Interesting stuff. The city was motivated to buy this club to prevent the development of 51 homes. A cursory look at an aerial shows this smallish course on 137 acres to be an important component of a low-density single-family residential community. Located just 35 miles north of DT Altanta, the price at $36,500/acre seems like a steal. Why it did not work as a golf club close to and in the right direction of a fast growing, top 10 U.S. metropolitan area is puzzling.
In comparison, the City of Frisco (TX) where I live is buying 390 acres of ranch land about the same distance from DT Dallas (34 miles). The sales price is $61 Million, or around $156,400/acre ($3.59 per s.f.). 240 acres of this land is slated to be park space (athletic fields, trails, pond). It is no mystery why golf can't work here.
The strange thing is that it DID work as a golf club! As it happens, I was a member there from 1995 until 2008; it was a great little club. Funky course, but one that you just never got tired of, and ALWAYS in great shape.
Willard Byrd did the original 9 hole course back around 1990; Links Corp bought it from the original developer somewhere around 1994, and built 9 additional holes, and renamed it Alpharetta Country Club. For the next decade, the club usually had a full membership and made money all along.
However, Links Corp was strapped for cash, and sold ACC and a couple of other profitable properties; ACC went to a local group called Affiniti somewhere around 2006. And THAT was a disaster! Affiniti quickly raised the dues exorbitantly, and then about a year later, bought Crooked Creek and merged the two in "Alpharetta Athletic Club", with Crooked Creek as the East Course, and the old Alpharetta Country Club as the West Course. This happened literally overnight, and with no notice; I got an email on a Saturday morning, and by the time I got to the course, the signage had already changed. It seemed a terrible idea at the time, and it was. In fact, I believe Affiniti to be one of the most incompetent business operations I have ever come across in ANY field.
Nobody in either club was happy; our dues more than doubled in about a year and a half, and the Crooked Creek guys felt like their range (there was no range at our course) was overrun. The result was that members from both places started leaving in droves. On top of that, from the outset, management attempted to make Crooked Creek the gem of the "club", with the old ACC used primarily for the tennis courts, pool, and a new exercise facility; the course conditions quickly went to hell when all the available dollars went to Crooked Creek. Perhaps the most revealing moment was when management put small flat screen TVs in the wall above each urinal in the men's room at Crooked Creek; I wasn't sure if the message was that I wasn't peeing often enough, or for long enough.
In 2009, with my dues having risen from $215 to $386 in 18 months, I had had enough. I resigned, after more than a decade as a member; not one person in management ever bothered to ask why. Things continued to plug along with Affiniti shortchanging the West Course on maintenance, until yet another group bought the course several years ago. Impossibly, they were even more undercapitalized than Affiniti had been, and they went belly up, leading to the current situation.
For 15 years, North Fulton CC/Alpharetta CC/Alpharetta AC West Course/Milton CC was a thriving, profitable private club. I have zero doubt that it still would be if someone with the sense to keep it what it had been when it was a standalone had been the owner.
The real issue here was the belief that Crooked Creek could make it as a high end private club at premium. It's a good golf course, but that's all, and there are no amenities other than a clubhouse; no tennis, no pool, nothing. EVERYTHING went into that from both owners after the clubs were merged, and it just wasn't ever going to work, especially with the other options in the area that have better golf courses AND amenities.
Greed and stupidity rarely make a successful partnership, and the fate of Milton CC is yet another sad chapter in that book.