CAROLINA SHORES, N.C. — An investment company registered in Delaware has a lease agreement with an intent to purchase Carolina Shores Golf & Country Club that will bring an end to Cary, N.C., developer Mike Matheny’s tumultuous decade of course ownership and operation in the area.
Matheny owned two courses that went through two Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganizations together, and he had squabbles with homeowner associations at both.
A development company headed by Myrtle Beach resident Van Watts entered into a lease-purchase agreement with Matheny last month for Colonial Charters Golf Club, which has a soft reopening for residents scheduled this weekend. That course was redesigned for partial redevelopment in 2008 and its name was changed to Palmetto Greens Golf & Country Club for five years.
Matheny did not want to comment Wednesday on his tenure as a Strand course owner, other than to say: “I’m just out, and that phase of my life is over and I’m moving on.”
The company Lune De La Maison is leasing the course, and Philippe Bureau, who has been Carolina Shores’ general manager since April 2011, is the company’s area golf director and will continue to manage the 6,755-yard Tom Jackson design, which opened in 1974.
Lune De La Maison was incorporated in late February and Bureau said Carolina Shores is its first golf venture, and the lease-purchase agreement is through Matheny and New Peoples Bank. The company’s partners and officers are not listed in incorporation papers, and Bureau said they did not wish to be contacted.
“It’s my understanding [Matheny and the bank] have come to a mutual agreement and the bank will be selling the course,” said Bureau, a past general manager of multi-course facilities Sea Trail Resort and Ocean Ridge Plantation. “Carolina Shores is a nice golf course. It’s not an expensive golf course to run. It is priced attractively for them, so they believe they can make this work.”
Carolina Shores’ combined green and cart fees are generally between $29 and $59, depending on the time of year. As the course improves, “the heavy discounts will become less and less frequent,” Bureau said. “That’s if we do our part and increase the value of what a round of golf is at Carolina Shores.”
In the next few years, Bureau envisions several improvement projects that will include new bunker sand and drainage, leveled tee boxes, cart path repairs, drainage repairs, a new irrigation system, and the continuation of a tree project with the approval from the town of Carolina Shores. Bureau said about 600 trees have been removed around six holes and another 600 are earmarked for removal on other parts of the course.
“There is going to be an infusion of steady cash flow that will allow us to operate and maintain the golf course and start working on the projects,” Bureau said. “It will be nice to be able to finally maximize the potential of Carolina Shores and what it can be. … Anyone who comes in now will see dramatic improvements in the playing conditions over the past month.
“And you’ll see us out in the marketplace more often with better advertising and more marketing, creating more value for our customer.”
Bureau said Carolina Shores’ membership dipped below 70 members in 2011 after area homeowners became disgruntled but is back up to 275, and 2013 memberships are being fully honored. “We’re hoping that those who live in the community who have not been to Carolina Shores for years will come back to visit and give us an opportunity to see if a membership here would meet their needs,” Bureau said.
“There was tension at times … with the previous owner and the entire golf community in Myrtle Beach. We’re going back and repairing those [relationships] and slowly but surely we’re going to get Carolina Shores back where it needs to be. There has been a lot of hurt feelings over the past 10 years we will repair with everybody. There’s not a segment in the golf business we’re not going to do a little repairing with – it includes vendors, package providers, small groups, charities, members and communities.”
In 2002, Matheny purchased both Carolina Shores and Colonial Charters and acquired the lease to Cypress Bay Golf Club.
The courses’ first bankruptcy case in 2003-04 was attributed to old debt and operating losses and included the Cypress Bay lease, which Matheny surrendered during the case.
The second bankruptcy in 2009-10 was attributed to the courses being used as collateral for Matheny’s failing Palmetto Greens Development Co., which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the spring of 2009, followed by the courses’ Chapter 11 filing.
“We’re making improvements now and fixing things,” Bureau said, “but there’s a long list of projects that have to be completed at Carolina Shores to get it back to where it is of real value.”
Contact ALAN BLONDIN at 626-0284.