Chesterton Tribune

Centier takes possession of The Brassie; golfing will go on as normal

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Centier Bank is currently the new owner of The Brassie Golf Club after the man who built it, George Middleton, “decided to walk away” from the business this summer.

Centier took possession of The Brassie on July 15, the club’s PGA pro, Duane Borcherding, told the Chesterton Tribune on Monday.

Centier has contracted with GolfVisions of North Lake, Ill., to manage The Brassie until a new owner is found, Borcherding said. In the meantime, “Operations will continue as normal.”

A combination of factors led to Middleton’s decision to quit, not the least of which is the “fatal blow” struck by the “economic downturn” to golf clubs across the country, Borcherding noted. “Golf, unfortunately, is an expensive sport even at the low end and it demands time that people struggle to justify spending.”

Even so, Middleton—who operated golf clubs as well in Indianapolis and in Houston and Austin, Texas—arranged with Centier in the winter of 2010 to adjust the mortgage on The Brassie. “The adjustments looked very doable and a nice winter of revenue had everyone optimistic,” Borcherding said.

But as Borcherding also observed, golf is heavily weather dependent and the spring of 2011 “by everyone’s account was the worst ever. Not the worst in a few years, the worst ever.”

“When that revenue is gone, there is no way to rebound even with favorable weather for the rest of the season,” Borcherding said. “After an extremely poor April and May, by the middle of June the writing was on the wall.” In quick succession Middleton lost three courses “and then decided to walk away from The Brassie effective July 15.”

“Mr. Middleton was a very successful businessman who loved golf but golf didn’t love him back,” Borcherding said.

A Centier spokesperson declined to speak about its control of The Brassie, citing policy “not to comment on any banking relationships we have with our clients.”

Borcherding is strongly optimistic about The Brassie’s future. “With a new dynamic in place, the golfers at The Brassie and Owner No. 2 will be in a nice position to see additional moneys spent on the course, in the operation, and in promotions,” he said. “Without a mortgage and interest in place, the operational profits will be driven back into the operation by the bank with the help of management company GolfVisions.”

GolfVisions operates 17 facilities in Chicagoland and Florida and has “much access to resources, labor, and a wealth of knowledge and experience with golf facilities of varying types,” Borcherding added.

Under GolfVisions’ management, the transition has been seamless, Borcherding said. “Membership and golf ticket packages are in place. The outing schedule and golf tournament schedule are filling up fast and will be finalized over the winter months. All golf programs, policies and procedures, and staffing are being renewed with everyone looking forward to spring and taking advantage of the optimism that is in place for the golf industry and the regional economy.”


Posted 11/15/2011