Under new management, the semi-private Greensboro, N.C., property is “unwinding some changes put in place by its former operator.”
In the two months since it became involved in re-opening and managing Forest Oaks Country Club, Integrity Golf Co. has been undoing some past changes at the Greensboro, N.C., property, and instituting some new ones, the Greensboro-based Triad Business Journal reported.
The former ballroom in the Forest Oaks clubhouse that was converted into a fitness center under former operator ES2 Sports & Leisure, which declared bankruptcy, is returning to a social and gathering space, the Business Journal reported.
Long a private country club, Forest Oaks is now operating as a semi-private course. It’s a strategy to help revitalize the club, open it up to prospective members, and likely pave the way toward Integrity’s eventual purchase of the club, said Gene Garrote, president and CEO of Florida-based Integrity.
The company has been trying to unwind some of the changes put in place by the club’s former operator, and is operating the club under a new semi-private model the company hopes will help renew and generate interest from prospective members, the Business Journal reported.
“It’s kind of been a huge drive for membership to be able to show people what they’ve been missing,” Garrote said, though he declined to release membership numbers. “The signups for membership have been very positive. We feel very positive about the future of the club.”
Integrity is involved with 23 country clubs, with most located in Florida, and owns more than half of those, Garrote said. Forest Oaks is the second North Carolina club for integrity, which owns and manages Thistle Golf Club and Estates in Sunset Beach, the Business Journal reported.
And it’s a second property that Integrity manages for the owner of Forest Oaks, a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Nisshin Corp. headed by Tadashi Hattori. That group also owns Hunters Creek Golf Club in Orlando, which Integrity began managing earlier this year, the Business Journal reported.
“That’s our goal for any of our leased properties, is to ultimately own it some day,” Garrote said. “We’re buyers of golf courses.”
Along with returning the ballroom to its former status, Integrity is planning to create a fitness center within other space within the clubhouse, and is operating the on-site restaurant itself. As managers, ES2 Sports & Leisure has subleased the restaurant space to an outside operator, the Business Journal reported.
While they look to the future, Integrity is also calling on the past. Garrote said his firm is looking to play up the history Forest Oaks has as a PGA Tour stop, and using memorabilia that had been stored away under previous management to decorate the clubhouse and rebuild that connection to the past, the Business Journal reported.
“That’s one of the things that sets it apart, the fact it hosted a PGA event for 30 years,” Garrote said. “It just has so many things that a lot of other great golf courses don’t have, and we want to embrace that. Think of the legends that walked through there.”
He’d like to see some future legends walk through the clubhouse again, and is hoping to host a professional golfing event in the future, but there are no firm plans about how or when that might happen at this point, the Business Journal reported.
“We definitely have a lot of work ahead of us to do,” Garrote said. “Really, everything is on the table right now.”
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