The Pine Brook Golf Club will open again next season as a public facility and under the operation of the same landscaping company that ran the nine-hole golf course this year.
Blasper Inc. will lease the golf course from the nonprofit corporation Pine Brook Golf Club for one year, said Don Blanchard, co-owner of Blasper with Jim Esper. He said terms of the agreement will be signed later this month. The lease is for a nominal fee.
Under the proposed agreement, Pine Brook Golf Club will remain responsible for paying the mortgage and city taxes but will allow Blanchard to keep revenues from greens fees, cart rentals and memberships. Under a separate agreement, Blanchard will operate the club’s restaurant under a corporation called Debco.
Both the golf course and restaurant are closed for the season.
Pine Brook club President George Ringland said NBT Bank is agreeable to the arrangement with Blanchard. “If it is not run, the value goes down. If the building is left vacant, it deteriorates quickly and no one is repairing anything. If the golf course is not maintained, it becomes a field,” he said. “At least this way the value is maintained and it is used.”
The bank’s cooperation is key as the club is behind on payments to NBT on a $325,000 loan taken out in February 2010, and it also owes the Fulton County Economic Development Corp. about $50,000. Both mortgages are secured by the corporation’s primary assets — the golf course and on-site restaurant.
The bank can foreclose on the property but has yet to do so, Ringland said. “NBT has issued demand letters to pay in full but has not moved forward,” he said. “We had expected something would happen long before this, and it hasn’t, and we have moved forward.”
Pine Brook turned to Blanchard to run the golf course as a way to stave off foreclosure and to allow it time to work with the bank on repayment. The club has had a long-term relationship with Blanchard’s landscaping company, which has maintained the golf course’s greens. If Blanchard had not taken over the golf course, the club would closed it last year, and that would have triggered clauses in its deed.
Ringland said nearly a year later, nothing has changed regarding the club’s financial the situation and that it still has no money to pay the bank.
Blanchard said he had a good year at Pine Brook, raising membership to 180 people from its low of 98. He added he has yet to make money on the golf course operations but hopes to do better next year.
Under Blasper’s control, the golf course opened last year for the first time as a public facility. Before that, it was a closed membership organization going back to its founding some 89 years ago.
Ringland said the club’s board has also had discussions with Nathan Littauer Hospital over the future of the golf course. The hospital is next in line under the deed to take over the golf course should the club close it. He said the hospital considers the golf course an asset but does not want to run it. “They are still in the picture and are amenable to the agreement [with Blanchard],” he said.
Under deed covenants, the city of Gloversville had right of first refusal in taking over the golf course had the club closed it. The city would have had to operate it as a public golf course at its own expense, however. The city last year passed a resolution stating it will not pursue any ownership rights should they become available, citing its own financial problems.
Blanchard closed his longtime Gloversville restaurant, The Railyard, to focus on the Pine Brook venture. That restaurant reopened this month under a lease he has with his chef. He is offering gift certificate promotions between the two restaurants.