The country club in Lexington, N.C. is now under management from GreatLife Golf of Camp Hill, Pa., which has designs on buying the club. GreatLife intends on purchasing the club and investing around $500,000 in the property in 2024, according to CEO John M. Brown. He said that GreatLife and Sapona club members wanted to begin the relationship with GreatLife managing the course as “sort of a dry run” toward ownership.
A Lexington, N.C. country club formerly owned by NASCAR team owner Richard Childress is now under management from an emerging golf company with designs on buying the club, Triad Business Journal reported.
GreatLife Golf of Camp Hill, Pa., took over management of Sapona Golf Swim and Tennis Club in Lexington, N.C. earlier this month. GreatLife intends on purchasing the club and investing around $500,000 in the property in 2024, CEO John M. Brown told Triad Business Journal on Jan. 30. The 6,620-yard, par-71 course, formerly known as Sapona Ridge Country Club, was designed by Ellis Maples and Ed Seay in 1968. The greens have Zoysia grass — a recent trend — instead of the Bermuda ultra dwarf varieties at most Triad courses.
Brown told Triad Business Journal that GreatLife and Sapona club members wanted to begin the relationship with GreatLife managing the course as “sort of a dry run” toward ownership. Sapona members bought the course four years ago after Childress sold the 172-acre property to Uber executive Mark D. Moore, who closed the course with the stated intention of making the club into a personal home.
A group of members eventually bought the property from Moore, who made $400,000 on the flip, Triad Business Journal reported. Brown said the members have operated the club since with the intention of selling to a buyer who would invest in the golf course and other amenities, which include a 25-meter pool and a restaurant with a ballroom that seats 200.
“They wanted to sell it to someone as long as they were committed to run it as a quality course,” Brown said. He added the golf course had been kept in good condition by the membership, and improvements next year would include work on the irrigation system. Brown said the course will continue to operate with a membership while accepting public play, a change it made when members bought the course.
Since allowing public play in 2019, Sapona has become a destination for not only Davidson County golfers, but also for players from around the Triad as well as the Charlotte metro area, Triad Business Journal reported. Brown hopes to start marketing public play to groups of 4, 8, 12 and 20. “We want to make it an experience,” he said.
Brown said the 15,000-sq.-ft. clubhouse has a “unique layout,” and said GreatLife is “looking into what we want to do.” He noted GreatLife brought in a temporary general manager a few weeks ago. He said a permanent general manager has been chosen and will be announced soon.
Since the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, golf courses have enjoyed a boom in rounds played and increased interest from buyers, Triad Business Journal reported. Last year, Meadowlands Golf Club in Wallburg and Oak Valley Golf Club in Advance were bought by Bob Greear, who already owned Caswell Pines in Yanceyville. GreatLife was formed in a merger of GreatLife Golf, Bowling & Fitness of Sioux Falls, S.D., and Brown Golf of Camp Hill late last summer. The group owns or manages 56 courses on 51 properties. GreatLife has 14 courses in Kansas, 12 in Missouri, six in Pennsylvania and five in Florida with others in South Dakota, Texas, Vermont and Georgia.
Brown told Triad Business Journal that he will soon announce management deals for four Triangle courses in North Carolina — Heritage Club in Wake Forest; The Preserve at Jordan Lake and The Golf Club at Chapel Ridge in Chapel Hill; and Falls Village Golf Club in Durham. Heritage Club is private. The others are open to public play. The courses are owned by Traditional Golf Properties of Williamsburg, Va. GreatLife owns the 27-hole Carolina National Golf Club in Brunswick County, which it bought from Traditional Golf. GreatLife also manages Country Club of Whispering Pines and Foxfire Country Club, 36-hole facilities in the Pinehurst area as well as Palisades Country Club, a private facility in Charlotte. Childress, owner of Richard Childress Racing in Welcome and Childress Vineyards in Lexington, had bought the country club from NewBridge Bank in 2012.