The sale of the Woodlands Country Club to Clublink Corporation is almost a done deal. On Tuesday, the equity members of the Woodlands Country Club met with executives of Clublink to hear more about the sale. An equity member has the type of membership that is on the upper tier, price-wise. They pay the most amount of dues, as well as assessments, to keep the club running. A few of these members have been with the Woodlands since it opened back in 1969. Equity members are the only ones that get to vote on this sale.
President Larry Torn opened the meeting and was joined by John Finlayson, SE Region Manager of Clublink; Daniel Lambert, Director of Sales; and Robert Miller, Executive Director of Operations and Member Services as well as Woodlands Attorney Pamela Anselmo with Becker & Poliakoff who was instrumental in negotiations.
Larry Torn explained to the members that the sale must go through before April 22. If the sale were to take place after the 22nd, tax bills will be due and additional costs will be incurred.
If the sale goes through, Clublink will own all assets of the Woodlands Country Club, and will also assume all debts. Unfortunately, since the club has been cash-strapped over the years, equity members will make no money on the sale. This is agreeable for many equity members since they were hit with an assessment last year of several thousand dollars.
After Larry Torn spoke, he introduced John Finlayson who talked about Clublink and then took questions from the audience.
Clublink is a 17-year-old public company based in Ontario, Canada. They operate a number of golf courses all over the Toronto and Montreal areas. In September of 2010, they bought 8 courses in Sun City, Florida and in October, they bought Heron Bay in Parkland. They currently have 42 courses total.
Finlayson said the first thing Clublink will need to do after buying the club is to address the golf course conditions. Finlayson explained that Heron Bay was not in good condition, however, since October, it has greatly improved and invited all members to come golfing at Heron Bay these next two weeks to see the improvements.
He explained that ClubLink’s business model is that they cluster courses together for reciprocal access. “This enables a variety for golfers. It has been successful in Toronto and hopefully it will be successful here.”
Torn said that if this sale doesn’t go through then the club would not have enough money to operate after May and would have to be closed for the summer. The good news is that if the purchase does go through, Clublink will keep the country club open all summer and they will continue to serve dinners there as well.
One member asked if the staff will still be employed. Finlayson said they are hopeful to find everyone a position once the purchase goes through but to remember that they are a public company answering to their shareholders, so they must operate in a prudent manner and move forward to operate profitably.
Current club members don’t have to worry about their paid memberships not being honored as nothing will change for 2011 and possibly 2012.
Jack Talabisco asked if they would elaborate on how they get new members. Finlayson answered, “Clublink drives new memberships with the opportunity of reciprocal play. We have great playing conditions and we pride ourselves with great courses and a high level of service.”
Clublink will have an experienced salesperson at the Woodlands that will sell corporate events and memberships. There is a great opportunity to have corporate events in South Florida and these events attract a big part of their business.
Since memberships are down at the Woodlands Country Club, in order to operate and stay viable, Clublink may have to allow public play for a time until the membership increases.
It sounds like the sale could be the “win-win” relationship the country club needed. Residents should be happy that the beautiful clubhouse the 2-18 hole courses are being sold to an experienced golf corporation, instead of a land developer.