Forest Creek Golf Club Management in Dispute
A disagreement over who should manage Forest Creek Golf Club led to an attempted ouster of developer Barton Tuck, orders to clear his office, changed locks and a lawsuit.
Tuck and Forest Creek Holdings LLC sued former partners Terry Brown and his brother and Heidi Hall-Jones (Myers Farm Partnership).
According to documents filed with the court last month, Terry Brown told Tuck he was fired and handed him a letter telling him to vacate his office at Forest Creek. The two had worked together to build the exclusive golf club off Airport Road after Tuck backed away from his earlier idea of buying Pinehurst Resort.
The Browns inherited 1,265 acres of pristine pine forest land just a mile or so from the Moore County Airport. Tuck proposed building a high-end private development on that land in the Sandhills, and they marketed it by word-of-mouth.
Friends and business connections flocked to Forest Creek and the members did the selling of its 37 award-winning holes designed by Tom Fazio.
Tuck describes what his former partners did as “a shameless and reckless grab to wrestle away Forest Creek Development’s 50 percent ownership” when they reportedly fired him and hired another manager, according to the complaint filed with court documents. That firm is Escalante Golf, according to court documents.
Now Escalante is out and Tuck reinstated as the result of a judge’s order to keep things at Forest Creek running smoothly until the matter can be heard.
Tuck is personally on the hook as guarantor of a $6 million loan with $500,000 in revolving credit. His lawsuit says Forest Creek Golf Club is worth $40 million and wants the court to find his dismissal void, recover damages “in excess of $10,000” and asks for a jury trial.
Claims and counterclaims in suits of this kind require considerable judicial experience on the bench. Sarah Parker, chief justice of North Carolina, asked Senior Resident Superior Court Judge James M. Webb to arrange a “special setting for complex business cases” and ordered Superior Court Judge John R. Jolly to appoint a judge to hear it.
Jolly assigned Superior Court Judge James L. Gale, and last week Gale put operation of Forest Creek back in the hands of Tuck and FCH “to provide for the orderly operation” of the resort until the matter could come before the court in May.
Gale ordered all documents to be preserved until then without siding with either party, according to court documents. Neither Tuck and FCH nor the Myers Farm partners may do anything to harm the interests of the others, but his order does allow third parties to act to protect any interest they might have.
Tuck says in court documents filed that management may only be dismissed “for gross negligence or willful conduct” and denies both.
Contact John Chappell at email@example.com.
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