Ownership Change Brings New Outlook for Longleaf
Longleaf Golf and Country Club is under new ownership.
Bob Erickson, who was a part of the original investment group, assumed sole ownership of the club on Midland Road in Southern Pines last month through a Tampa, Fla.-based company called Longleaf RLE, LLC, according to Longleaf General Manager Mike Floyd.
Erickson was the mortgage holder on the golf course and country club. He assumed a deed of trust in lieu of foreclosure, in what is termed a "friendly foreclosure," Floyd said.
"In July, August and September, when the economy was going into the tank, the revenues just weren't there, and we were going in the hole," Floyd said. "He was owed the big bill, so he just assumed it himself."
Erickson is reportedly looking into selling the property, but nothing is definite at this point, Floyd said.
Floyd said things have gradually started to improve, and he hopes the economy will turn around soon. The club has instituted cost-cutting measures to cope with the current recession.
"Since Bob has taken over, the course is in terrific condition," Floyd said last week. "The course is alive and kicking. It is probably in the best shape it has been in 10 years. The restaurant is still open, contrary to what some people believe.
"We had a real good February, and things are looking up going into spring. Things will come back."
Floyd said relations with the members has improved some since 2005 when the club underwent another ownership change.
The club had a fractured relationship with some of its members at the time. It had been obtained at auction after being unable to emerge from bankruptcy.
Maples Properties, which had owned the club from its opening in 1988, filed for bankruptcy in 2004.
The bad feelings started in 2000 when he took over management of Longleaf's money-losing restaurant from Boston-based General Investment Development, which ran the real-estate side of the development. Maples instituted a $35 monthly minimum at the restaurant, which angered club members. Some members also became critical of course maintenance.
When GID sold the property in 2002 to Chicago-based CMC Heartland Partners, it withheld nearly a payment due Maples Properties, citing the poor condition of the golf course. Maples sued GID over the withheld payment.
In July 2003, a group of members sued Maples Properties, citing the restaurant minimum, fees, golf-course access and condition of the course. Both lawsuits went to mediation. But Maples Properties filed for bankruptcy in May 2004.
After the hearings, Maples did not want the courts to reorganize the company, so the court ordered its assets sold.
The winning bid of $2.4 million came in from Sound Golf Enterprises, which formed a limited-liability company, Longleaf Florida, to own and operate the club. The deal closed in January 2005.
Sound Golf Enterprises had taken over a club in Tampa called Emerald Greens and Country Club in September 2003. It hired Maples to redesign the golf course.
While working on the Emerald Greens redesign, he mentioned to the principals in the company that he was having a problem with his club in Southern Pines. The company decided that it wanted Maples to continue to be a part of the club. Maples had a 45 percent stake in the club.
That angered some members of the club. By some estimations, about a third of the membership quit.
Attracting New Members
The club now has about 180 members, Floyd said. The club now allows nonresident members.
He said Longleaf has attracted new members from other clubs in the area, as well as from outside the county and outside of the state.
It had about 200 before the debacle in 2005. Some of the members who quit back then did not come back, but a few have, according to Floyd.
"Some just didn't want to come back," Floyd said. "They just need to rip the rearview mirror off. We are trying to move forward. Everything is good. We have a new slogan: 'It's your best time ever.'"
Contact David Sinclair at 693-2462 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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