E.A. Sports Today

Club remains open

Cherokee County CC stockholders approve increasing monthly dues, public greens fees in hopes of staying open

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

CENTRE – Cherokee County Country Club is off the chopping block – for now – and will remain open for business.

Stockholders of the club Monday overwhelmingly approved increases in the member dues, public greens fees and a mandatory assessment due Friday in attempt to keep it open for play on its own.

The stockholders rejected the options of an outright sale and bankruptcy protection and for now are off the table.

“This just keeps us rolling; that’s what they want to do,” board president Brad Beuckens said. “They just want to keep it rolling.”

“Tonight got us on a track that we need to be on to get out of the woods,” board member David Seals added. “Are we out of the woods? No. We are headed in the right direction.”

The club shuttered for one day last week as it assessed the future and reduced the number of carts in its leased fleet.

Club officials said they needed approximately $15,000 a month to break even and believe the increases – with 100 to 125 members – will allow it remain viable with a little working capital to spare. The club is indebted for approximately $350,000.

“We can’t change anything in the past,” Seals said. “We can put band-aids over everything and hope they stick or we can start fresh and get a new track built and get that on track. Our main direction for tonight is what can do from this point forward.”

The board has had “three or four” inquiries about buying the club, including one “very interested” prospect described as a “property owner in the country club” offering to buy it for what is owed and keep it as a country club, but the stockholders and members at Monday’s meeting weren’t interested in selling. They also heard a proposal from immediate past board president Larry Guffey on Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, but rejected it as well.

The proposal approved 34-1 Monday calls for a monthly dues increase to $175 for current cart-owners and $200 for members wishing unlimited cart privileges. Dues would be $125 without a cart program, but carts would be available for $15 for 18 holes. The club has not had a dues increase since 2001, but still has lost about half its members.

Public greens fees would increase to $35 (nearly doubling the current rate), funds that would go towards course improvements. Over the last 15 months the course has taken in nearly $59,000 in greens fees revenue.

There also are plans to begin an aggressive membership drive as well as plans to create non-golfing social memberships.

“We’ve got to get our community to step up and … help us turn this into a country club again,” Seals said. “We as the board can only do so much. I think you saw here tonight the community does care. The members who are investing in our country club, I believe when we get to where we want to go they’ll be rewarded.”

The stockholders are scheduled to meet again April 2 after the board can make an accounting of collections on the 97 outstanding $200 mandatory assessments.

“If nobody pays the $200 come Friday the storm is still brewing,” Beuckens said. “We’ll still be treading water in my mind if nobody pays.”

On the cover: Cherokee County CC board member David Seals (standing) lays out the club’s viability to the stockholders Monday.

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