September 18, 2008
Missoula's John and Colleen Powers hope to build community at Ranch Club golf course
John and Colleen Powers look out over the few hundred acres of The Ranch Club and see not just rolling fairways.
They see a community.
And that's what they hope to create as the new owners of The Ranch Club. Formerly Phantom Links, the golf course and surrounding development opened in 2004 as part of the Washington Group. The Powers purchased the course in spring 2007, and while the existing real estate development that was next to Phantom Links was not included in the purchase, there are over 200 acres of additional development that the Powers have their eyes on - to create a community unto itself on the western edge of Missoula.
Here, in low meandering fields just a few minutes from downtown Missoula lies the Ranch Club, an 18-hole links-style course. The entire development will be private, giving Missoula golfers and families and alternative to the only other private club in Missoula: the Missoula Country Club, which at one point had entertained the idea of purchasing the property.
When that didn't pan out, the Powers stepped in. Colleen is an insurance executive and John formerly owned a funeral urn business. When the opportunity arrived for them to buy the course - and realize their dream - they jumped on it. Both are relatively new to the golf course and real estate business; John, whose family hails from Butte, was a scratch golfer until a wrist injury prevented him from making a run at professional golf.
"It was perfect timing for us," says Colleen, a Helena native.
The golf course was built on former ranch land that provides sweeping views of the Missoula valley and nearby mountains. A challenging track with multiple tee boxes, the course is already being eyed as a stop on the Nationwide professional golf tour, and the Powers family is building toward that goal. They're backed by some of the top names in Montana golf; Mike Barnett and Ty Weingart head up the pro shop and instructional duties, along with University of Montana women's golf coach Joanne Steel. "We have a great team of people," Colleen says.
The Powers' plan is to maintain the high quality of the golf course and expand the real estate offerings. The course will be private, with about 350 members. A swimming pool will be added to the club house, giving it more of a country club feel; a place where families can gather. And that's already happening. "The newest member is only one month old," John says. "They're building it themselves," he adds, referring to the owners who are starting wine clubs and women's groups. "They're taking part, and they're doing it."
One family moved across town from the hills above Missoula - to the rolling hills west of Missoula. It's here they want to build a legacy for their grandchildren.
"It wasn't our dream to own a public course," Colleen adds. "It was our dream to build a neighborhood."
On the Web: www.ranchclub.com