Wealthy members of Loch Lomond Golf Club have been given the go-ahead to buy the luxury resort after two years of negotiations that ended up with legal action being filed and golfers threatening to quit.
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It is understood that each of the 850 members, who already pay a joining fee of £55,000 and an annual subscription of around £4000, will be asked to contribute financially to secure the sale of prestigious club, which is home of the Scottish Open.
While some will pay a nominal amount, others are understood to be planning to invest as much as £200,000 in a deal that follows a similar members’ buy-out at Queen’s Club in London four years ago.
The announcement sounds the death knell on a planned purchase by the De Vere hotel group, which only weeks ago was reported to be close to a deal with an offer of around £35 million for the club, whose members include Sir Sean Connery, Prince Andrew, Walter Smith and Ally McCoist.
The Alternative Hotel Group, which owns De Vere, described the directors’ decision to choose the offer from a committee of members as disappointing but said the company was “not prepared to overpay”.
A statement issued by Loch Lomond Golf Club said: “After careful consideration of all of the offers received, we are pleased to announce that the directors have elected to move forward with an offer put forth by a committee of members on behalf of the membership body of Loch Lomond Golf Club.
“Philip Gund and Stephen Marotta, the directors of the club, will be working with the committee to finalise terms.”
The club, which boasts a course designed by Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish, was bought by US businessman Lyle Anderson in 1994. Control was transferred to a firm of business recovery specialists in 2008 after Mr Anderson was unable to renegotiate debts with the Bank of Scotland, now part of Lloyds.
The possibility of a members’ buy-out was first mooted that year, when a group was formed to attempt to raise an estimated £100m to buy the resort. But as negotiations got under way, De Vere, which owns the neighbouring Cameron House Hotel, emerged as the frontrunner.
It sparked an outcry among members, who feared that a new owner would broaden access to the club and their £55,000 debenture payments would be written off.
In May a group of businessmen lodged a court action in Arizona, seeking an injunction to stop the sale from going ahead and claiming that Lloyds, which has a financial stake in the De Vere group, was guilty of breach of fiduciary and fraud. The court proceedings are likely to be dropped when the members’ buy-out is concluded.
Members, who are believed to have voted unanimously for a buy-out, have already been asked how much they would be willing to contribute and the deal is expected to be concluded within the next month.
The club’s membership has at times been shrouded in secrecy but a list published in 2006 revealed that Sir Jackie Stewart, Sandy Lyle, Nick Faldo and Alan and Robert Wiseman were members. Clint Eastwood is reported to have played the course and Colin Montgomerie married his wife Gaynor at the resort in 2008.
No-one from the members’ committee could be contacted yesterday, but restaurateur and entrepreneur Satty Singh, a member of Loch Lomond Golf Club, welcomed the news that members would be able to own their club.
He said: “I’m glad that the members’ bid has been successful. The members have been part of the club for such a long time, they probably care for the club more than anyone. It is an institution.
“Unfortunately due to the challenges with the Lyle Anderson group, Loch Lomond felt the brunt of that, hence the reason for the present predicament. Going forward with the members being involved there will be a better opportunity for the club not only to succeed but to go on to the next level.”