ONE of Donegal’s top golf courses could be driven out of business with its new debt holder threatening to close the course later this month.
Members at the Narin and Portnoo course outside Ardara had hoped the take-over proposal would help fire the club out of the rough after it was rescued from the brink of closure last year.
However, in a letter which was circulated to club members last week, Mr Liam McDevitt warned that he would exercise his legal rights and close the Clubhouse/Carpark to the 18-hole scenic links course from Monday, October 23.
The businessman, originally from Ballyshannon but who now lives in Connecticut, purchased the club’s loan book from Cerebus earlier this year after Ulster Bank had transferred it to the US investment firm last year. In August, the members voted for its Captain and Vice-Captain to complete negotiations on their behalf with Mr McDevitt.
Although progress has been made as it relates to the member’s privileges, Mr McDevitt claimed that nothing has been accomplished when it comes to finalising the legal terms that are required for such a transaction in what he admits have been a ‘challenging couple of months’.
Speaking to the Donegal News from America on Friday night, Mr McDevitt said the email that he sent to the Captain and Vice-Captain on October 3rd, 2017 clearly states his position.
“I have nothing further to add,” Mr McDevitt said.
That email, which the Captain and Vice-Captain have since sent to the members, states quite clearly that the businessman is not prepared to underwrite any losses brought about by other people’s actions.
“I can no longer continue down this road of uncertainty with continual interference from the council and majority of the trustees who have demonstrated by their actions that they do not want what most members do.
“Because of this quandary and the timing associated with a smooth transfer I have had to re-evaluate my plans for next year. I am now very concerned about the economic impact this unsureness will have on the Club which will influence the decisions of current members, new members and any other group bookings,” he said.
As a result, Mr McDevitt said that he has had to put on hold a number of plans for the club. These include equipment investment, a marketing plan by Carr Golf, a masterplan prepared by a world renowned Golf Architect and employing the grounds staff over the winter months to complete projects that would enhance the members playing experience.
“It’s unfortunate that a select few are standing in the way to securing the future of Narin & Portnoo Golf Club for years to come. The members are in control of their own destiny and should use the voters of Catalonia as inspiration,” he wrote.
“I am not going to continue with this dysfunctional process and thus am left with no other choice but to divorce myself and my brother from all further negotiations and discussions with the Club. On October 23rd, 2017, I will exercise my legal rights which will result in the immediate closure of the Clubhouse/Carpark.
“Further steps will be taken to secure the remaining 115 acres of land that I have rights too. The facilities will be permanently closed and all commitments/offers made by me in the past will be null and void. All decisions made after this date will have significant cost implications for the members and trustees which will not be forgiven…….it’s with a heavy heart that I make this decision,” Mr McDevitt said.
Mr Kevin Gilgunn, Narin and Portnoo captain, agreed that the issue has taken too long to be resolved and he has called on members to support Mr McDevitt’s plans.
“It’s up to the members to decide again what they want and they’ll get the opportunity to do that in two weeks time (Saturday, October 21) at an EGM at which they’ll decide whether the course stays open or not.“Progress has been made it it’s been slow and it needs to be moved on to the next level in the next week or so. This man had plans to do work on the course this winter and he needs closure. I don’t think it’s in anyone’s interest to close the club,” Mr Kilgun.
The captain also confirmed that the issue will be raised at a meting of the club’s Council tomorrow night, Tuesday.
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