The Beckett Ridge Golf Course was founded in 1975. This 158-acre course was designed by renowned golf course architect, Jack Kidwell, and is located in West Chester Township in southeast Butler County. Its position high atop a hill offers sweeping views of the surrounding area, including downtown Cincinnati, and is especially scenic at night. In 1976, 1,800 acres of farmland was purchased from the Beckett family with plans for construction of a community that would be built around the course. The site was developed by Gary L. Schottenstein, who invested 20 million dollars to get the project started. Over time, the Beckett Ridge community has grown to include several neighborhoods with a wide variety and styles of homes ranging in price from the 100,000’s to over one million dollars. Silos from the original Beckett family farm remain on the property, adding to its historic charm.
Not long after construction of the course was complete, it was sold to Dallas-based Club Corporation of America (CCA). In 1980, when interest rates soared to 15%, an influx of cash was required to keep the course up and running. CCA sold “lifetime” memberships to twenty individuals who provided a 30-year, interest free loan. These members paid no dues or green fees and received one-half off guest fees. The first such member was Lowell Francois, who along with his family had moved to Beckett Ridge in 1978.
“If you build it, they will come” proved to be true for the burgeoning Beckett Ridge golf course and community. In its heyday, the private Beckett Ridge Country Club offered a wide variety of sports facilities and amenities to its 300-400 members including the 18-hole golf course, driving range, pro shop, fitness center, tennis courts, two Olympic-sized pools plus a baby pool, a restaurant, barber shop/beauty shop, and a plethora of social activities, including Christmas and New Year’s Eve parties. The banquet and catering facilities were booked for countless social gatherings, corporate meetings and events, weddings, holiday parties, and more. Every summer, there was a three-day member/guest golf tournament that drew 120 players with many more wait listed. At the conclusion of the tournament, a banquet was held in the clubhouse with over 300 attendees. According to Mr. Francois, the Beckett Ridge Country Club became “fun city.”
In 2002, CCA sold the golf complex to Fore Golf. Initially, the country club and golf course continued to be a profitable venture for the newest owner, however, instead of investing the profits back into the course and club, Fore Golf took money out to invest elsewhere. Memberships began to dwindle as the course began a slow decline and competition was created with the construction of four new courses in the surrounding area. In 2009, the course was forced to go public, and Fore Golf sold off the pool and tennis courts to a separate owner. In early October 2015, a tragic event would impact the golf course. Superintendent Terry Frey was killed on Beckett Ridge Boulevard when his course vehicle was struck by an oncoming van. Mr. Frey had been with the course since its inception in 1975 and was well-known in the Beckett Ridge golfing community for his dedication and hard work. Shortly thereafter, in May of 2016, the course was sold for a third time to local businessman, John Gilbert. In the winter of 2018, the iconic country club/pro shop facility was closed when frozen pipes burst, flooding the structure.
In late March 2020, just as the COVID-19 pandemic was sweeping across the globe, the course was sold for the fourth time to Chinar Properties, LLC. The new owner, a non-golfer, hired Zachary Fink, PGA pro, as the new general manager. With 40-plus years of golf course management experience backing him up, Mr. Fink used his knowledge and funds provided by the new ownership to restore life to this once thriving course. His first priority was to make the course playable, so the initial focus was on the fairways and greens. The irrigation system was upgraded, and new maintenance equipment was purchased and put to good use. In late summer 2020, 73 brand new Yamaha gas-powered golf carts replaced the aging fleet of carts. A massive bunker renovation began in the fall and was completed in the spring of 2021. For the first time in the history of the course, the original builders’ sand was replaced with sand appropriate for a golf course. In the winter of 2022, the former clubhouse was demolished and construction on a new building began in July. The new structure will contain a pro shop, restaurant, and decking on two sides, which will provide scenic views of the course as well as a place to enjoy food and beverages before and/or after completing a round of golf. It will be open in time for the 2023 golf season. Lastly, there are plans to repair the cart path.
In its first 46 years in business, Beckett Ridge Golf Course certainly experienced its share of highs and lows. It not only survived some of the lowest lows but is once again thriving. Improvements are ongoing with the intention of returning this scenic, challenging yet fair golf course to its former glory. The course remains public however annual memberships are available. League play has returned with a vengeance and plans for hosting tournament play are in the works. Feedback from members, returning players as well as first-timers, and the Beckett Ridge community have been encouraging and supportive. To borrow the words of lifetime member, Lowell Francois, fun city is on its way back.