PORT ORCHARD, Wash. - At a time when local municipal golf courses are closing down, a small 18-hole course in Port Orchard is coming back to life.
“It’s not too long, it’s not too short, and it’s not too crowded,” said Jesse Aqui. He golfs at Village Greens nearly every day with his wife Priscilla.
But for several months, Village Greens was deserted, closed down by the Kitsap County Parks Department after years of losing money.
“A little bit of our life was kind of snuffed out," said Aqui. “We were just waiting, wondering what was going to happen.”
An unlikely savior came to the rescue. Joe Perdue lives in Maine, where he owns a golf course. But he also grew up in Kitsap County and learned to play at Village Greens as a kid, where he eventually became the club pro.
When he heard the course had closed, he took a shot to save it.
"I just started making phone calls to see if there was any way to keep the place open," said Perdue.
With his vast experience in the golf world and course management, he convinced the county to say yes to a 10-year lease.
Perdue says there are lots of opportunities to raise the revenues at the course, including creating tournaments, along with a senior golf league. He also wants to market the course to area families.
“He stepped up and said, 'I’m going to make this happen,'" said Aqui.
Perdue now makes the trek across country one week a month, and when he’s there, he sometimes runs into people he once taught to play golf. They are still coming back to Village Greens.
“They’ll come in and shake my hands, and their eyes are getting a little watery and their lip is trembling. It’s been very emotional and very humbling," he said.