Posted on 8/12/2019, by Jack Crittenden at Golf Inc. Magazine
It is a new day at Skybrook Golf Club and the surrounding community in Huntersville, N.C.
The Charlotte-area course was on the verge of closing, and surrounding property owners were worried it would hurt property values by as much as 30%. The club, which had been developed by Bryan Properties and once been one of the gems in the region, had slowly deteriorated under new ownership.
Scott Moore, Skybrook Project Manager for Bryan Properties, said it was slow torture watching one of his company’s properties fall apart.
The owners were out of money and willing to sell to anyone. They distributed a real estate packet offering the facility as a course or separating it into eight parcels of developable land.
Craig Sandhaus, Skybrook HOA President, sprang into action when he learned of their plans.
“We will fight if [the former owners] have to rezone,” he said. “When I saw that packet, I knew I couldn’t let this happen to our community. Developing some of the golf course property and letting the rest go brown would be disastrous.”
Sandhaus rallied together his “dream team” — Bryan and John Coley from Bryan Properties, and David Taylor and Kim Worrel, managing partners at Pinnacle Golf Management, who had been managing the course for the prior two years.
They formed Skybrook Golf, LLC, and bought the club. But it still needed to make improvements to make up for 15 years of neglect. Skybrook Golf, LLC came up with a plan to drastically improve the course including re-grassing the greens to mini-Verde Bermuda and renovating the clubhouse. But to make it happen, it needed the HOA to provide a $150,000 annual subsidy. To get that passed, it needed 75% of the 1,153 residents to approve it.
The team initiated campaign to inform residents about the importance of voting for the subsidy. Skybrook recruited more than 60 block captains to knock on doors. It held community meetings and posted signs to advocate for the golf course as an asset to the community.
The amendment received 80% approval in less then four weeks. Sandhaus said the percentage would have been higher if they hadn’t stopped while they were ahead.
“I have never seen anything like what just happened at Skybrook,” Susan Rouanzion of Cedar Management, which oversees the Skybrook HOA. “This entire community literally came together overnight to support the golf course.”
Taylor was surprised with the positive involvement from the community.
“Skybrook Golf Club has some of the best bones in the area,” he said. “Now, with the HOA support, we can expedite many of the capital improvement projects and recover the course from the years of deferred maintenance. It is a new day at Skybrook, and there is no doubt the course will quickly return to the top ranks in the area.”
Taylor said he hopes Skybrook’s success story will serve as a model for other clubs on the brink of closing.