CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- At the age of 89, Lewis Keller decided to sell White Sulphur Springs' historic Oakhurst Links golf course and all it represents at a public auction.
He'd tried to sell it earlier, he said, after the land was priced by a broker at $4 million. Four men proposed to buy the property for $2.5 million. Keller said that fell through when the group failed to show at the closing.
Now the $410,000 winning bid at the July 28 auction has fallen through as well.
Auctioneer Tommy Garten of Greenway's Real Estate and Auction, Inc., in Covington, Va., confirmed the bid did not go through after 50 people showed up for the auction.
So, after devoting decades of his life to the course, Keller might lose his treasured golf course outright. Southern National Bancorp of Virginia, Inc., (aka Sonabank) might foreclose.
"We don't know a thing," Keller said. "It might be they do [foreclose]."
Oakhurst Links represents much in southern West Virginia. The course has been called the American birthplace of golf. It held its first competition in 1884, predating by a few years the St. Andrews Golf Club of Yonkers, N.Y. Keller bought it in 1959 from Russel Montague after urging from friend and golf legend Sam Snead.
Keller initially bought the property to use as a summer retreat and raise horses, but golf designer Bob Cupp heard of the place and volunteered to help restore it to the days of Montague. Work started in 1991 and it reopened in 1993.