Private clubs turn to members, homeowners as buyers

Private clubs continue to find that the most likely buyers are current members or nearby homeowners

Private clubs continue to find that the most likely buyers are current members or nearby homeowners. 

A group of 70 members recently acquired Tippecanoe Country Club in Canfield, Ohio, and the Palm Desert Resorter Homeowners Association acquired Palm Desert Resort Country Club in California. 

“These are difficult times to be sure, but deals are getting done by motivated sellers,” said Jeff Woolson, CBRE Executive Vice President who represented the homeowners association. “Investors are active, and we expect to put several more properties under contract this summer.”

Woolson, one of the top brokers in the golf industry, closed on three deals in the second quarter of 2020. The other two were The Gary Players Course at Mission Hills North in Rachno Mirage, Calif., and Bright’s Creek, a master-planned golf community in North Carolina. Bright’s Creek was acquired by a homeowner in the community.

The Palm Desert Resorter is the homeowners association surrounding Palm Desert Resort Country Club, which is a par 72, championship golf course and its country club. The deal team included Troutman Partner Michael Whitton in San Diego, who heads the firm’s Golf and Resort Practice. Ken Arimitsu, Senior Vice President, Golf & Land at MadisonMarquette was the broker for the seller.

Tippecanoe was acquired by members and community leaders who assumed $2.2 million in debt and made a commitment of $2.5 million in capital improvements.

“Some of the prominent leaders in the community who have been here a long time helped pole vault this,” said Joe Thomas, an investor in Tippecanoe Acquisition Co., the entity that acquired Tippecanoe, as reported by the Business Journal in Youngstown, Ohio. 

Thomas said the group raised $3 million through the sale of 120 shares. The club’s membership voted overwhelmingly – 95% — in October to approve the deal, but it took more than 8 months to work out the details and close the deal. 

Thomas said memberships should increase once word circulates that Tippecanoe is on solid financial footing. Since May, it has attracted 20 new members. The goal is to reach 275 golf memberships, up from 200 today. By capping golf membership at 275, it will allow members to play without undue delays.

The club opened in 1921 and features a golf course designed by renown course architect Donald Ross. As part of the investment, its clubhouse will undergo significant renovations, including the addition of outdoor dining areas, an enhanced pool area and a cigar lounge.

“What is truly remarkable, and a reflection of the commitment and passion of our membership, is that our members raised $3 million in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Thomas told the local station, WKBN. “We want to help secure the Valley’s future economic development, and we know that for new businesses from across the country to move in, they want a truly private country club for the senior execs who are moving their families across the country to a new region.” 

Add new comment

If you enjoyed this article and would like to sign up for a FREE digital subscription, click here!