Conway Golf Club could be sold to homebuilder Beverly Homes within a month based on a ruling this week by Horry County Master in Equity Cynthia Graham Howe.
Howe denied a motion to intervene in a lawsuit involving the club that was filed on behalf of a group of 32 shareholders, and also approved the contracted sale of the nine-hole course.
Her ruling could bring to a close a bizarre final chapter for the third-oldest golf club on the Grand Strand, which has been closed since May.
The club’s small board of directors put the course up for sale late last year. Then former board member Judy Edwards sued the club in March, and former board member Christopher Lloyd Ross was arrested at the course twice over three days in late March for barricading himself in the clubhouse for several hours on March 26 and allegedly breaking into the clubhouse and causing damage on March 28.
Edwards’ lawsuit against the club attempted to dissolve the golf course corporation through a court order.
Edwards, a shareholder and former Conway Golf Club snack bar worker who is listed as the club’s secretary on the sales contract, contended in her suit that the course had debts and liabilities it couldn’t pay and was or would soon be insolvent. A dissolution would have likely resulted in the court taking over the club’s assets and possible sale.
“This result will hopefully prevent the club from filing bankruptcy, and leave a substantial amount of money for the shareholders,” said attorney Douglas Zayicek of the Bellamy Law Firm, who represents the club and its board and acknowledged some shareholders may not be pleased with the court ruling.
“While we understand that disappointment, the club could not survive as a golf course. The ruling from the court benefits all of the shareholders, and prevents a bad situation from getting worse.”
The group of 32 shareholders haven’t determined if they will appeal Howe’s decision, according to Reese Boyd III of Davis & Boyd LLC, the attorney who represents them.
Howe said in her decision it was the court’s intent to allow the sale to be completed and not be delayed should an appeal be filed.
In denying shareholder intervention, Howe ruled the shareholders did not prove they had an interest that was not being adequately represented in the case.
The shareholders represented by Boyd were seeking information from the club’s board regarding shares, shareholders and the sales process, and claim they were denied access to club’s records despite repeated requests. Howe referred to their intervention request as “little more than a fishing expedition.”
“We just want information any shareholder is clearly entitled to both under the bylaws of the club and through South Carolina corporate code,” Boyd said. “We didn’t go into this necessarily with the intent to stop the sale. We just wanted transparency on how it was decided to sell the property and the process.”
Some shareholders have also expressed concern about how shares may have been created, how many have been created and how they have been distributed in recent years.
“Our motion to intervene was aimed at opening up the corporate books and bringing transparency and openness to a story that is both bizarre and shrouded in mystery,” Boyd said. “It has been a bit of a circus.”
In approving the contracted sale, Howe said it “is the best proposal to maximize shareholder equity, for the benefit of all shareholders.”
Beverly Homes is contracted to purchase the 65-acre property.
Court documents show the sales contract is for $2.05 million. Listing realtor Nigel Horonzy of Berkshire Hathaway Myrtle Beach Real Estate said in court papers the offer was the highest of four offers received, and the property was appraised by E.F. Hucks & Associates of Myrtle Beach in April for $1.625 million.
Horonzy said Friday the closing could occur within 30 days.
Howe ordered all net proceeds from the sale be delivered to the court immediately after closing to hold for pending distribution, and said the court will order a plan to identify shareholders and claimants for proper distribution.
Zayicek has estimated there are about 1,500 shares and each could be worth about $1,100 based on the sales price and outstanding debt.
Shares generally sold for between $200 and $600 throughout the years, according to several shareholders.
Beverly Homes, owned by Conway resident and Conway Golf Club shareholder Randy Beverly, estimates the property can accommodate up to 200 single-family homes.
Conway Golf Club was incorporated in the early 1950s, according to club records, and only Pine Lakes Country Club and The Dunes Golf and Beach Club are older among operating courses on the Strand.