The 51-year-old Valleybrook Golf and Country Club was sold at an auction on Thursday morning to local businessman Henry Luken, who plans to continue the acreage as a golf course.
“This course is about to go back to a private course very shortly,” Mr.
Luken said after the roughly 15-20-minute bidding on the property was completed.
His purchase price was $950,000 (plus 6 percent sale commission), much lower than the $2 million price that the Potts Brothers land and auction company started the bidding.
Dozens of people - from longtime Valleybrook golfers and subdivision residents to interested buyers - packed the historic casual dining room of the clubhouse for the event, which drew multiple bidders.
Mr. Luken – who also stayed around to bid on some of the course and clubhouse fixtures and equipment – thinks Valleybrook can have a bright future.
“This is a good old golf course,” he said. “It just needs a little TLC (tender loving care).”
As far as future changes, Mr. Luken, who also owns the local Battlefield, Eagle Bluff and Montlake courses, said he planned to get some of his golf course maintenance staff to look at Valleybrook before making any decisions. But he imagined he would be using more chemicals to improve the grass.
He said the sale closing would be within 30 days, and he hopes to have the course looking good by next spring.
He also planned to look at remodeling the clubhouse interior and putting a new façade on the structure, which was built in the modernist style of architecture that was popular in the early 1960s.
“It’s a fine building,” he said. “It’s just dated.”
Among those glad to see Valleybrook remain a golf course is Debbie Walker Mayfield, a former local champion golfer. She grew up playing the course and now lives in her parents’ former home along No. 6 fairway.
“The Drakes created an extremely wonderful place and I’m delighted the golf course is going to continue,” she said shortly after the course bidding was completed. “We’re going to have a Renaissance in Valleybrook.”
County Mayor Jim Coppinger, a Valleybrook resident and member who also attended the event, was also happy both personally and for the Hixson community.
“It alleviates the uncertainty of what’s going to happen to the club,” he said. “It brings some stability to not only the neighborhood, but also to the community.”
The course bidding moved slowly at the start. After auctioneer Ben Potts started at $2 million, someone soon offered $500,000, so the bidding slowly went up from there. About four other workers from Potts Brothers quickly moved around the cramped room trying to encourage bidders.
The auction occurred after current owners David Drake, Nancy Donelson and Carolyn Sneider – the children of Carl Drake, one of the original owners -- decided to break up the corporation that runs Valleybrook and go their separate ways financially. As a result, a court-ordered auction was held.
David Drake, who attended the auction, said he was hoping for a better price.
“After taxes, we’ll end up with nothing,” he said. “It wasn’t the way I wanted to sell it, but I didn’t have any choice.”
Mr. Drake was also a little nostalgic, saying he remembers coming into the development on a dirt road back in 1959 when the plans for Valleybrook were in the early stages.
However, he feels at peace about the future.
“The Lord’s telling me to do something else with my time,” he said.
Mr. Drake’s late father and several other businessmen had opened the course in 1962.
The development was considered one of the first in the country to have homes running throughout the course.
The lots were originally sold separately, although the original corporation partners built many of the homes beginning in the early 1960s.
The homes are still privately owned and were not connected to the auction.
The Valleybrook course was also private for several decades but in recent years has been opened for play by the public as well.