CLIFTON PARK — The scenic and popular 27-hole golf course on Main Street has a new owner.
Amsterdam manufacturing executive Lance Orcutt began the process of acquiring Van Patten Golf Club earlier this month, ending its half-century in the Van Patten family.
The late Robert Van Patten, the prolific mid-20th-century developer sometimes called the father of Clifton Park in its current suburban form, opened the golf course in 1968. His son and daughter-in-law have been running it in recent decades.
Robert Van Patten Jr. said Thursday that it’s time for a new chapter for him and his wife, Kathy. Their children are grown and none opted to take over the business.
“It is kind of sad,” he said. “We’ve owned it in the family 53 years.”
But the sale will give the couple time to do other things. “We want to see our grandchildren, too,” Van Patten Jr. said.
Orcutt is a Saratoga Springs resident and Gloversville native who is co-founder and president of Executive Group, an Amsterdam-based company serving the hospitality industry with custom millwork and casegoods production; warehousing, delivery and installation; and electrical contracting.
The two-man operation founded in 2007 now has one million square feet of floor space and 150 employees.
Orcutt also controls an LLC that purchased and demolished the clubhouse at the Amsterdam Municipal Golf Course and will build a 6,000- to 7,000-square-foot replacement at a cost of up to $2 million.
He’s a golf enthusiast — he plays 15 to 20 rounds a year and wishes he had time for more — but the two golf acquisitions in a single year were a coincidence and were business decisions, not hobbies.
The new clubhouse at Amsterdam Muni will serve as a showroom for the work that Executive Group does in the old mill buildings nearby that it cleaned up and occupies. Representatives of potential hospitality industry clients will get to see firsthand what Executive Group can do, then have a good lunch in the clubhouse showroom before heading back out of town.
Beyond that, Orcutt expects it will turn a profit serving the general public.
Van Patten Golf Club, on the other hand, was a turnkey business with financials that he viewed as a solid investment.
The golf course was never listed publicly — an appraiser who’d worked with Orcutt in the past saw a newspaper article on his purchase of the Amsterdam clubhouse and told the broker managing the Van Patten sale that he thought Orcutt could be a good fit.
“They reached out to me and said, ‘Are you interested in this?’ I said yes,” Orcutt recalled.
Just a week later, he was under contract to buy it.
The club showed a consistent annual profit, he said.
All the things that can take so much time and money to establish and perfect — reputation, customer base, point-of-sale system, trained employees, insurance, vendor relationships — were already in place at Van Patten Golf Club. It even used the same bank and payroll service as Executive Group.
But as much as anything, it was the quality of workmanship and the extent to which the workmanship had been applied that sold Orcutt.
Van Patten Jr. had replaced a utilitarian clubhouse with a 14,000-square-foot clubhouse/pro shop/banquet hall on a plateau at the highest point on the property and run all the utilities underground to it; paved a 3,000-foot driveway up that hill; and added a 240-car lot up there.
The topper? He put granite curbs around the lot.
The details showed a passion for the business, Orcutt said.
“He could have just come in 300 feet and built the same facility,” he said of Van Patten Jr.
“That was insight, that was forward-thinking, that was just really impressive. About 15 minutes into the conversation, I knew we were going in with the full asking price on the property.”
Orcutt’s offer beat others.
He wouldn’t disclose the purchase price, but said it was less than the value of 330 undeveloped acres in Clifton Park.
In 2021 dollars, the money spent turning those 330 acres into a 27-hole course and building a comparable clubhouse also would exceed the purchase price, he said.
Orcutt valued the functional aspects of the business — its people, processes and systems — at $1 million alone.
“We’re buying an organization where all the mistakes have been made, identified and fixed,” he said. “You can’t place a value on that.”
Golfers who come to Van Patten to play a round and guests who come to the banquet hall for a wedding reception might not notice the change of ownership.
“We’re keeping everything the way it is,” Orcutt said.