'll never get to play here again," said Pete Connors. "It's a nice little course. It's kind of sad it isn't going to be here."
    Errin Connors lives in Phoenix but considers Cedar Links his course. He and his buddies, he said, often took advantage of mid-week deals.
    "I'm kind of bummed out," he said. "I don't know what I'll do right now."
    He didn't dwell on it being his final round on course, "but it is sad to me.
    "It was so convenient and the price was always right. It's fun and challenging, and up on top of No. 3 and the tee box for 4 is just a beautiful view of the valley. I'm going to miss it."
    His uncle then lightened the mood.
    "The only highlight of the day," he said, "was we weren't that worried about replacing our divots."
    Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479, or email ttrower@mailtribune.com
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