College of The Albemarle is no longer in the golf business and that’s a good thing, says Doug Gardner.
“We are pleased to get COA out of the golf business,” said Gardner, the outgoing president of the COA Foundation Board of Directors.
Gardner was speaking at a ceremony Friday to mark the new ownership of The Pines golf course and country club.
The COA Foundation officially passed ownership of The Pines to its new owners, a partnership between Neal Patel and his wife, Bindu, and Ajay Gupta and his wife, Seema. The deed making the Patels and Guptas the golf club’s new owners is expected to be recorded on Monday.
“We are pretty happy,” said Neal Patel, standing in the sun near one of the golf course’s water hazards.
The partnership’s quest to purchase The Pines for $1 million originated earlier this spring when the COA Foundation began looking to sell it. The foundation took ownership of The Pines in 2017 after it was donated by local businessman Bill Taylor, who owned the facility for several years. The foundation shortly after partnered with the YMCA of South Hampton Roads to manage the facility, particularly the golf course and swimming pool.
Gardner said Friday that the YMCA opted to surrender its ownership back to the foundation after realizing the economic toll the pandemic was putting on its business. Until Friday, COA Foundation had maintained sole responsibility for The Pines since Jan. 1.
Under its new owners, work will begin soon to get The Pines prepared to host golfers and guests.
“Before we start we have to make sure everything is ready,” Patel said.
According to advice from the property management company the partnership has hired, it could be eight to 10 weeks before the club reopens, Patel said. The group has hired Virginia Beach Golf Management Inc., out of Virginia Beach, Virginia, to maintain the facility.
Within that eight- to 10-week window Patel hopes to get the golf course back to basic playing condition so golfers can return soon.
“It’s better than nothing,” he said.
Patel hopes to make quick, but temporary repairs to the greens, and then lay down new Bermuda grass next spring ahead of next summer’s golfing season.
Some of the other immediate work includes updating the greens, performing landscaping on the course and around the main clubhouse, painting, and ordering new golf carts.
The Pines will continue to host receptions and banquets, but Patel said plans also include a new restaurant.
The Pines will operate as a public/private facility but paying members will enjoy extra benefits, Patel said.
“It’s as simple as that,” he said.
Gardner said the foundation was pleased to attract new owners who didn’t have other plans for The Pines.
“We didn’t want to see it become anything else but a golf course and country club,” he said.
Gardner thanked Rick Heckler and other residents who live near the golf course for volunteering to help maintain the property while it was for sale. The residents maintained the grass and parking lot, picked up sticks and limbs from the golf course and did other work to help keep up the property’s curb appeal, he said.
Amy Alcocer, the foundation’s executive director, also expressed thanks to COA President Jack Bagwell, foundation board member Will Norrell and Dennis Smith, head of security for COA.