The management company, under the leadership of Kevin McCarthy, will operate the Orono, Maine golf course and has absorbed its tax debt of $227,358 from the previous owner, Harris Golf Inc. in a debt-to-equity swap. McCarthy previously bought Old Marsh Country Club in Wells, Maine and Bath (Maine) Golf Club, both of which were owned and operated by Harris Golf.
Penobscot Valley Country Club, which has failed to pay property taxes to the Town of Orono, Maine since 2015, has changed hands, the Bangor (Maine) Daily News reported.
Kevin McCarthy, the former chief executive officer of UNUM U.S., is the new majority owner of the Donald Ross-designed, 18-hole golf course. McCarthy’s management company, Resurrection Golf, will operate the course and has absorbed its tax debt of more than $200,000 from the previous owner, Harris Golf Inc. Harris Golf purchased the course for $3 million in 2007, the Daily News reported.
“There was no money exchanged. It was a debt-to-equity swap,” said Ryan Atwood, the marketing and promotions director for Resurrection Golf. “Harris Golf hadn’t paid the taxes this year and in the previous two years.”
A debt-for-equity swap is a transaction in which the obligations or debts of a company or individual are exchanged for something of value, equity, the Daily News reported.
Attempts by the Daily News to reach Jeff Harris, president of Harris Golf Inc., were unsuccessful.
Orono Town Manager Sophie Wilson said Harris Golf Inc. had not paid its property taxes since 2015. As of Thursday, the unpaid taxes on Penobscot Valley Country Club assumed by Resurrection Golf totaled $227,358.61, the Daily News reported.
The town has placed a lien on the property. The new ownership group did recently pay off approximately $1,600 in sewer fees and personal property taxes, Wilson said.
McCarthy also previously bought the Old Marsh Country Club in Wells, Maine and the Bath (Maine) Golf Club, both of which were owned and operated by Harris Golf, the Daily News reported.
In 2014, Harris told the Bangor Daily News he made a conscious choice not to pay property taxes on time to protest the Town of Orono’s tax bill, the Daily News reported.
“We believe that we’re being overcharged,” Harris said. “If you look back at the history since we bought it, it’s a pattern. We always pay the taxes before the liens mature. For us, it’s the normal course of action. It’s how we run our business.”
At the time, Harris Golf owned or operated 10 golf courses in Maine and five had past-due tax bills. Old Marsh also was among them, the Daily News reported.
Resurrection Golf sees great potential in acquiring PVCC. “This used to be one of the most highly-regarded golf courses in the state. It was, at the very least, among the state’s top 10 courses. It’s a very cool place,” said Atwood, who also noted that the pool, clubhouse and locker room facilities are first rate. “It just needs some love.”
In an email, McCarthy outlined his plans for the course. “As you probably know, the Club has suffered some substantial financial problems. It is carrying a very large debt burden. As such, it will take us time to get organized, deal with financial pressure, while also working to improve operations and rejuvenate the membership and customer experience,” said McCarthy. “We are committed to quality, consistency and transparency.
“We believe the Club has a great pedigree and great potential to live up to its designer and its history,” said McCarthy.
The transfer of ownership to Resurrection Golf occurred over Labor Day weekend, according to Atwood. He explained that in addition to the financial issues, the course needs substantial work, the Daily News reported.
“A lot of stuff had been neglected and overlooked,” said Atwood, who pointed out that Resurrection Golf has brought equipment from Old Marsh and Bath to help with the improvements. “The biggest part is the revitalization of the actual golf course. Turf health is our number one focus. We are doing wall-to-wall aeration right now.”
The change of ownership and philosophy are welcomed by many club members including Dave Gonyar, who played at PVCC when he was a youngster with his father, the late George Gonyar, the Daily News reported.
“We’ve seen a deterioration in the quality of the course. We’ve been feeling it for a year or two but it was very noticeable this year,” said Gonyar, who manages Gold’s Gym in Bangor. “It seemed like (Harris Golf) didn’t have the equipment or the staff to take care of the course.
“It was nice to see (Resurrection Golf) aerating the course and doings other things like clearing the rock wall, stuff that had been neglected,” said Gonyar.
The condition of the course resulted in PVCC losing the right to host the 2018 Maine Amateur Championship tournament, sponsored by the Maine State Golf Association, said Atwood.
“We were fairly confident we could have gotten it back into shape for the Maine Amateur but with the course in as bad a shape as it is in, it would have taken a lot of time. We didn’t want to rush it or push it. But we will be holding it in 2024, the 100th anniversary of the course,” said Atwood.
General Manager Charles Melino, superintendent Dan Allen and golf pro Mark Hall will be retained by Resurrection Golf. PVCC members also will have reciprocal playing privileges at Bath Golf Club and Old Marsh Country Club, the Daily News reported.
Harris Golf Inc. has been involved in two court battles this year. It is trying to regain ownership of the Sunday River Golf Club in Newry and also has accused Boothbay Harbor Country Club owner Paul Coulombe of reneging on a long-term management deal, the Daily News reported.