New owner details plans for Trace Country Club

Jul. 29, 2014 @ 05:02 AM

Carolina Trace Country Club is under new ownership.

Fort Worth-based Escalante Golf, which finalized the acquisition of the Sanford country club last Friday, has a number of changes planned for the clubhouse and the Lake Course, one of the club's two golf courses.

"We're going to start with the Lake Course probably beginning early next year," said Escalante spokesman David Matheson. "We're going to be re-contouring fairways, renovating bunkers, adding new cart paths, lengthening several holes and laser-leveling the tee boxes."

Matheson said Escalante representatives first toured Carolina Trace a few months ago and instantly fell in love with the course, the clubhouse, the community and the area.

"There were just a whole lot of positives," Matheson said. "The golf courses are terrific. The clubhouse is great. The community is world-class."

Matheson said there won't be many personnel changes, but that Esclanate had hired a new general manager for the club, which had previously been run by a rotating board of directors composed of members.

"The members have been doing a great job of keeping it up," said new General Manager Patrick Leahy. "But having a GM adds some stability and simplicity to decision-making. It facilitates stuff. There's just one person to go to. It's consistent. My job is to build stability."

Leahy said he wants to see the club reconnect with the Sanford community and that he hopes to take advantage of a number of community service and goodwill opportunities available in the area.

Matheson made it clear the changes would not be happening overnight, but that he is confident the final product will be well worth the effort.

"We've got a lot of work ahead of us," Matheson said. "it's a big investment on our part, a big commitment. ... But I think [the members] are excited about it. We're excited about it. We're looking forward to working with the members to make [Carolina Trace] one of the gems of the area."

John Kirkman, Carolina Trace resident and former member of the club's board of directors, expressed excitement about the transition.

"I love it," Kirkman said of the change in ownership. "I voted for it. I think it's a great thing. Most of the members thought so too because they overwhelmingly voted for it."

Kirkman said Leahy was enthusiastic and knowledgeable, and that Escalante would bring an expertise in running a country club that the board of directors did not have.

"Being on the board of directors," Kirkman said, "you do a lot of work. Now we can retire again. Now they're going to take over, and we can do the things normal country club members do."

Matheson said that apart from the improvements to the Lake Course, Escalante also would be looking at a number of renovations to the clubhouse, as well as re-landscaping in areas around the club. He said there are also plans to construct a stand-alone fitness center near the club's pool.

Leahy applauded the work of the Carolina Trace staff and said he looked forward to working with them to elevate the club's status as one of the best in North Carolina.

"My job is just to bring more training and more leadership to all aspects of the club," Leahy said. "It's to help the club identify itself as a member of the community. ... I want to see this club be one of the best in the area — something people can be proud of here in the community."

Escalante owns a number of golf properties across eight states. The price of the transaction was not disclosed.