4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Bury Me Near the 15th Tee

A wealthy San Diego developer wants to construct what appears to be a first in American history: a private family cemetery on a public golf course, specifically designed as the final resting place for a golf fanatic.

On July 8, Manchester Resorts applied to the City of San Diego for permission to build a private five-plot cemetery on the company's super-upscale Meadows Del Mar Golf Club, just off the 15th tee, on the highest spot on the property, so that company owner and golf lover Doug Manchester and his family members can R.I.P. above a V.I.P. course.

I spent two days pinning down the uniqueness of this project. I called golf experts: the U.S. Golf Association, National Golf Foundation, Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, Golf Business magazine. I asked if any had heard of a golf lover being buried on a public course. None had.

They knew of golf courses being built around pre-existing, very old cemeteries. They knew of golfers' ashes being spread on golf courses.

But then I found a veritable fount of information on golf esoterica: the Golf Nuts Society. It can't be reached by phone, but I submitted my inquiry by e-mail. The golfer who proudly calls himself "The Head Nut" sent my query to his membership. Back came a flood of replies.

Members of Copper Hill Country Club in Ringoes, New Jersey, have to play over a cemetery on the par three 15th hole. "I have seen numerous balls laid to rest," says David Mason. But the cemetery dates to the early 1700s and is home to no golf nuts. The 12th hole at a course near Utica, New York, is built around a circa 1700s cemetery, too. After hooking his ball into a pond, George Shemo requested immediate burial, but his partner talked him out of it.

Sponsored
Sponsored

There was once a headstone near the first tee of Coos Country Club in Oregon. But it belonged to an Indian chief, not a golfer, and has long since been removed.

Similarly, the former Thunderbirds Golf Club in Phoenix had old grave sites near the tee box. Ironically, the course itself almost died of financial distress. But it has been redesigned, renamed Vistal Golf Club, and the graves are gone.

There are some foreign examples. A cemetery is adjacent to Ireland's famed Ballybunion Golf Club. At least one golf nut arranged to be buried there. There is a headstone on a course in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada. A man had wanted to be buried there. After he died on the course, his wishes were granted.

According to legend, C.V. Starr, founder of an insurance company, couldn't get into a country club in Brewster, New York, because he was married to a Chinese woman. So he built his own course, which is now owned by the insurance giant that bought his company. Starr is buried behind the seventh green.

My favorite story dates to 1913. Lake Zurich Country Club, north of Chicago, was so exclusive it had only 40 members -- the most influential people in town. A railroad wanted to extend a spur to Lake Zurich. Invoking eminent domain, the town council accommodated the railroad by condemning part of the land on the third hole. So the physician members had four cadavers brought to the club. The lawyer members drew up papers having the course declared a cemetery. The cadavers were buried in an elaborate ceremony, accompanied by a Chicago jazz band. The railroad relented.

The gravestone had this inscription: "Stranger pause and bare thy head, here lie buried four men in this bucolic spot interred to foil the vile machinations of a huge and heartless railroad corporation who, through the iniquitous law of eminent domain, had thought to seize this beautiful spot for its own fell purposes. May these four rest in peace."

The city planning department will ultimately rule on Manchester's application, although it could be appealed to city council. If it is approved, the Manchester grave site looks like a first.

The city's project manager on the proposal, Farah Mahzari, has fielded many calls from Del Mar Mesa residents. They aren't necessarily opposed; they want more information, she says.

The Del Mar Mesa Community Planning Board, which has an advisory vote, will take up the matter in September. Homeowners at the posh development, who also have an advisory vote, heard preliminary plans a week ago.

The reaction thus far runs between puzzlement and amusement. "We have two houses on five acres with a three-acre field in the middle," says Jim Besemer, a member of the Del Mar Mesa Community Planning Board. "If he gets to be buried in his little field, we should be able to be buried in ours. It is bizarre. I would be surprised if the city listens."

Remington Jackson, also a member of the Del Mar Mesa planning board, says of Manchester, "His lackey started out passing the word that he wanted to be buried on the 15th hole, but in true Manchester fashion, it is now a 70-foot by 70-foot plot [4923 square feet]." Jackson notes that Manchester has already erected a chain-link fence and an arching stone wall.

Many Del Mar Mesa residents suspect that Manchester has the clout to get the project built. But maybe not. Manchester has crossed swords with various branches of the San Diego government before. For just one example, several political groups now want to raise the transient occupancy tax. But Manchester, an opponent of such an increase, was the power behind the so-called "Manchester Initiative" of last year that mandated a two-thirds vote to raise the hotel tax. That has ruffled some feathers, as have some of his past dealings with agencies and politicians.

One possible stumbling block is that the memorial site will sit right next to a planned upscale housing development to be built by Pardee Homes. Residents of the Pardee development would look down on the cemetery, says Bernard Turgeon, senior planner, San Diego Planning Department.

"I have no objections to the concept," says Chuck Corum, assistant vice president of Pardee Homes. "My only concern is what it would look like. Before I make a final determination, I would want to see exactly what they plan."

He definitely wants no big mausoleum. That's not planned. "The headstones will be two feet, three feet high," says Keith Keeter, civil engineer with Latitude 33 Planning and Engineering, which engineered the golf course.

"It's not really a cemetery; it's a small private burial site," insists Perry Dealy, vice president of operations for Manchester Resorts. "It's his [Manchester's] passion. He loves golf. He was thinking about himself, his wife, and his mom," and perhaps two of his five children to occupy the family plot.

Manchester Resorts bought the golf course and a 24-acre hotel development site for $35 million early this year. There has been a permit for a hotel since 1996, but previous owners had not gone ahead, because of weakness in the tourism and golf industries. Some 134 homes have been built; those aren't part of Manchester's deal.

"We are looking to build a five-star product," says Dealy of the planned hotel. Already, the course is one of the most expensive in the county, with a round costing $90 during the week and $120 on weekends.

However, golf is slipping in the U.S., partly because of course overbuilding. Nationwide, rounds were down 3 percent last year, according to the National Golf Foundation, but were only down 0.2 percent in the Southwest.

Since 9/11, tourism has been down sharply in the U.S., but San Diego is doing very well. Through May, occupancy is flat and the average daily-room rate is up 4 percent, says La Jolla hotel consultant Jerry Morrison. "That's really good," he says.

So it's possible the long-delayed resort will get built, thus providing a steady stream of business to the course. And it's likely that the Manchester burial site, if it gets government approvals, will become part of national golf lore -- at least among golf fanatics.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

UCSD hands slapped for not returning Indian relics

Juan Vargas staffers, Darrell Issa treated by Middle East lobbyists

A wealthy San Diego developer wants to construct what appears to be a first in American history: a private family cemetery on a public golf course, specifically designed as the final resting place for a golf fanatic.

On July 8, Manchester Resorts applied to the City of San Diego for permission to build a private five-plot cemetery on the company's super-upscale Meadows Del Mar Golf Club, just off the 15th tee, on the highest spot on the property, so that company owner and golf lover Doug Manchester and his family members can R.I.P. above a V.I.P. course.

I spent two days pinning down the uniqueness of this project. I called golf experts: the U.S. Golf Association, National Golf Foundation, Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, Golf Business magazine. I asked if any had heard of a golf lover being buried on a public course. None had.

They knew of golf courses being built around pre-existing, very old cemeteries. They knew of golfers' ashes being spread on golf courses.

But then I found a veritable fount of information on golf esoterica: the Golf Nuts Society. It can't be reached by phone, but I submitted my inquiry by e-mail. The golfer who proudly calls himself "The Head Nut" sent my query to his membership. Back came a flood of replies.

Members of Copper Hill Country Club in Ringoes, New Jersey, have to play over a cemetery on the par three 15th hole. "I have seen numerous balls laid to rest," says David Mason. But the cemetery dates to the early 1700s and is home to no golf nuts. The 12th hole at a course near Utica, New York, is built around a circa 1700s cemetery, too. After hooking his ball into a pond, George Shemo requested immediate burial, but his partner talked him out of it.

Sponsored
Sponsored

There was once a headstone near the first tee of Coos Country Club in Oregon. But it belonged to an Indian chief, not a golfer, and has long since been removed.

Similarly, the former Thunderbirds Golf Club in Phoenix had old grave sites near the tee box. Ironically, the course itself almost died of financial distress. But it has been redesigned, renamed Vistal Golf Club, and the graves are gone.

There are some foreign examples. A cemetery is adjacent to Ireland's famed Ballybunion Golf Club. At least one golf nut arranged to be buried there. There is a headstone on a course in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada. A man had wanted to be buried there. After he died on the course, his wishes were granted.

According to legend, C.V. Starr, founder of an insurance company, couldn't get into a country club in Brewster, New York, because he was married to a Chinese woman. So he built his own course, which is now owned by the insurance giant that bought his company. Starr is buried behind the seventh green.

My favorite story dates to 1913. Lake Zurich Country Club, north of Chicago, was so exclusive it had only 40 members -- the most influential people in town. A railroad wanted to extend a spur to Lake Zurich. Invoking eminent domain, the town council accommodated the railroad by condemning part of the land on the third hole. So the physician members had four cadavers brought to the club. The lawyer members drew up papers having the course declared a cemetery. The cadavers were buried in an elaborate ceremony, accompanied by a Chicago jazz band. The railroad relented.

The gravestone had this inscription: "Stranger pause and bare thy head, here lie buried four men in this bucolic spot interred to foil the vile machinations of a huge and heartless railroad corporation who, through the iniquitous law of eminent domain, had thought to seize this beautiful spot for its own fell purposes. May these four rest in peace."

The city planning department will ultimately rule on Manchester's application, although it could be appealed to city council. If it is approved, the Manchester grave site looks like a first.

The city's project manager on the proposal, Farah Mahzari, has fielded many calls from Del Mar Mesa residents. They aren't necessarily opposed; they want more information, she says.

The Del Mar Mesa Community Planning Board, which has an advisory vote, will take up the matter in September. Homeowners at the posh development, who also have an advisory vote, heard preliminary plans a week ago.

The reaction thus far runs between puzzlement and amusement. "We have two houses on five acres with a three-acre field in the middle," says Jim Besemer, a member of the Del Mar Mesa Community Planning Board. "If he gets to be buried in his little field, we should be able to be buried in ours. It is bizarre. I would be surprised if the city listens."

Remington Jackson, also a member of the Del Mar Mesa planning board, says of Manchester, "His lackey started out passing the word that he wanted to be buried on the 15th hole, but in true Manchester fashion, it is now a 70-foot by 70-foot plot [4923 square feet]." Jackson notes that Manchester has already erected a chain-link fence and an arching stone wall.

Many Del Mar Mesa residents suspect that Manchester has the clout to get the project built. But maybe not. Manchester has crossed swords with various branches of the San Diego government before. For just one example, several political groups now want to raise the transient occupancy tax. But Manchester, an opponent of such an increase, was the power behind the so-called "Manchester Initiative" of last year that mandated a two-thirds vote to raise the hotel tax. That has ruffled some feathers, as have some of his past dealings with agencies and politicians.

One possible stumbling block is that the memorial site will sit right next to a planned upscale housing development to be built by Pardee Homes. Residents of the Pardee development would look down on the cemetery, says Bernard Turgeon, senior planner, San Diego Planning Department.

"I have no objections to the concept," says Chuck Corum, assistant vice president of Pardee Homes. "My only concern is what it would look like. Before I make a final determination, I would want to see exactly what they plan."

He definitely wants no big mausoleum. That's not planned. "The headstones will be two feet, three feet high," says Keith Keeter, civil engineer with Latitude 33 Planning and Engineering, which engineered the golf course.

"It's not really a cemetery; it's a small private burial site," insists Perry Dealy, vice president of operations for Manchester Resorts. "It's his [Manchester's] passion. He loves golf. He was thinking about himself, his wife, and his mom," and perhaps two of his five children to occupy the family plot.

Manchester Resorts bought the golf course and a 24-acre hotel development site for $35 million early this year. There has been a permit for a hotel since 1996, but previous owners had not gone ahead, because of weakness in the tourism and golf industries. Some 134 homes have been built; those aren't part of Manchester's deal.

"We are looking to build a five-star product," says Dealy of the planned hotel. Already, the course is one of the most expensive in the county, with a round costing $90 during the week and $120 on weekends.

However, golf is slipping in the U.S., partly because of course overbuilding. Nationwide, rounds were down 3 percent last year, according to the National Golf Foundation, but were only down 0.2 percent in the Southwest.

Since 9/11, tourism has been down sharply in the U.S., but San Diego is doing very well. Through May, occupancy is flat and the average daily-room rate is up 4 percent, says La Jolla hotel consultant Jerry Morrison. "That's really good," he says.

So it's possible the long-delayed resort will get built, thus providing a steady stream of business to the course. And it's likely that the Manchester burial site, if it gets government approvals, will become part of national golf lore -- at least among golf fanatics.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Polite Provisions’ Christmas Cricket: a creamy, vegan Grasshopper

“Like a peppermint patty with warm notes of coconut.”
Next Article

Santee politician Randy Voepel protests against media’s attempts to link him to his grandchild’s alleged crimes

Placism!
Comments

Two Cemetery sites Side by Side in the Evergreen section of Greenwood Memorial Park and Mortuary near I-805 and Imperial Ave here in San Diego. Retail is over $10,000 and all inclusive sites (One on top of the other is $7,000) Make your plans before God takes you home, give me a call me anytime. [email protected] / 619-709-0159 Burt

March 16, 2012
Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories Fishing Report — What’s getting hooked from ship and shore From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town The Gonzo Report — Making the musical scene, or at least reporting from it Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Outdoors — Weekly changes in flora and fauna Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Street Style — San Diego streets have style Surf Diego — Real stories from those braving the waves Theater — On stage in San Diego this week Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close