Uncertainty Clouds Fairways at Maxwelton

Fairways frame the south entrance to Baileys Harbor along Highway 57. They’re among the oldest on the peninsula and have hosted decades of local history. But as May dawns, the esteemed fairways of Maxwelton Braes Golf Resort, which dates to 1929, lie empty.

Last November, Baylake Bank foreclosed on the property. The golf course, condominium development and Highlands Club restaurant have been mired in uncertainty ever since.

Baylake Bank President Robert Cera said April 27 that the bank is nearing a decision.

“We’re not certain at this point what we’re going to do with it, but we will be making that decision shortly,” he said. “We’re actively seeking buyers.”

The property is listed with Links Capital Advisors, a national golf broker, for $2,750,000.

Fred Russler of Appleton has owned a condominium at Maxwelton for six years. He says he and his fellow owners have heard little more than speculation about what is going to happen with the development.

“We’ve been hearing a lot of rumors,” he said. “I’ve counted eight so far, and every single one is different.”

Russler had no complaints about the maintenance for the property or services, but also said there has not been a lot of communication from the bank about the status of the course and facilities.

“We had one conference call in January and the rest of our communication has come through the property managers,” he said. “We would probably prefer more communication. It’s just very disconcerting to not know how this is going to play out.”

While the bank sifts through options, Door County golfers are going elsewhere, leagues that used to call Maxwelton home have moved. The course had become a popular place to hold fundraisers, earning a reputation as a friend to non-profits like the Pink Classic and Gibraltar Booster Club. The uncertainty has forced those organizations to look elsewhere or cancel events.

The Bonnie Braes women’s league has played at the course since its founding 17 years ago, and holds out hope of playing there this year. League organizers have lined up backup options just in case those plans fall through, however.

Cera said the course has received the same maintenance this spring that it would have if it were open and it is in good shape. If it is not opened, the bank will continue to maintain it through the summer.

While Baylake’s first priority is to sell Maxwelton outright, it’s also entertaining lease proposals. One of the difficulties in unloading the property is the diversity of management responsibilities, including a restaurant and bar, banquet facilities, resort, golf course, and incomplete condominium development. Cera said the bank would consider selling the different aspects of the property separately.

“There is one sale number for the course and surrounding developments and another number with it broken up,” Cera said. “It’s very possible that the different elements of the property could be broken up, but it would all have to make sense.”

Cera said the bank hopes to make a decision about opening the course in the next week.