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Greystone Country Club in Cabot Takes New Angle of Approach

4 min read

Greystone Country Club in Cabot has been brought back from the brink by two residents of the golf course community, but a few dozen more members are needed to restore its financial health.

In January 2017, members received notice that the club would close on Feb. 1. Here’s how the club got into its hole, and how it climbed out.

Greystone dates to 1994, when Northstar Ltd. paid $2.8 million for about 1,800 acres off Highway 5 some two miles north of its intersection with Highway 89. The developers broke ground on the Greystone project on Aug. 19 of that year, and the project included a clubhouse, two golf courses and hundreds of residential lots.

Greystone Development Ltd., led by Dr. Glenn Dickson of Jonesboro, bought out Northstar for $5.2 million in 1995.

Mountain Springs, the first golf course and the one that is still part of the club, opened in 1995.

Cypress Creek, which now operates independently of the club, opened in 1998.

In January 2004, Union Planters Bank of Memphis foreclosed on a $3.4 million loan secured by Mountain Springs. In June 2004, Dickson relinquished ownership of Cypress Creek and residential land to Regions Bank.

Doing so satisfied a 1995 loan made by First Bank of Arkansas. First Bank and Union Planters were merged into Regions, so Regions ended up owning both courses and residential land.

Regions sold the properties to Greystone Entertainment LLC, led by developer William Minton, in October 2004.

In August 2011, the club closed. It had been bleeding about $40,000 a month.

In December 2011, Minton and co-owner Jack King gave up their ownership of the golf courses and some undeveloped land to their financer, Metropolitan National Bank of Little Rock. The two men filed for bankruptcy in 2012. Also in 2012, the club and its Mountain Springs course were sold again, to Jim Cooper. Smg Properties LLC, led by Stephen Grimm of Cabot, bought Cypress Creek.

In February 2017, Greystone residents Duane Jahner and John Adams entered a five-year lease-to-own agreement with Cooper for the club and the Mountain Springs course. Jahner and Adams stepped up because they didn’t want their homes devalued or their views marred by more housing.

Jahner said they are still fighting the perception that the club is closed and recovering from a dip in membership that followed the closure notice.

The owners and General Manager Dustin Ralston focused on bringing operational costs down in 2017. Jahner estimated that, by analyzing every detail of the budget, they cut those expenses in half. Salaries were adjusted, a few positions were eliminated, overtime was prohibited, vendors were swapped out to get equipment at a lower cost and a more efficient HVAC system was installed.

The club also invested in itself. Jahner said about $25,000 worth of upgrades were made.

He said the owners’ goal is to break even. If the club becomes profitable, the profit will go toward projects like adding shade to the pool, restoring the tennis court to its former glory and installing a playground.

“We’re looking forward, not back. We’re looking to take this to another level. I think, this past year, we made strides,” Jahner said. “It’s that crawl, walk, run theory. Right now, we’ve got the crawling part over with. We’re standing up, ready to walk, and, by the end of the year, we hope to be running.”

The club’s focus this year is increasing membership from about 260 now, Ralston said. Another 30 to 40 members, more tournaments and more food and beverage use could bring the club to the break-even point, he said.

In an effort to attract members, the club streamlined it membership categories to three that will become effective Feb. 1. There is no longer any upfront cost to become a member, but new members must sign a one-year contract.

The monthly dues for a full membership are $180, or $150 if the member lives farther than 25 miles from the club.

Last year, Ralston formed the Greystone Golf Committee, an advisory group of members, and started a junior golf program. The club hosted tournaments last year and plans to host more this year.

The club is working on its social media presence and targeted marketing too.

Ralston’s plan is to be responsive, to do what its current members and future members want it to do.

The club appears to be on the right track. Jeff Morgan, CEO of the Club Managers Association of America, said country clubs must research who their members and potential members are and use that information to figure out the best way to serve them.

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