Fazio has joined Colony 9, LLC as an investor to purchase Forest Creek Golf Club in Pinehurst, N.C., marking the first time he has invested in a property with a golf course that he designed. Saban is one of five new owners of The Waterfall Club, located in Clayton, Ga. near where the University of Alabama’s head football coach has a lake home.
World-renowned golf course architect Tom Fazio has joined Colony 9, LLC as an investor to purchase Forest Creek Golf Club in Pinehurst, N.C. from Forest Creek Investors, a membership owner group. The transaction was completed on December 28, 2017 and The Pilot of Southern Pines, N.C. reported that according to records filed with the county Register of Deeds, the sale closed for approximately $9.6 million.
His ownership stake in Colony 9 marks the first time in his career that Fazio, a longtime resident of Hendersonville, N.C., has invested in one of his own designs. He joined two other long-time Forest Creek members in forming the company, which has initially committed to at least $2 million in golf course enhancements at the club in the next two years.
In November 2017, The Pilot reported, Forest Creek Investors announced that a potential deal had been called off with a California-based developer, Manchester Financial Group. Earlier last year, the club signed a non-binding letter of intent, but no financial terms were announced.
Earl Ellis, past Chairman of Forest Creek Investors and a principal of Colony 9, told The Pilot that the three new owners—himself, Fazio and primary partner, Bobby McCann—are extremely excited about the future.
“This has been a passion on my part. I believe Forest Creek is one of the top ten places in the country to live and we have phenomenal facilities,” Ellis said.
Ellis acknowledged that the club has struggled in the last few years, “as have all in the golf business,” and said the partners decided to pay off all of the club’s debts and were committed to putting money back into the courses.
“The courses are in very good shape, but there are some maintenance things. We’ve committed to do that,” he said.
One of only two residential golf course communities in the United States to feature two Golfweek “Top 100” golf courses, Forest Creek Golf Club’s North and South Courses are distinctly different, but both are championship caliber.
“I have always considered Forest Creek at the top of my accomplishments as a golf course architect and look forward to spending more time there while personally overseeing the renovation programs of both the North and South Courses,” Fazio said.
“Forest Creek is one of the truly elite golfing experiences in this country,” he added. “I was given carte blanche to adapt the two courses to the majestic, rolling North Carolina Sandhills topography, and the result was that the layout of each challenging but playable course does not resemble the other.”
In addition to the two Fazio-designed 18-hole courses, the club’s facilities include a state-of-the-art locker room and practice facility, swimming pool, fitness center, tennis courts, clubhouse, pro shop, and biking and jogging trails that wind through the development.
Developed in 1996, Forest Creek’s master plan calls for 750 residential lots. Originally, club members were required to own property in the community, The Pilot reported, but that restriction was loosened in 2013, following the acquisition of the club the year prior for approximately $15 million by a group of 189 members.
Ellis was not a founding member of Forest Creek, but first began visiting the community in 1997, not long after it formed, The Pilot reported. He said there are benefits to the private club’s location in Pinehurst.
“If Forest Creek was out in the country somewhere, it would not be as special,” he said. “Pinehurst is a big part [of Forest Creek’s appeal] because there is so much to offer here. We think we have the best of both worlds.”
In addition to the two golf courses and related facilities, Colony 9 acquired 112 undeveloped lots in the 1,265-acre master-planned community. All current members in good standing at the private club were invited to join the new club without any additional fees, and the ownership group has committed to never assess the membership nor increase dues for at least two years.
“This exciting new chapter in our story will allow one of the country’s premier private clubs to further elevate our overall daily service experience,” said John Buser, Forest Creek’s General Manager and Chief Operating Officer.
While it may not come close to being viewed as adequate payback by fans of the Georgia Bulldogs that his team just defeated in the national championship game, University of Alabama football coach Nick Saban has joined the ownership group of The Waterfall Club in Clayton, Ga., near his lake home in the mountains of northeast Georgia, AL.com reported.
Saban is one of five new owners in a group that also includes longtime National Football League coach Ken Whisenhunt, AL.com reported. Saban, Whisenhunt, and Georgia businessmen Marlan Wilbanks, Lenny Lemoine and Mike Nixon bought into the club after previous owner Terry Stiles died in September.
The Waterfall Club announced the news via its Facebook page, with this message, AL.com reported:
“We are very excited about the new owners and the passion and commitment to the club that they each bring. Nick, Ken, Lenny and Marlan have homes on the lake and they have used and enjoyed the club regularly for the last decade. We believe that our club will thrive and grow in significant ways under this new ownership group.”
The Waterfall Club, located near Lake Burton in extreme northeast Georgia, includes an 18-hole golf course, mountain lodge and sports facility. Saban, an avid golfer, has owned a home for many years on Lake Burton, where he spends part of every offseason, AL.com reported.
Saban’s club venture is part of a growing outside business portfolio for the Alabama coach, AL.com reported. He also owns an interest in a number of Mercedes Benz dealerships, including two in the Birmingham area and one in Nashville.