Hilda Allen, pioneer and leading golf broker, passes away at 73

Hilda Allen, the golf industry’s leading sales auctioneer and its most active broker, died unexpectedly on June 24 at the age of 73. 

Allen, who lived in Adel, Georgia, was one of golf’s most distinctive personalities, with her thick Southern Georgia accent, outgoing personality and no-nonsense approach to golf course sales. She moved into golf courses sales in 1989, and her firm, Hilda W. Allen Real Estate, sold more than 1,000 courses since then, with her handling the majority. Many of those courses were in the Southeast, but she handled sales across the U.S. While she handled a lot of lower priced deals, she also handled higher-end sales as well. 

She was a resource for the most active buyers in the industry and other brokers, providing comparison sales and other data. She helped several families handle course closings after the owner had passed away, and the family didn’t know what to do. 

Allen died from a blood clot, people close to her family said. Her firm has continued to be very active, with three sales about to close, and Allen handling around 20 a year. She is survived by two sons, including William “Marty” Howell, who has worked with Hilda for several years and will take over the business. 

Marcia Mayes, who works with the brokerage, said Allen was an incredible pioneer — especially for women in the golf business. 

“I had been at ClubCorp for many years and it came time for me to go,” Mayes said. “[One of the first calls] I got was from Hilda offering me work. She made me a position and for five years we were really active. It was a huge personal thing for…the opportunity and her mentorship.” 

Allen was known to be one of the hardest working people in golf. Yet, she was generous and very religious, making time for what mattered most. 

Allen Depuy, a broker with Colliers International, said when he first started his business several years ago he was driving his family to DisneyWorld. He called Allen and told her he was driving past her home. 

“[She] did not hesitate one second in saying, ‘You better stop by my house and let them babies out of that hot car to swim in my pool!’” he wrote. “Upon arrival, she didn’t give it a second thought to shutting down her busy office for hours, while we sat poolside drinking lemonade, watching two young boys splash around under the hot Georgia sun.”

Depuy said it was her spirituality that made her one of the first people who he reached out to when his father passed away.

Mayes agreed.

“She was the type of person you could call and she would help, no questions asked,” she said.

Steve Ekovich, executive managing director and partner of Leisure Investment Properties Group, called her a consummate matchmaker. 

“She would see a course and know who the buyer was immediately,” he said. “We enjoyed competing for listings against her and my whole group is saddened by the passing of the matriarch of the golf brokerage business.” 

Allen was a regular speaker at industry conferences, including the Golf Inc. Summit, and was well known throughout the golf industry.

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