Southern Oaks Country Club, formerly Jacksonville’s public Foxwood Golf Club, opened as a private club Friday.
A group of Jacksonville investors quickly negotiated a lease-to-purchase contract with golf course owner Ted Belden at the end of March, after the group spent about three weeks actively recruiting members for the private club.
The new Southern Oaks owners are Jacksonville resident Brian Hagewood, owner of Southern Floors & Blinds in Sherwood; former Foxwood golf course superintendent Clark Carroll; Jacksonville dentist Jordan Cooper; Jacksonville attorney Jon Johnson; and Joan Zumwalt, owner of Ace Liquor outside Jacksonville.
Hagewood, who heads the new ownership team, said he and the other owners hurriedly agreed on a lease with Belden so they could open the golf course before they complete the purchase process.
Belden, who is part-owner of the Jacksonville company Lomanco, closed Foxwood Golf Club in December because he had been losing money on the course for years. Belden purchased the golf course in 1989. Local developers built the golf course off Foxwood Drive in the early 1970s.
Hagewood said in February the club would need to sell 200 full memberships to re-open and be re-branded as private.
However, he said Friday the membership drive ended about 50 members short of that goal. With more than 150 full club memberships and approximately 100 social memberships sold, the owners relied on about 20 investors to help make up the difference.
The investors offered to help cover operational costs until the club gets its membership base high enough to be self-sustaining, Hagewood said.
“The investors were the key to getting us open. Without them, it would’ve been extremely difficult,” Hagewood said.
The club opened Friday fully staffed and as a private club, with an upgrade a full restaurant staffed with two cooks, rather than the simple grill the golf course had previously. The cooks are equipped to do in-house catering and banquets, Hagewood said.
“It’s going to be a nicer food menu determined by membership,” Hagewood said. “They’re set up to cook anything.”
The club has a social events committee to plan family nights and other events for members, as well as a tournament and games committee to promote some in-house tournaments and oversee corporate outings.
Hagewood said he has been impressed with the community support the private club has received and is optimistic about the club’s future. He said, in addition to Foxwood’s former faithful golfers, he is seeing golfers flock from Cabot and elsewhere.
The private club, without tee times and without crowds of public golfers, has a distinct appeal to people tired of public courses and steeper membership fees, he said.
“The proof is in the numbers. We definitely did our homework,” Hagewood said. “The private facilities were getting the support.”
Southern Oaks’ initiation fee is $500 and full membership costs $195 per month. Social memberships, which provide access to the clubhouse, restaurant and pool, cost $500 per year and have a $100 initiation fee. Full membership for a golfer under 33 years of age costs $145 per month, with a one-time $250 initiation fee.
Belden said the selling price of the golf club is between him and Hagewood, but he is happy with the deal.
“I’m very pleased,” Belden said. “I think they’ve really put a lot of effort to get things open.”