The Albuquerque, N.M. property is being sought by a group that would rename it The Canyon Club and operate it as a for-profit enterprise with both equity and nonequity memberships.
A group of entrepreneurs in Albuquerque, N.M. is trying to acquire the assets of Four Hills Country Club and return the beleaguered facility and its 18-hole golf course to what it once was, the Albuquerque Journal reported.
Brothers Larry and Jerry Lujan, two of Albuquerque’s top amateur golfers for four decades and former owners of the Manuel Lujan Insurance Agencies, are two of the group’s six founding members that have spearheaded the effort to take over the property, which will be renamed The Canyon Club if the deal is completed, the Journal reported
“We didn’t want the golf course to shut down due to foreclosure,” Jerry Lujan told the Journal. “We think it can be a viable, for-profit club where people can go and golf. But we’re not successors to Four Hills. We’re negotiating with the mortgage company that owns the assets, so we can acquire the assets rights from the mortgage company. It will be a brand new club.”
The mortgage company, based in the Midwest, had foreclosed on the property, and if the sale of assets doesn’t go through, the club will likely close, Lujan told the Journal.
Four Hills, which from 1986-91 was the site of a Senior Tour (now Champions Tour) event, is a nonprofit entity has struggled financially in recent years, the Journal reported.
Both the Four Hills Board of Directors and its membership voted in favor of The Canyon Club taking over the assets, the Lujan brothers told the Journal.
The Canyon Club was formed by local businessmen who previously tried to bail Four Hills out of financial troubles.
“There’s a group of about 45 of us that had a second mortgage on the club, and we lent some money to the club some years back,” Larry Lujan said. “Now, we’re talking to the first mortgage holder about making it a for-profit venture, and trying to get multiple people involved.
“We want to keep it a very vibrant club for the current members and future members. We want a club that is really, really good for the Four Hills neighborhood, good for the community, and good for the Sun Country Golf Association and professional golf.”
The Canyon Club’s founding group, the Journal reported, includes:
- Jerry Lujan, owner of Elevation 180, a strategic coaching business;
- Larry Lujan, chairman of Hub International, which purchased the Manuel Lujan Agencies;
- John Heer, an Albuquerque attorney at the firm of Laflin, Pick & Heer;
- Bill Golden, owner of Golden Equipment;
- Paul Cauwels and Jeff Stuve, owners of Cauwels and Stuve property managers and developers.
Many false rumors were circulating about The Canyon Club, Jerry Lujan told the Journal, including that a mandatory $25,000 fee would be required to join. That fee would only be for those who want to become equity members, he explained, and nonequity memberships would also be available.
The Canyon Club hopes to have 200 equity members and another 150 nonequity members, Jerry Lujan told the Journal, and the initiation fee and annual dues are still to be determined.
The Canyon Club plans to keep the Four Hills property’s 18-hole golf course, pool, tennis courts, restaurant and catering service, he added, and nothing will change for at least 60 days. “We need to do an analysis of the viability of the property,” he said.
“The course needs a lot of work, but we’re fortunate because Superintendent Rob Clark has done a great job with very little,” Jerry Lujan said. “The rains this summer really helped, but it needs a lot of improvements.”
Larry Lujan says he didn’t want Four Hills to suffer the same fate as the old Paradise Hills Country Club, which is now a public course (Desert Greens Golf Course), or go through the problems facing the former Rio Rancho Country Club (now Chamisa Hills Golf & Country Club), which is struggling to find an owner, the Journal reported.
“Another failed club like that would be another black eye for the community,” he said. “We want to create a club that becomes a big success story instead of another failure.”
Four Hills is far from alone in its struggles, Jerry Lujan added.
“The old not-for-profit system of governance for country clubs is antiquated,” he said. “There are hundreds of clubs in the same boat around the country, either out of business or going out of business as we speak.”
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