Golf course lands in the hands of pros

The 260-acre Independence Golf Course. (Photo by Michael Schwartz)

The 260-acre Independence Golf Course. (Photo by Michael Schwartz)

The sale is in the bag.

Independence Golf Club was sold last week in a deal that moves the 12-year-old Midlothian course under the wing of a company with decades of experience in the sports management business.

The 260-acre daily fee course was acquired by Pros Inc., a locally based company led by Giff Breed. The firm, which took over the course effective Oct. 1, has been in and out of the business of representing pro golfers and other athletes and now has its own course to play with.

It purchased Independence from the VSGA Foundation, whose mission is to foster amateur and junior golf in the state.

Giff Breed

Giff Breed

Independence opened in 2001 as the centerpiece of the surrounding Founders Bridge residential development. It features an 18-hole course and a nine-hole short course. The club was founded with the help of benefactors such as Richmonders E. Clairborne Robins Jr. and Harry Easterly Jr.

“We are very honored to be the stewards of the vision that was set out by the founders years ago,” Breed said Monday. “We look forward to trying to bring the course to the next level.”

Breed would not say how much Pros paid for the club. The course is in both Powhatan and Chesterfield counties, and property records for the club’s real estate at 600 Founders Bridge Drive have not updated.

Breed is a University of Richmond graduate and member of Kinloch Golf Club. The sport seems to run in the Breed family. His brother, Michael Breed, is a host on the Golf Channel and runs a golf academy out of New York. They are natives of Greenwich, Conn.

Breed said it’s too early to get into Pros’ specific plans for the club. But part of the plan is to take advantage of the non-golf amenities at Independence to drive more revenue, he said.

The course, for example, has dorms onsite that have the potential to host more than just golf camps. And its grounds, which include a 22,000-square-foot clubhouse known as the Charles House, could be the setting for more gatherings such as a July 4 celebration, Breed said.

Officials at the VSGA Foundation did not return calls seeking comment on the sale. The foundation is headquartered on the grounds of Independence.

John Farrell, who handles sales of residential lots at Founders Bridge, was pleased at the news of a new owner.

“I think it’s a good thing for everybody,” Farrell said. “[Breed] recognized the value, and he’s going to continue to take advantage of what he’s got. I’m excited from my perspective because I know the value will be maintained and will probably be made even better.”

The club has been an important piece in selling homes at Founders Bridge. The subdivision will have 402 homes once it’s fully built out. It has about 55 lots left to build on, Farrell said.

“It’s one thing to have a single-family residential development,” he said. “When you have something like [Independence], it creates a lot more value.”

With the recession taking a heavy toll on the golf course industry nationwide, Richmond’s glut of clubs has felt its share of pain in recent years.

That has led to sales, mergers, bankruptcies and foreclosures for area courses.

The Club at Viniterra, a 225-acre course that was part of a grand vision of a winery community in New Kent County, was sold in late 2012 to a South Carolina firm.

Lake Chesdin Golf Club, a 14-year-old golf course in southern Chesterfield, was acquired from a Canadian firm in the spring and then merged into Meadowbrook Country Club.

And both Prince George Golf Club and River’s Bend Golf Club are stuck in Chapter 11 bankruptcy as their owner works out a deal to pull the properties out of debt.

The 260-acre Independence Golf Course. (Photo by Michael Schwartz)

The 260-acre Independence Golf Course. (Photo by Michael Schwartz)

The sale is in the bag.

Independence Golf Club was sold last week in a deal that moves the 12-year-old Midlothian course under the wing of a company with decades of experience in the sports management business.

The 260-acre daily fee course was acquired by Pros Inc., a locally based company led by Giff Breed. The firm, which took over the course effective Oct. 1, has been in and out of the business of representing pro golfers and other athletes and now has its own course to play with.

It purchased Independence from the VSGA Foundation, whose mission is to foster amateur and junior golf in the state.

Giff Breed

Giff Breed

Independence opened in 2001 as the centerpiece of the surrounding Founders Bridge residential development. It features an 18-hole course and a nine-hole short course. The club was founded with the help of benefactors such as Richmonders E. Clairborne Robins Jr. and Harry Easterly Jr.

“We are very honored to be the stewards of the vision that was set out by the founders years ago,” Breed said Monday. “We look forward to trying to bring the course to the next level.”

Breed would not say how much Pros paid for the club. The course is in both Powhatan and Chesterfield counties, and property records for the club’s real estate at 600 Founders Bridge Drive have not updated.

Breed is a University of Richmond graduate and member of Kinloch Golf Club. The sport seems to run in the Breed family. His brother, Michael Breed, is a host on the Golf Channel and runs a golf academy out of New York. They are natives of Greenwich, Conn.

Breed said it’s too early to get into Pros’ specific plans for the club. But part of the plan is to take advantage of the non-golf amenities at Independence to drive more revenue, he said.

The course, for example, has dorms onsite that have the potential to host more than just golf camps. And its grounds, which include a 22,000-square-foot clubhouse known as the Charles House, could be the setting for more gatherings such as a July 4 celebration, Breed said.

Officials at the VSGA Foundation did not return calls seeking comment on the sale. The foundation is headquartered on the grounds of Independence.

John Farrell, who handles sales of residential lots at Founders Bridge, was pleased at the news of a new owner.

“I think it’s a good thing for everybody,” Farrell said. “[Breed] recognized the value, and he’s going to continue to take advantage of what he’s got. I’m excited from my perspective because I know the value will be maintained and will probably be made even better.”

The club has been an important piece in selling homes at Founders Bridge. The subdivision will have 402 homes once it’s fully built out. It has about 55 lots left to build on, Farrell said.

“It’s one thing to have a single-family residential development,” he said. “When you have something like [Independence], it creates a lot more value.”

With the recession taking a heavy toll on the golf course industry nationwide, Richmond’s glut of clubs has felt its share of pain in recent years.

That has led to sales, mergers, bankruptcies and foreclosures for area courses.

The Club at Viniterra, a 225-acre course that was part of a grand vision of a winery community in New Kent County, was sold in late 2012 to a South Carolina firm.

Lake Chesdin Golf Club, a 14-year-old golf course in southern Chesterfield, was acquired from a Canadian firm in the spring and then merged into Meadowbrook Country Club.

And both Prince George Golf Club and River’s Bend Golf Club are stuck in Chapter 11 bankruptcy as their owner works out a deal to pull the properties out of debt.

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