Friday, May 6, 2016

Transactions, may 6, 2016

     Middletown, Rhode Island. A Boston-area development group is the new owner of a venue that calls itself “one of New England’s finest golf courses.” Combined Properties has purchased, for an undisclosed price, the 350-acre Newport National Golf Club. “As a golf enthusiast and resident of the community,” Combined’s president said in a press release, “I was thrilled when this rare opportunity presented itself.” The club’s featured attraction is its 18-hole Orchard course, a co-design by Arthur Hills and Drew Rogers that opened in 2002.

     Wellington, Florida. Mark Bellissimo is trying to capitalize on whatever synergies exist between golf and polo. Bellissimo, the principal of the group that owns the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, has acquired the nearby Wanderers Club, reportedly for slightly more than $6.86 million. The seller was a trust affiliated with John Goodman, who’s currently serving time for driving under the influence and manslaughter. In 2005, Goodman reportedly paid $9 million for what was then called Wellington Golf & Country Club, and he hired Peter Jacobsen and Jim Hardy to redesign the club’s 18-hole, Johnny Miller-designed golf course. The new Wanderers Club added a polo field to its driving range, and the Palm Beach Post reports that Bellissimo intends to run shuttles between his polo club and the golf club “to increase the reach of his budding equestrian empire.” Incidentally, the Wanderers is said to have a second golf course, an 18-hole, executive-length track, that’s still for sale.

     Rutherfordton, North Carolina. Mark Bellissimo has also purchased a golf course to complement his polo operation in North Carolina. Bellissimo and his partners have closed on Cleghorn Plantation Golf & Country Club, a 44-year-old property that’s said to be less than seven miles from their Tryon International Equestrian Center. Cleghorn, which features an 18-hole, George Cobb-designed golf course, will henceforth be known as the Fairways at Tryon Resort.

     Cornwall, New York. One of our nation’s oldest golf properties, one that’s been in financial trouble of late, has changed hands. Storm King Golf Club, which had its debut in 1894, has been rescued by Adrian Goddard, a real-estate developer, and his wife, Donna. No need to fear for the course’s future, however, because it appears that deed restrictions will oblige the Goddards to continue operating the club and its nine-hole course. Besides, Adrian Goddard told the Middletown Times Herald-Record, “I can’t think of anything nicer than just sitting here and peering out across the valley.” To be sure, though, Storm King has most certainly seen better days. The newspaper reports that a “combination of heavy debt and declining membership” had “spun the club into bankruptcy,” and the Goddards bought it from a local bank for an undisclosed amount.

     Henderson, Kentucky. An offer has been placed on the defunct, rapidly over-growing Players Club. Mike Chambers has agreed to buy the 18-year-old venue, which closed in March and which has likely met its permanent end. The Players Club had once been owned (at, at the time of its closing, was being leased) by Danny McQueen, a member of the Kentucky Golf Hall of Fame and the owner of several golf properties in the state. The Gleaner says that the club lost about $250,000 over the last four years of McQueen’s ownership. “It didn’t get the support it needed, and we couldn’t make it work,” McQueen confessed. Earlier this year, McQueen sold one of his remaining courses, Dix River Golf Course in suburban Lexington. He still owns two venues in Nicholasville, Keene Trace Golf Club and Golf Club of the Bluegrass. Chambers hasn’t announced any plans for the Players Club property, but the Gleaner says that “it appears the site’s days as a golf course may be over.”

     Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. The owner of two golf properties in Mount Pleasant has acquired a third. Jim Feeney, acting through an LLC, reportedly paid $5.5 million for Dunes West Golf & River Club, a venue that’s been described as “a trophy property in the Charleston market.” The club, which opened in 1991, features an 18-hole, Arthur Hills-designed golf course. Feeney, who’s said to be a New Jersey-based investor, bought the club and other real estate from a group led by John Wieland Homes, which is developing the accompanying Dunes West community. Feeney’s other holdings in the city are RiverTowne Country Club and Snee Farm Country Club.

     Orrington, Maine. The financially at-risk Rocky Knoll Country Club is facing an uncertain future. Erlene “Stella” Morgan, a self-described “self-made businesswoman,” paid $350,000 for the property at a foreclosure auction in March. She didn’t commit to operating the club and its 18-hole course, and, when asked if she would honor previously sold memberships, she reportedly replied, “I will honor [them] if we continue the course.” Orrington’s town manager told the Bangor Daily News, “I would not be surprised if she was looking to develop something, but I do not know.” The newspaper reports that Morgan placed the only bid on the 16-year-old club, which has an assessed value of $629,000.

     California, Kentucky. The owners of a small grocery-store chain have purchased the former Flagg Springs Golf Course. Vic Dawn and Scott Schoulties, who operate a trio of Marketplace stores, paid an undisclosed amount to Jack Morris for the 120-acre Flagg Springs property. The club, which opened in 1997, is now known as Twin Bridges Golf Club.

     Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. Two members of a local family aim to breathe new life into one of the state’s oldest golf courses. Fred Benoit, Sr. and his son, Fred Benoit, Jr., have agreed to pay $450,000 for the Crossings at Sault Ste. Marie, an 18-hole layout that the Sault Ste. Marie Evening News says “had fallen on hard times” in recent years. According to the newspaper, the city will net just $22,000 from the sale after it pays the property’s debts and obligations. The Crossings was reportedly founded by employees of Union Carbide Corporation and opened in 1901, 1903, or 1906, depending on who’s writing the history. Back then, the course had nine holes and was the centerpiece of what was called Sault Ste. Marie Country Club, and it stayed that way until the mid 1980s, when Jerry Matthews redesigned the original nine and added a second nine. Fred Benoit, Jr. told the newspaper that he and his father hope to make the course “one of the top semi-private golf clubs in northern Michigan.”

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