A foursome putts out on 9th green to finish their morning round Thursday at Western View Golf Course in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

AUGUSTA — The Western View Golf Course, Pub and Event Center is expected to change hands after two partners signed a contract for the property Thursday, and it is expected to remain a golf course.

The move came after an auction to sell the property on Augusta’s east side earlier in the day ended when bidders failed to meet the reserve price set by owners Alan and Amy Orcutt. They bought the property in 2018.

Alan Orcutt said under the agreement the Orcutts have with Cathy Cobb and Julie Bernier, the Orcutts will run the golf course for the rest of the season, while Cobb and Bernier complete their business plan and complete the purchase.

Stefan Keenan, auctioneer and Keenan Auction Company’s Real Estate Division manager, said the sales price is not being disclosed.

The deal was struck early Thursday afternoon, about an hour after the auction, Keenan said, adding the Orcutts were extremely pleased with the outcome.

“Let me say this,” Keenan said. “The bid prices were not accepted, so there was no reason for (the owners) to accept them an hour later.”

Auctioneer Stefan Keenan asks for higher bids during an auction Thursday at Western View Golf Course in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

For nearly an hour Thursday morning, Keenan stood in the clubhouse of the Western View Golf Course cajoling bidders interested in buying the property to raise their bids just a little more.

Behind the auctioneer was the stunning view across Augusta to the western mountains, and in front of him were more than a dozen men ranged across the tables and booths in the bar, some playing out their bidding strategy and others just waiting to see who the golf course’s new owner would be.

But at the end of the hour, there was no sale: The top bid of $400,000 fell short of the reserve price the Orcutt’s set when they opted to sell at auction.

Western View Golf Course owner Alan Orcutt on Thursday at Western View Golf Course in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Orcutt, who was standing by at Thursday’s auction and conferred with Keenan and his team three times during the event, said he wasn’t surprised by the auction’s outcome.

The public nine-hole golf course, located a little more than a  half-mile south of state Route 3 on Bolton Hill Road, was offered at auction by Keenan Auction Company after a deal to sell the property fell through earlier this year.  The South Portland-base auction company conducts real estate auctions across Maine and the northeast.

“What’s good about today is some more people got familiar with the property and people got to meet and discuss items, and you never know what comes from today,” Orcutt said shortly after the auction ended and before the property went under contract.

Orcutt said the bidders were developers who were considering building homes on the property, but he and his wife wanted the property to remain a golf course.

“We were able to put something together that’s a really good win-win,” he said. “It keeps the golf course going and the pub going. At the end of the day they are in good shape to take the ball and run with it.”

Orcutt said Bernier and Cobb are longtime members of the course who have traded the club championship for women over the years.

“They truly love Wester View and want to take it to the next level,” he said.

Before the auction, Orcutt said he’d hoped to sell everything for $849,000. The property’s assessed value in 2021 is $572,800, according to bidding materials. Real estate and property taxes on Western View were $12,540.96.

The property encompasses a nine-hole 2,633-yard fully irrigated golf course on about 77 acres. The restaurant, with vaulted ceilings and a stone fireplace, seats 108. All the maintenance equipment and a golf simulator were included in the package.

Golf carts parked next to the clubhouse Thursday at Western View Golf Course in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

At the start of the auction, Keenan reminded bidders that the package includes a lease for the course’s golf carts, as well as long-term lease of about 9 acres that requires the land to be used either for golf or tennis. The 99-year lease, which has 66 years left, can be extended for another 99 years. About 50 acres of the property is currently undeveloped.

Keenan started bidding at $1 million with no takers. He dropped that by increments, until the first bid came in at $250,000. As he pressed for higher bids, he reminded bidders their offers were subject to the confirmation of the sellers.

After the end of the auction, Keenan noted that while the real estate market is strong, developers have concerns about rising inflation and elevated construction costs, and any interested bidder is likely assessing the requirements of running a golf course and restaurant and managing the memberships and staff.

“(Bernier and Cobb) really have plans to take it to the new level,” Orcutt said. “I am really excited for it. It will stabilize the business. We’re going to work together in the transition and help them succeed. We’re looking forward to many good years ahead at Western View.”

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