SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

May 31, 2007

Turner Hill golfers buy club

IPSWICH - Ipswich resident and developer Ted Raymond looked at 300 overgrown acres on Turner Hill and saw a world-class golf course and resort destination.



He was a victim of a soft real estate market, however. Tomorrow, the members of the golf club that Raymond created in 2003 - the linchpin of a massive development forecast at more than $100 million at the time - will buy him out and take over ownership.



Of the 105 golfers who are members, 92 invested a minimum $40,000 each to finance the purchase; 11 others have yet to decide whether they'll do so.



One golfer is moving away, and the other member, Bryan Townsend, filed suit against Raymond in Salem Superior Court this week, claiming the developer breached his contract with him by not permitting him to use the course.



The purchase is of the golf course and its facilities alone, not any of the surrounding residential properties Raymond was also developing when the real estate market crash and competition from a host of other new golf courses brought the project to a standstill.



Club members Brian Girvan and Bob Talbot spearheaded the drive to buy the club.



"We feel we got a very good deal," Talbot said. "We're very excited."



To finance the purchase, which is scheduled to close tomorrow, members were given two options: Spend $40,000 for a nonrefundable initiation fee, or invest $75,000 or more for a membership that could make them some money.



If they decide to leave the club, they'll be able to redeem 90 percent of their investment. If the membership sold for $100,000, the member would get $90,000.



If golfers wait until after tomorrow's close to join, their $75,000 joining fee will be redeemed at 80 percent. In other words, they'll get a maximum $60,000, no matter what the membership sells for.



Members also pay a yearly $10,000 membership fee.



Although Townsend's suit alleges he was not allowed to use the course, George Goich, Turner Hill's director of golf, said all members were welcome to use the course until the closing, whether they were continuing their membership or not.



Calls to Townsend and his attorney, William Sheehan, were not returned yesterday.



32 new members



Talbot said yesterday many prospective members have not joined in recent years because they knew Raymond was in financial straits and the future of the club was in doubt. Now that the members have taken over, that's changed, he said.



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