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John Reitman

By John Reitman

Closed for years, Ohio golf course to be absorbed by national park

 A golf course shuttered for nearly five years will be repurposed for the greater good.

The National Park Service recently closed on the purchase of the former Brandywine Country Club, and will remediate the land with the intention of incorporating the 215-acre golf course into Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

011923brandywine2.jpgThe park service bought the property from the Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park, a land trust that acquired the property in 2021, three years after the club's former owner committed suicide.

Remediation of the property to incorporate it into the national park is expected to begin this year. According to the National Park Service, 2.4 million people visit the park annually, making it the country's 11th most popular national park. HZW Environmental Consultants of nearby Mentor, Ohio will manage the project along with the park. The park will remain closed until the project is completed.

Brandywine was one of 120 golf courses that closed nationwide in 2018, but not for the same reasons as many of the other 2,200 closings that have occurred during most of the past two decades.

Sure, the course had a little debt, but nothing compared to what many other upside-down courses have experienced.

The course was designed and built by Earl Yesberger in the 1960s. Yesberger died in 1988, leaving the property to his son, Brett, who died in 2009. Brett's son, Ryan Yesberger, inherited the property, but by then he also had inherited a host of other troubles he would not be able to overcome. 

Troubled by personal tragedy, including the death of two friends in a crash in which he was the driver when he was 17, ultimately were more than Ryan Yesberger could overcome. In 2018, police were called to the club for a disturbance. When police arrived, Yesberger hit one over the head with an object, disabling him. Yesberger, police said, then took the officer's gun and fatally shot himself.

The golf course, then a ship without a rudder, has been coveted by the park service ever since. The transaction closed Dec. 28

"Since 2019, the Conservancy worked diligently to save this property in the heart of our park to protect habitat as well as create a space for all to enjoy the land and Cuyahoga River," Deb Yandala, president and CEO, of Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park, told WKYC in Cleveland.

Brandywine is the second idle golf course in northeastern Ohio to be sold for open land use in the past several months.

In December, Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery purchased Rawiga Golf Club in Rittman for the purpose of incorporating the club's 156 acres into the cemetery for future expansion.

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