Virginia Lakefront Links added to McConnell portfolio

  • McConnell Golf COO Christian Anastasiadis said The Water’s Edge Country Club will be brought to standards that mirror their vision of providing pure golf for the true golfer.
    McConnell Golf COO Christian Anastasiadis said The Water’s Edge Country Club will be brought to standards that mirror their vision of providing pure golf for the true golfer.

By Hil Anderson                                                                                     

McConnell Golf acquired a pair of upper-tier golf properties situated on the shores of Smith Mountain Lake, a popular tourism and retirement destination in Virginia’s scenic Blue Ridge Mountains. The destination has been familiar stomping grounds for the company’s founder, President & CEO John McConnell, since the 1990s.

McConnell Golf acquired The Westlake and The Water’s Edge Country Club from their longtime owners, the Willard Companies. Terms of the transaction were not announced.

The acquisition increased the Raleigh firm’s holdings to 15 links. The company manages two other courses on a contract basis.

“I bought my first property in The Water’s Edge in 1994 and my family has enjoyed our ‘home away from home’ for 25 years,” McConnell said. He said he “fell in love with the course and with Smith Mountain Lake” on the first visit he made with golf buddies in the early 1990s.

McConnell Golf acquired its first golf course, Raleigh Country Club, in 2003. It is focused on top-tier clubs that are regional travel destinations for avid golfers, and Smith Mountain Lake fits the bill. Christian Anastasiadis, the company’s COO, said the area’s location in Virginia’s Roanoke region, a few hours from Raleigh, was “strategically located within our footprint…also it opens up a new market for us.”

The move into Smith Lake dovetailed with an overall strategy of operating impressive destination golf courses that are worth the drive.  Last year, McConnell Golf acquired Porter’s Neck Country Club in Wilmington, N.C. and also unveiled a $5.5 million restoration of the Donald Ross-designed Raleigh Country Club.

Although no new acquisitions are currently in the works, Anastasiadis said future deals would have to meet their basic criteria.

“We are a unique, boutique owner and operator,” he said. “When opportunities come along, we vet the properties, but we will always remain true to our standards and to what has made us successful.”

The Westlake, which will remain a public course, is carved out of Blue Ridge forestland, offers 6,511 yards designed by Virginia architect Russell Breeden. Westlake features a swimming pool, food-and-beverage service and venue space for weddings and other events.

The private Water’s Edge is the tony jewel of area with both lake and mountain views and plenty of amenities and activities that complement the PGA Championship level links. Considered a second-home community for an upscale crowd, the club membership is 100 percent Water’s Edge residents. Anastasiadis said McConnell Golf plans to focus first on Waters Edge, which he called, “a beautiful property located along the shores of one of the most scenic lakes in southern Virginia.”

A number of upgrades to the 36,000-square-foot clubhouse are on the drawing table, and “course maintenance protocols will be brought to standards that mirror our vision of providing pure golf for the true golfer,” Anastasiadis said.

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