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American businessman in shock bid to take over Golspie Golf Club - EGM to be held on Thursday

By Caroline McMorran

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A WEALTHY American businessman has made a shock bid to take over Golspie Golf Club, it has emerged.

The club’s management committee has called an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) for Thursday, December 7, to discuss the proposal and is urging members to attend.

But, it is understood there is widespread concern about the takeover bid with members unhappy about a “lack of transparency” and loss of control of the club to a single individual.

A wealthy American businessman is making a bid to take over Golspie Golf Club.
A wealthy American businessman is making a bid to take over Golspie Golf Club.

One member, who asked not to be named said: “The approach has been positioned as a ‘takeover’, so 100 per cent or majority ownership. This is totally unacceptable. The chances of it being approved are very slim.”

The identity of the American has not been revealed by the club who have signed a non-disclosure agreement, but the Northern Times has been reliably informed that he is an 80-year-old who has made his fortune through his ownership of food manufacturing companies.

A frequent visitor to the north of Scotland with his wife, he is a member of the Royal Dornoch Golf Club and Skibo Golf Club.

The philanthropic couple are known for their generosity to good causes in the United States including to health care and children's charities.

Golspie Golf Club, a private members’ club, has around 600 members with a significant proportion from overseas. It is hoped that a Zoom or Teams link will be available for the EGM but it is unclear as to who will be able to vote.

The club owns its clubhouse and car park, but leases the land over which the course runs from Sutherland Estates. A 100-year lease was signed in 2014.

A representative of the businessman is said to have already approached Sutherland Estates.

The club, which has been steadily rising in UK and World golf rankings year on year, is financially sound and has not been actively seeking investment.

Its Council of Management is understood to have met last Wednesday to discuss the takeover proposal.The meeting was said to have been “heated” and the decision to put the proposal to the membership was not unanimous.

Members were informed of the EGM in an email sent last Thursday, November 30, and seen by the Northern Times, in which they were told that the business to be discussed was the “proposed takeover of Golspie Golf Club”.

Another email, sent on Friday, December 2, gave members more details.

It stated: “The club captain recently received an unsolicited approach from a representative of a very wealthy American individual.

“This approach was to the effect that the individual wished to buy the club and included some of the individual’s plans and aspirations. That is as far as matters have progressed.

“The aim of the meeting on Thursday is to determine whether or not the membership wishes to support the majority view of the Council of Management that matters be progressed or the individual to be informed that the club does not wish to take it any further.”

More details of the businessman's plans are expected to be made available by the Thursday meeting.

A copy of the club’s constitution was attached to the email and it was pointed out that if a vote was held, it would be in accordance with the constitution.

Meanwhile one member who has contacted the Northern Times said: “There is absolutely no chance of this going through unless there is a complete change of direction. Talk of a buy-out is making it unpalatable for 99.9 per cent of the members.

“If this gentleman wants to support Golspie and be a partner with the club and the community, that would be welcome. For example, if he wanted to help build a new clubhouse, raise the standard of the course even further, provide better practice facilities, employ more greenkeeping staff and hold more community engagement, then that would all be welcome. Looking for control as a starting point is bound to fail.”

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