Las Vegas Country Club may be going up for sale??

By James DeHaven
Las Vegas Review-Journal
One of the Las Vegas Valley's oldest, most storied golf courses could soon change hands.

Las Vegas Country Club members confirmed Wednesday their 18-hole, member-owned course had been listed with a commercial real estate brokerage firm and would be offered up for sale sometime in the next month.

Mobsters, mayors and movie stars joined the club's ranks in the roughly four decades since it first opened at Desert Inn Road and Maryland Parkway. That list includes crooner Frank Sinatra, famed daredevil Evel Knievel, former Mayor Oscar Goodman and mobsters Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal and Anthony "The Ant" Spilotro.

If sold, the club would count as the third Las Vegas course to take on new owners in the past several months.

The first two, Badlands and Silverstone, were bought by developers who have not ruled out plans to turn part or all of those courses into residential housing.

Las Vegas Country Club General Manager Gordon Digby said there was "zero chance" of similar plans emerging at his club, where he said deed restrictions prevent the course from being converted into anything besides green space.

Digby said 55 percent of the club's roughly 500 members would have to sign off on any transactions arranged by CBRE Las Vegas. The brokers have drawn up a pair of surveys seeking members' input on potential buyers and future plans for the course.

He said members have not ruled out buyers interested in redeveloping 12 of the club's less-restricted acres, including its clubhouse, into condos or commercial space.

That acreage, near the Las Vegas Convention Center and the Westgate Las Vegas, is one of the reasons Digby doubts it will take long to land a buyer.

He and other club members said the course — which holds its own water rights — attracted tentative offers from casino mogul Steve Wynn, as well as a Dubai-based business group, as recently as 2005.

Digby counted the club as one of only three profitable courses in the Las Vegas Valley and said its financial wherewithal did not factor into the decision to put the property up for sale.

Club President Mike Singer agreed.

He said money only played a role in the move insofar as the club's aging membership was unwilling to pony up for a potential $10,200 per-member assessment needed to pay down mortgages on the property.

Singer said home values in the club's gated community range from $300,000 to $2 million. He expects the course will "easily" fetch an eight-figure offer from prospective new owners.

Longtime resident Jim Wade figures members wouldn't part with the club for anything short of $20 million — roughly five times the price paid for Silverstone in September.

"My wife's an avid golfer, so it's going to have to be a high number," Wade said. "This isn't Silverstone, this is an iconic golf course."

Wade, one of an estimated 80 or 90 members who actually live on the course, pointed to a group of Japanese investors as early favorites to buy the property, though he's not sure they or anyone else will be able to sell club members on an ownership change.

Jeff Woolson, one of the brokers responsible for bringing the course to market, said potential buyers include casinos and foreign investors, but likely not housing developers or groups who own other Southern Nevada golf courses.

He expects the property to all but sell itself, perhaps even by the end of January.

"This property is so unique, because of its location and its history," Woolson said. "So pricing is not going to be normal pricing.

"These member equity clubs can be tricky. There's an emotional attachment to the course and sometimes they're not looking for the highest price, but for the best buyer."

Contact James DeHaven at jdehaven@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3839. Find him on Twitter: @JamesDeHaven

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