NEW CASTLE, Colorado - Warrior Custom Golf of Irvine, Calif., has purchased the Lakota Canyon Golf Club, the 18-hole golf course and upscale housing development in New Castle.
Walter Bolen, director of investments for Warrior Custom Golf, was at the Lakota clubhouse Friday buying a new pair of golf shoes. The purchase of the golf club - and the shoes - is the company's first foray into the Colorado golf market, Bolen said.
Warrior Golf was originally formed to build custom golf clubs, and now owns Lakota and a dozen other golf courses in California, Texas, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida.
"Lakota fits our goal for geographic diversity, it represents a tremendous value, and it's a beautiful golf course. We've got a great opportunity over the next several years with the real estate development," Bolen said.
He said Brendan Flaherty, founder and CEO of Warrior, initially tried to develop a golf course project from scratch in Riverside County, Calif.
"We discovered it was a lot easier to buy golf courses than to build them," Bolen said. "Lakota is our 13th acquisition."
Warrior purchased Lakota from Alpine Bank, which foreclosed on the development a year and a half ago, Bolen said. He declined to disclose the purchase price.
The company had been looking at Lakota for the past couple of years, he said.
"Finally the price got to the right number, and we pounced," he said.
"We bought Lakota with the goal of making the golf course into something much better than it is today," said Flaherty in a press release. "It has the key features and qualities to become a destination golf resort."
The sale went through a court-appointed receiver, Cordes and Co. of Greenwood Village. Mike Staheli, a Cordes managing director, has been managing the club during the time it has been in receivership, with Ryan Parr serving as the onsite general manager.
Cordes will continue to manage the club through August, and then Warrior will take over, Bolen said.
He had high praise for Lakota's staff and said no personnel changes are planned.
"Normally what we have done is to keep the people who are there, assess the staff and make changes as appropriate," Bolen said. "There's a pretty good staff here now. Lakota was just ranked one of top 100 public golf courses in the state."
Warrior executives plan to meet with the New Castle Town Council on Tuesday evening to get acquainted.
Bolen said the company will be investing in the property and making changes, but will take at least a month to develop a plan and priorities.
In the press release, Flaherty described an overall company business strategy focused on using its nationwide database to draw "cost-conscious players" to play at its clubs, tying promotional perks back to its golf club manufacturing.
The company has spent nearly $50 million in the past few years buying the 13 golf properties with their associated commercial and real estate development interests. A key to Warrior's success has been its ability to avoid the lending market, said Bolen.
"We are not in this for the short term," Flaherty said. "We feel that as long as we avoid leverage and loans, while utilizing the array of assets we have available to us that other course owners don't have, we should achieve a solid return as long as we stay the course."