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Local golf club files for bankruptcy

Michael Schwartz February 20, 2013 2

The course at Prince George Golf Club. (Photos courtesy of Prince George Golf Club)

Another local golf course has gone bankrupt.

Prince George Golf Club, which is behind on its mortgage, filed Monday for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Its bank was set to foreclose on the course Tuesday.

The course will remain open.

The semi-private club, located about 12 miles south of Petersburg, needs more time to work through potential reorganization plans, which could include selling the 100-acre course to a group of investors, said owner Ronnie Kelley. The course will stay open for business during the process, he said.

“I have a pretty good plan, and the only way I have time to do it is file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy,” said Kelley, who also owns River’s Bend Golf Club in Chester.

“It’s not anything I’m embarrassed about. Hopefully it was the right thing to do.”

Virginia Golf LLC, the corporation that owns the 50-year-old public course, lists in its filing assets of between $500,000 and $1 million. It lists a range of one to 49 creditors owed between $1 million and $10 million.

Prince George Golf Club charges $30 for 18 holes on the weekend (cart fee included).

The course’s main debt is $981,000 owed to its main lender, First Community Bank. The bank took over the loan from the former Peoples Bank of Virginia, which First Community bought last year.

“It’s just been a tough stretch of time for golf,” Kelley said. “I got behind on the payments. I’ll take the blame there. The new bank came in, and I was under the impression we were going to work a loan modification.”

Kelley said he got a foreclosure notice about a month ago.

Kelley and his longtime partner, the late Chip Edwards, bought the Prince George course in 1992 for $3.2 million.

“Back then, it seemed like a hell of deal,” Kelley said. “Nowadays you can buy a golf course for $700,000 or $800,000.” The club’s 113 acres are assessed at $1.8 million, according to Prince George County records.

Kelley and Edwards together bought and sold five courses. Edwards died about a year and half ago, Kelley said.

Edwards’s wife now controls his stake in the two courses.

Kelley, 61, knows his way around a golf course. He played for a year at the University of Richmond and then finished his college career playing for Virginia Commonwealth University.

He has since worked at the likes of Country Club of Virginia and has been a head pro at courses including Stonehenge Golf & Country Club.

In the 1990s, he got into the business of owning courses.

In addition to Prince George and River’s Bend, Kelley and partners through the years have owned the Royal Virginian, which they sold for $2.8 million in 2008, the now-defunct Shenandoah Crossing golf course and others.

His two sons, both of whom played golf in college, help manage River’s Bend and Prince George.

Kelley isn’t a complete stranger to golf course bankruptcies.

He said he consulted for lenders as they foreclosed on local courses, including the bankruptcy of the Federal Club.

“All of a sudden, here I am thrown into the other end of the situation,” Kelley said.

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2 Comments »

  1. Jesse February 20, 2013 at 10:31 am - Reply

    If the condition of Prince George is anything like Rivers Bend, no wonder they can’t make ends meet.

  2. Chris Terrell February 25, 2013 at 12:01 pm - Reply

    No one wants to see their course close. The reality is there are too many golf courses and not enough golfers. I hope Prince George turns it around. But in a way I would also like to see a few courses close permanently to improve the lot of those that remain. Until demand returns, only a reduction in supply can cure that ill. In the meantime, never a better time to be a golfer.

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