The golf course company led by former technology entrepreneur John McConnell has acquired its first golf club outside of the Carolinas.
Raleigh-based McConnell Golf announced Monday that it has acquired the Holston Hills Country Club in Knoxville, Tenn., which boasts a course designed by famed architect Donald Ross. The acquisition boosts the number of private golf clubs owned by McConnell Golf to 11; the company also manages a 12th club.
Founder and CEO John McConnell said he wasn’t looking to expand beyond the Carolinas but the Holston club contacted him and persuaded him to look at the property.
“Once I saw the golf course, I knew it was one we wanted,” he said. “This gives us four Donald Ross courses. Nobody has four Donald Ross golf courses.”
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Nor did McConnell rule out buying other courses outside of North and South Carolina. Since news of the Holston deal leaked, he said, his company has fielded calls from a few other country clubs outside the Carolinas that are interested in selling.
“I think a lot of these club don’t want to run them anymore,” he said. “They are actually looking for companies ... to buy them and take them over.”
McConnell said that the Holston course itself is “in supreme shape” but the facility needs a makeover.
“We’ll be making immediate upgrades to the clubhouse, dining rooms, locker rooms, things like that, to bring it more up to date,” he said.
McConnell, who made fortunes twice over as co-founder and CEO of publicly traded Medic Computer and then as an investor and CEO of A4 Health Systems, got into the golfing business in 2003 when he acquired the Raleigh Country Club after it filed for bankruptcy. The company’s other Triangle courses include TPC at Wakefield Plantation and Treyburn Country Club.
McConnell Golf allows members who pay the initiation fee at any one of its clubs to play all of its courses. Its courses were designed by first-rank course architects such as Pete Dye, Tom Fazio and Arnold Palmer.
Despite the company’s latest expansion, McConnell said his focus remains on the Carolinas and that he’s working on a deal to acquire a golf club in Charlotte.