Michigan private clubs selling to local investors

A pair of Grand Rapids, Mich., area member-owned private clubs appear likely to be sold to local investors, a development viewed as a positive trend by other struggling private clubs in Michigan.
Sunnybrook Country Club members have approved the club’s purchase by the Watermark Group, composed of local investors who also own Watermark Country Club and StoneWater Country Club in the region. Another Grand Rapids club, Railside Country Club, is also considering an offer to buy the club from club member Jim Engen.
In both cases, the clubs would remain private, although the Watermark business model calls for the golf and swimming facilities to be member-only, but the club’s dining and catering activities would be open to the public.
No purchase price offer was announced for the proposed Railside acquisition, but Watermark has confirmed that it is assuming debt of more than $2.1 million and has pledged $500,000 for remodeling at Sunnybrook.
Another area club, Egypt Valley Country Club, had also been reported to be in financial straits, but members recently reached a three-year agreement with their bank to avoid a Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization filing. A new business plan implemented by the club’s general manager, Bo Picklesimer, has made marked improvements in the club’s prospects at the 36-hole facility.


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