Friday, April 1, 2016

Transactions, april 1, 2016

     Gainesville, Florida. Gainesville Country Club is no longer teetering on the edge of a financial cliff. The 95-year-old club has been rescued by a small group of members who’ve associated themselves with Brown Golf Management, a Bluffton, South Carolina-based firm that describes itself “the leader in golf facility turnarounds.” “We love the club, and to let a 100-year-old club go under was more than we could take,” one of the rescuers told the Gainesville Sun. Gainesville’s 18-hole, George Cobb-designed golf course made its debut in 1963. Years ago, the club had 500 golf members and a waiting list but today it reportedly counts less than 150 members. Citing sources at the club, the Sun says that Gainesville was “on the brink of closing” due to “unpaid bills and declining memberships,” “poor management,” “bookkeeping issues,” and other problems. Brown Golf, which owns and/or operates nearly two dozen golf properties, took a 25 percent stake in the club in exchange for $500,000 worth of promised upgrades.

     Moreno Valley, California. First, the good news: Moreno Valley Ranch Golf Club, which was shuttered last year, is going to reopen, perhaps sometime this summer. The bad news? The club is going to lose its driving range and nine of its 27 Pete Dye-designed holes. At least that’s what Bridge Investment Group intends to do with its recently acquired 112-acre property, pending approval of its plans by city officials. Bridge plans to turn the club’s Valley course into a park and replace its range with 450 apartments. “Having a healthy, viable golf course there will actually increase our land values and property values,” a Bridge official told the Riverside Press-Enterprise. Bridge paid $5.25 million for Moreno Valley Ranch, which by my math is $1.29 million more than Shaco, Inc. paid for it just last summer.

     Lincolnshire, Illinois. Bricton Group and some partners have reportedly paid more than $20 million for the Marriott Lincolnshire Resort, a 175-acre spread that includes a 389-room hotel, an 900-seat theater, meeting space, and Crane’s Landing Golf Course. The 18-hole track was designed by George Fazio and opened in 1975. The seller was Strategic Hotels & Resorts, which had reportedly owned the resort since 1997.

     Galion, Ohio. At a recent auction, an investment group led by John Gleason, a New Albany-based lawyer, bid $700,000 for Galion Country Club. The club, which opened in 1926, has seen better days, as it reportedly currently has just 85 members. “Our goal is to make it successful,” Gleason told the Morrow County Sentinel. The transaction is scheduled to close later this month. Galion describes its original nine holes as “a typical ‘old design,’ ” and it says that Jack Kidwell produced the second nine, in the late 1960s. As part of the sale, Gleason’s group promised to operate the property as a golf course for three years.

     Monroe, Michigan. Gary Campbell and Robert “R. J.” Regan didn’t hang on to Monroe Golf & Country Club for very long. Less than two years after Campbell and Regan purchased Monroe, they defaulted on a loan and watched the 97-year-old private club sell at a public auction. The new owners are Jon Syrocki and his uncle, Matt Syrocki, who appear to have paid $850,000 for Monroe and its 18-hole, Donald Ross-designed golf course. “We’re looking forward to making it more of a family establishment,” Jon Syrocki told the Toledo Blade. “That’s something that’s missing in this town, and we want to connect with the community and become part of it again.” To help make the connection, the new owners plan to open the 179-acre property to the public.

     Seward, Nebraska. The city of Seward has purchased Seward Country Club, a nine-hole course that will celebrate its 50th anniversary next year. The price: $348,750. The venue now operates as Seward Community Golf Course.

     Bainbridge, Georgia. The Bainbridge-Decatur County Recreation Authority has, in the words of a local newspaper, “accepted responsibility, financially and operationally,” for the Pines Golf Course. It may not be a long-term relationship, because the 18-hole course reportedly had just 3,600 players last year (3,300 in 2014) and the authority so far hasn’t made any promises about the future. The Pines, which has been in business since the mid 1940s, is owned by Decatur County.

     Grinnell, Iowa. Grinnell College has purchased Grinnell Golf & Country Club, a venue that was founded faculty members way back in 1899. “The opportunity to pick up 56 acres of beautiful space that we already use for our own golf team, directly adjacent to campus, was something that doesn’t come along very often, if at all,” a spokesperson for the college told the Scarlet & Black. The college hasn’t revealed what it paid for the club and its nine-hole course, but the spokesperson noted that the property has been “in a death spiral” in recent years. There was no debate about the club’s future, for its members reportedly approved the sale by a vote of 107-1.

     Cookeville, Tennessee. Lanny Dunn has given Cookeville Golf Club, a property that’s said to be worth $2 million, to Tennessee Tech University. “We are excited about the ways in which this gift expands the university’s ability to offer students added experiences that makes their Tennessee Tech degree distinctive,” the school’s president told the Cookeville Herald-Citizen. Cookeville’s 18-hole golf course, which has operated since 1947, figures to become the new home of the school’s golf teams.

     East Longmeadow, Massachusetts. Dave Fleury, a Massachusetts-based golf course architect, has acquired his second golf property. At a foreclosure auction in January, Fleury and some partners reportedly agreed to pay $1 million for Elmcrest Country Club, a 110-acre venue outside Springfield that opened in the mid 1960s. Fleury, a partner in Roger Rulewich’s design firm, purchased Crestview Country Club in nearby Agawam in 2012. In a conversation with the Republican, he called the golf business in western Massachusetts “a little bit of a struggle” and explained his purchases as a consequence of “my love of golf.”

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