The sale of its 12 golf courses and a plethora of other assets this week to the Chinese ownership company Founders Group International did not result in the demise of National Golf Management.
The company, which was formed by a merger in March 2012 of most of the golf-related assets of Myrtle Beach National Co. and Burroughs & Chapin Golf Management, endures as a now small business re-branded as Strand Golf Management that is managing operations at two courses formerly run by NGM.
Strand Golf Management has assumed the lease and management contracts at Arcadian Shores Golf Club and Waterway Hills Golf Links and expects to manage those properties for the foreseeable future.
It is also assisting with the management of Blackmoor Golf Club until the course’s management contract with NGM expires at the end of June and its owners decide on its future strategy.
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They are three of the five courses NGM operated through lease and/or management contracts in addition to the 12 it owned and sold.
Farmstead Golf Links and Meadowlands Golf Club – sister courses near the S.C./N.C. border owned by the McLamb family – have opted to be self-managed and join East Coast Golf Management’s growing cooperative marketing group.
Strand Golf Management has retained NGM’s board of directors that is chaired by former B&C board chairman J. Egerton Burroughs and features former B&C and Myrtle Beach National officials, including members of the influential Brittain family. NGM president and chief executive officer Bob Mauragas has retained those titles with the new company.
Mauragas, 54, was hired by Myrtle Beach National in May 2011 when the company was anticipating expansion. At the time he was the vice president of golf operations at the six-course Reynolds Plantation outside Greensboro, Ga.
“Right from the outset working with the B&C and Myrtle Beach National companies has been a fabulous experience,” Mauragas said Friday. “They’re very large and cornerstone families at the beach. It’s not about the scope of the company it’s about the people I work for, and I came committed to them and stay committed to them.”
Both Arcadian Shores and Waterway Hills are strong candidates for redevelopment in the future.
Arcadian Shores is owned by B&C and Mauragas said it is operated through an annual lease. Waterway Hills was recently purchased by LStar Management, owner of the Grande Dunes development, and Mauragas said that 27-hole course’s lease expires at the end of June.
“After that we’re working on a management contract with LStar,” Mauragas said. “Our shareholders have been in negotiation with LStar Group, and they’re asking us to put together a proposal to manage the property for an undetermined amount of time.”
Blackmoor general manager Bob Zuercher said his course, which is owned by multiple families including the Brittains and Creels, will use the time before the current management contract expires to determine a course of action.
“It’s really too early to tell,” Zuercher said. “We’re just beginning to look at opportunities and options that are available here on the Grand Strand. I could not tell you where we’re going at this point.”
Mauragas said Strand Golf Management intends to seek management opportunities both in and out of the Myrtle Beach market, and should be able to utilize B&C’s corporate relationships in the southeast as well as Brittain Resorts’ 10 hotel/condotel properties and Myrtlebeachgolf.com website and package company to expand.
“Even though we lost a large part of the nucleus of our company, we feel confident we can look to our parent company to use their expertise to grow our business,” Mauragas said. “We think we can strike up conversations in a number of different areas if our board wants to regrow this company.
“… If there’s anyone who needs additional management services or help we can certainly do that for them.”
The company is still getting its traction in the wake of NGM’s massive sale to Founders Group International, which made FGI by far the largest course ownership group on the Strand with 22 courses.
“I think we’re going to let the dust settle a little bit from the recent acquisition of the Founders Group,” Mauragas said. “We’re happy where we are. We think we made a great choice with the sale of the properties to Founders Group. They’ll bring a lot of new energy and new capital to the area.”
The addition of Farmstead and Meadowlands gives East Coast Golf Management 22 courses in its marketing cooperative, including four that it manages. The coop has also recently added International Club of Myrtle Beach and Wachesaw Plantation East, which ended a management agreement with NGM in January.
“We’re excited about the opportunity with those four courses,” East Coast president Mike Buccerone said. “It helps us with golf course packages with more courses to offer, and Indigo Creek, Wachesaw and International Club creates a nice golf package on the south end of the beach.”
East Coast manages Indigo Creek, Rivers Edge Golf Club, Azalea Sands Golf Club and Kings Grant in Fayetteville, N.C.
Also included in its coop are River Oaks, Beachwood, Eagle Nest, Diamond Back, Black Bear, Brunswick Plantation, Sandpiper Bay, Brick Landing, Carolina National, Crow Creek, two courses at The Pearl, Cape Fear National and Masonboro Country Club outside Wilmington, N.C.
Company executives include experienced course operators in director of sales Gene Weldon, director of operations Dave Harbaugh and vice president Chuck Hutchison. The company offers a Platinum Golf Membership that includes discounted rates at all courses in the coop and a $100 gift card for $129 annually.
“We had to be proactive and do some forward thinking to make sure we had some kind alignment with somebody, and East Coast was a no-brainer,” Farmstead and Meadowlands GM Jason Monahan said. “What they’ve done with that portfolio since 2011 is great. They’re really strong on the north end. It was an easy decision for us. They’re a perfect fit for us.”