New Candlestone Buyers Identified

May 7, 2008
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BELDING — Steve Leach of Rockford and John Durkee of Cedar Springs are new owners of the 18-hole championship course Candlestone Golf Resort and Inn, it was announced today. The course had been in the Duthler family for more than 20 years.

The original auction sale of the property took place April 28. That deal reportedly fell through before the deal to purchase the site was closed this week.

“We learned that the original sale through Miedema Auctioneering was not completed, and it didn’t take long to consider that this would be a good fit for us and for the West Michigan golf environment,” Leach said in a news release. “It’s a true opportunity to improve the course and keep it locally owned.”

Auto dealer Joe Duthler had owned Candlestone Resort since the 1980s. After he died in April 2007, the family decided to offer the course for sale. The golf course includes a driving range, pro shop, restaurant and bar, banquet rooms and Candlestone Inn, a 25-room hotel, which was all included in the sale.

“At this point, nothing will change,” Leach said. “Candlestone will remain a golf attraction, a nice family place to enjoy great food while overlooking the beautiful woods surrounding the course, as well as a comfortable place to rest your head for an evening or weekend.”

The news release indicated Leach has numerous business interests, all headquartered in West Michigan, including Shoppers’ View — a “mystery shopping” and market research company that evaluates customer opinions of staff and customer service levels for companies throughout North America. Additionally, he and Durkee own and operate commercial retail and offices.

Candlestone Inn Golf & Resort, designed by Bruce Matthews and considered to be one of his best designs, opened in 1978. It is located just west of the town of Belding.

“We start with hosting the West Michigan Amateur Golf Tournament May 17 and 18,” said the facility’s PGA general manager Mike Husby. “This will give us a chance to enjoy great golf from up-and-coming stars, and really get a feel for what improvements we can do to help market future events. Additionally, our plans are to reach out to folks that may not have yet experienced Candlestone and all it has to offer."  

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