John McConnell says the shutdown is temporary; the plan is to reopen Musgrove Mill when the economy improves.
McConnell Golf, headed by entrepreneur John McConnell, has uncharacteristically shifted into reverse with its decision to close one of its courses in South Carolina, reports the Raleigh News-Observer.
Faced with continuing losses and declining membership, McConnell Golf has decided to shut down the Musgrove Mill Golf Club in Clinton, S.C., a course in a rural setting designed by Arnold Palmer. It’s scheduled to close Dec. 1.
McConnell said in an interview that Musgrove Mill was struggling financially when his company bought it in 2007. Subsequent efforts to turn the business around didn’t take.
“Unfortunately, we hit the economic downturn right after we bought it,” McConnell said.
A letter McConnell wrote to Musgrove Mill members reported that Musgrove Mill suffered a $650,000 operating loss last year and is expected to lose a similar amount this year.
“After four years of ownership and investing several million dollars to purchase and upgrade this club, it has been determined by our management team that we cannot continue to fund the club’s operating losses that we are experiencing in today’s challenging economic environment,” he wrote.
But McConnell sees the shutdown as temporary. The plan is to reopen Musgrove Mill when the economy improves. In the meantime, the company will spend an estimated $200,000 a year to keep it in mothballs.
In August, McConnell Golf acquired its third course in the Triangle and eighth overall when it paid $1.8 million for the TPC Wakefield Plantation country club. Other courses include the Raleigh Country Club and Treyburn Country Club in Durham and Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, which was acquired in February.
McConnell said all but one of the company’s other courses are profitable, and none of them are in danger of closing.
Last year, McConnell Golf’s revenue totaled $15 million, a double-digit increase on a percentage basis. So far this year, McConnell said, revenue is up 41 percent – but those numbers are skewed by the addition of Wakefield.
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