ROCKINGHAM — Richmond Pines Country Club board members Roger Brickhouse and Wayne Barker know the club’s financial situation, but are hoping to find someone able to bail out the troubled 85-year-old course.
The pair said the club is in danger of failing to pay its interest payment to First Fidelity on previous loans and is already behind making a lease payment on its golf carts and lawn care equipment.
Because of the dire ledger book, the members of the RPCC board this past Sunday elected to close the golf course and other amenities until the weekend. Brickhouse and Barker said once the final rounds of golf are played on Sunday, then the future of the Donald J. Ross-designed course will be up in the air.
“We will have a board meeting Monday at 6 p.m. to determine what to do,” Barker said. “We are distributing fliers and information to the surrounding communities around us, Country Club Estates and Pine Lakes, to ask for their support and come to the meeting.”
Brickhouse, the board’s president, said the club has nearly $25,000 in monthly financial obligations, which includes the utility bill, the lease on the golf course’s equipment, loan repayment as well as the salary for one full-time employee and 10 part-time workers.
“We have a lot of people, like Wayne, who is the general manager, that are not getting paid,” Brickhouse said. “Every dime we take in, we spend back on the course. If we don’t have any money in, then we can’t spend any. We don’t have a pro, nobody makes a dime. Our payroll is very limited.”
RPCC currently has 75 members on its books, paying the monthly membership dues of $75. Barker, the board’s secretary/treasurer, said the club generates the additional revenue needed to keep the club open from greens and carts fees, the renting of the club’s ballroom and the sale of beverages and snacks from the bar.
“We have excellent facilities,” Barker said. “The club is an asset to the county and will help attract new industries. If we don’t get assistance from somewhere, the county will lose the golf course. Richmond County will be the only one around here that doesn’t have a country club.”
Brickhouse and Barker said the board members have explored selling the club or making it a public course, but are handcuffed because of the by-laws and the outstanding shares of stock RPCC used to issue to its members.
“We think there is somewhere between 1,000 and 1,200 shareholders out there,” Barker said. “We have tried to get a quorum. We sent out letters and 120 responded, a lot were returned because they were unable to be delivered. Without a quorum, we can’t sell the club or change the by-laws.”
Without the needed majority of shareholders to vote on any changes, the pair said it leaves the board only two options — going into foreclosure or filing a lawsuit.
If the board decides to file a lawsuit to get the outstanding shares of stock under the control of an attorney, Barker and Brickhouse feel the end result may not be in the best interest of the club or its members.
“We would have to advertise that we are calling for a vote,” Barker said. “The process could take six to eight months and cost $50,000 to $60,000. Even then, they may not decide to sell it because they don’t think the price is enough.”
Brickhouse thinks the fastest path to a new owner for the club is foreclosure. He said he would recommend turning the keys to the course over to the bank money and failing to meet its financial obligations and letting the bank put the course up for sale. Barker added this scenario would not require a shareholder vote on the sale because it would belong to First Fidelity.
“Pending divine intervention, we will not be open after Sunday,” Barker said. “Unless something drastic comes out of Monday’s meeting, there is no way for us to continue putting a band-aid on the problems. We are only delaying what will happen in two or three months.”