The Dominion Club has found a suitor.
The owner of the northern Henrico golf and country club said Monday it has accepted an offer from San Diego-based Heritage Golf Group for the sale of the 22-year-old property.
The club’s current owner, local builder and developer HHHunt, said a contract is being finalized and the deal should close in the next 90 days.
Neither side would comment on financial specifics of the deal.
The agreement follows an open bidding process that HHHunt put in place earlier this month to find a buyer. The Dominion Club serves as the centerpiece of its Wyndham community and was in prolonged bankruptcy over member initiation fees in 2011.
Dan Schmitt, president of HHHunt and manager of The Dominion Club, said Heritage Golf was one of six buyers that submitted bids. Bidders included a group of club members that wanted to see Dominion become member-owned. The members’ offer prompted the bidding process.
“We were pleasantly surprised at the level of interest we received,” Schmitt said. “The club business has generally been down in recent years, and you mix in a recession on top of that, you’re just not sure what you’re going to get. But I think they all were impressed with the property and the potential of the property.”
Schmitt said the other offers were from reputable club owners and operators, most of which operate around the Southeast.
Heritage was founded in 1999 and owns seven golf and country clubs. Its properties consist of four courses on Hilton Head Island in South Carolina, two TPC courses in Florida and a course in the suburbs of Houston, Texas.
“They are a very high-end operator,” Schmitt said of Heritage. “They are all about the member experience. We tried to find somebody that we thought would match up well with the club now, and then somebody that could take it to the next level.”
In addition to bringing in an experienced owner to take over the club, the deal with Heritage will likely give some members at least a small piece of what they were promised following club’s bankruptcy.
The club’s Chapter 11 plan included an agreement that would share some of the proceeds with members and creditors, depending on the sales price.
Schmitt said it’s expected that members will receive some of those proceeds.
“With this proposed price, we do expect creditors will benefit from the sale of the club,” Schmitt said. “In terms of what that means is going to be different for a lot of the creditors. It’s nearly impossible to define at this time.”
Gary Dee, an executive vice president at Heritage, said the company is fueled by a private equity backer that allows it to be an active buyer. He said the company typically looks to do between two and four deals a year.
“We see multiple characteristics in our read of the industry that now is a good time to be a buyer,” Dee said. “We think (The Dominion Club) represents an outstanding addition to our portfolio.”
In making the numbers work to produce a healthy return for it and its investors, Dee said Heritage will take advantage of being able to buy in bulk for golf courses necessities – everything “from fertilizer to French fries,” he said.
The company is looking forward to working with Dominion Club members, Dee said. It has experience going into a club as the new owner and going through the transition process with members. Dominion Club currently has 780 members.
“We’re used to working with private club members and used to providing for their wants and needs,” Dee said. “Our pathway to success is happy members and happy guests.”
HHHunt isn’t completely out of the golf game. It will continue to own its nearby Hunting Hawk Golf Club with no plans to sell it, Schmitt said. That property is a public course.