Terry Stike, a 5 percent owner in the course, said his investor group is hoping it will remain open to golfers, but there are no guarantees.
The rolling hills host dramatic sunsets, Stike said. The land could serve as nice residential lots and the clubhouse has a pool and is already equipped for weddings.
“It has a lot of value other than golf, but I like golf,” he added.
Longtime player Bob Foster said the prospect of losing the course makes him sick, taking breaks as he spoke to squeeze in shots between rain showers on Friday. The 88-year-old still plays the course three times a week —just like he’s been doing since he joined as a charter club member in 1954.
Back then, you had to buy stock in the course in order to play. He said the $250 fee was a lot of money for a young guy like himself, working at the time as a civil engineer at the Radford Arsenal.
Foster said he sold his stake in the club the first time it ran onto hard times in 2002.
After contemplating foreclosure or a sale to Montgomery County, shareholders eventually voted in favor of selling the business to a private owner in 2002.
Stike said the club continued to struggle, and the possibility of an auction crept back up about six years ago.
This time he came to the rescue, pulling together a group of 19 local business people. They formed NRV Golf and Swim Club LLC and bought the property in order to keep the course alive.
But now, the auction seems inevitable.
Stike said the group was looking for a buyer when one of the investors died earlier this year. Because of the nature of his estate, attorneys said a foreclosure auction was the best way to handle the sale.
Stike admitted the business was struggling, as membership has declined from about 300 to 200 since the early 2000s. But he stressed that the foreclosure proceedings are more of a legal formality than anything else.
“I’ve been to the funeral two times and it hasn’t died yet,” longtime member Pete Smyth said as he played a round on Friday. “I hope that it can remain a golf course — but I’m skeptical.”
David Boush, one of the Woltz and Associates auctioneers organizing the sale, said even he is rooting that it will stay a golf course. But it will all depend on how the bidding goes.
Boush said the foreclosure trustees have already filed an application with the county to rezone the property. They’ve also split the 117-acre course up into nine lots.
Woltz will begin by taking bids on each parcel individually. Then, they’ll open it up to whatever lot combinations bidders want to bundle together.
Boush said someone could place a bid for all nine lots in order to buy the whole course and keep the golf club. But that buyer would have to outbid the total of each lot when offered individually. For tax purposes, the course is assessed at just over $1 million.
If the new owners decide to keep the golf course open, they’ll simply have to withdraw the zoning request with the county.
Boush said the auction is tentatively scheduled for Sept. 12, but that’s subject to change.
The Meadows isn’t the first golf course in the region to struggle with stiff competition, declining membership and waning interest in the sport.
The Pulaski Country Club was sold at foreclosure auction in May, after racking up about $1 million in debt. Owners of that club said Pulaski County’s shifting economy contributed to the decline, as local businesses and car dealerships have been replaced with big out-of-town employers.
Membership at the Pulaski course dipped to 125 before the sale.
Prior to that, the Auburn Hills Golf Course in Riner sold at auction for $744,000 in 2016, according to property records.
In Roanoke, meanwhile, all three of the valley’s full-service private country clubs have struggled in recent years with membership declines. Hidden Valley Country Club described its situation as a “cash crisis” in a February letter to its members.
“Money talks,” Foster, the 88-year-old member, said from the passenger seat of a Meadows golf cart on Friday. “If they don’t have the money, they can’t do it.”