By William Fowler
Brown 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. 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 Monday, January 30, 2023.
Sapona members bought the course four years ago after NASCAR legend and vineyards owner Richard Childress sold the 172-acre property at 439 Beaver Creek Road 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 for $1.6 million, a quick $400,000 profit. 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.
Brown said 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. 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-square-foot clubhouse has a “unique layout,” and said GreatLife is “looking into what we want to do.”
Brown said GreatLife has hired a general manager from the Triad who will begin soon.
GreatLife was formed in a merger of GreatLife Golf, Bowling & Fitness of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, 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 said that he soon intends to announce management deals for four Triangle courses — 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, Virginia.
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.