The Sagebrush golf course remains closed for the foreseeable future as golf season in the Nicola Valley begins.

Zoning issues and the search for a new owner have kept the course from opening this year.

The bed and breakfast cottages on the course couldn’t open for business because they are zoned residential when the Thompson-Nicola Regional District (TNRD) says they should be rezoned as commercial.

“We don’t disagree with that — we can see their point on it — it’s just unfortunate that it’s cost us some opening time here to get the proper zoning in place,” Sagebrush president Bob Garnett said.

Given the popularity of overnight visits to Sagebrush, Garnett estimates a loss of about $400,000 from operating the golf course alone and not being able to open the cottages and Badlands Patio this season.

The process of rezoning is expected to take about six months.

Regina Sadilkova, TNRD director of development services, said she’s hoping to bring forward the first and second readings of a rezoning bylaw by the April 23 TNRD board of directors meeting.

However, in order for that to happen, all the necessary documents and other information needed to write up a report to the directors has to be sent to the TNRD a week ahead of time.

The board of directors usually meets twice per month, but from June through September has only one regular board meeting per month.

Intended to be a golfing resort destination, the current owners — Four for Fore Investments Ltd. — didn’t want to simply open the golf course itself.

“We could have opened the golf course, but the owners said they weren’t willing to step back three years,” Garnett said.

“They spent three million bucks building those cottages so they could accommodate people on site, and it just wasn’t tenable for them to go back three years to when we didn’t have any cottages and only attracted day players.”

Garnett said there is no timeline on when the zoning issue will be resolved.

“It takes whatever it takes, it’s a process,” Garnett said.

Some events at the course, such as Merritt Centennials annual golf tournament, have already had to be cancelled.

That tournament is usually held in August.

Regardless of when the zoning issue is resolved, Four for Fore won’t open the golf course before they find a new owner.

Back in September, Langley-based Newmark Group was expected to become the new owner of the course, but that deal never closed.

A new owner of the course is actively being sought by Four for Fore.

“There’s multiple parties they’re dealing with, and they’re just trying to get somebody to the table now and get it done,” Garnett said.

Although being closed for the entire golf season is a possibility, Garnett said they don’t anticipate that happening.

“We don’t have any contingency plans for that, because we don’t expect that,” he said.

The course’s golf season typically runs from mid-April to mid-October.

Four for Fore consists of the four original investors behind PGA-winner Richard Zokol’s idea of an exclusive golf club catering to the business elite.