Ironhorse Country Club feels economic pinch

As the economy continues to struggle, even the country club set is beginning to feel the pinch. In the past month, I have talked to members at 3 other local clubs and they all told me the clubs are struggling to deal with the downturn in the economy. When I owned my own business and worked in one of the most prestigious of these clubs, I would have occasion to talk with many members. What comes to light is not how much money you have, but your exposure, or risk.

Here is some news from the local Palm Beach Post on Ironhorse Country Club.

A West Palm Beach country club community Ironhorse is suffering from waning memberships and financial turmoil is considering selling out to private investors, including veteran oilman Thomas O’Malley.

Ironhorse Country Club spent about $3.5 million renovating its Arthur Hills-designed golf course in 2006, but has since seen its members dwindle to about 200.

Bob Naples, president of the member-owned club, said club bylaws call for 350 members, but that the club could probably get by with about 300.

Annual dues for a full golf membership are $5,900 for a family and $5,400 for an individual, according to the Ironhorse Web site.

Naples wouldn’t go into the specifics of the club’s fiscal bind, but minutes to a November town hall meeting reveal there have been discussions of filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and privatizing. Foreclosure was on the table at some point, but was ruled out, according to the minutes.

Ironhorse, at Bee Line Highway and Jog Road, has about 325 homes, which range in price between about $300,000 to $1 million. Ironhorse was sued in 2005 for requiring residents to become club members.

The mandatory membership fees were struck down by a Palm Beach County Circuit Court judge, but the decision was appealed by Ironhorse. The case is currently under review in Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal.

My note: Ironhorse is one the communities around here that offers expansive common areas with a very mature landscape. Its a great place to play golf and is much closer in town than IBIS. I have played in 2 golf tournaments there recently, enjoyed both…especially winning one!

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