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Members Seeking to Purchase Country Club

TIMES STAFF WRITER

One of the area’s most exclusive country clubs is about to become even more exclusive.

Members of the North Ranch Country Club in Thousand Oaks are planning to buy their own club and the championship golf course that surrounds it for $28 million in a deal that would make it the priciest in Ventura County, officials said Wednesday.

Club members on Monday will launch a sale of memberships to finance the purchase from Prudential Insurance Co. of America, said Leonard Alexander, an attorney and board president of the organization representing the 600 members.

“We believe it’s a good investment, and we’ll have control of the management of the operation,” Alexander said. “We’re real pleased to make this thing possible.”

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Alexander said he was confident that the funds would be raised through the sale of memberships and private financing. Memberships would be offered first to club members, he said.

To finance the purchase, 400 memberships need to be sold. Memberships for golf course privileges would cost $42,500, with an additional $4,250 for tennis court privileges.

Country club members now pay about $15,000 for the privilege of using the greens but are unable to sell their memberships.

Members initiated the purchase to gain control over operation of the country club and its facilities, Alexander added. The 27-hole golf course, 12 tennis courts and dining rooms sit on rolling hills north of the Ventura Freeway.

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The sale would transfer control of the club to members and change the membership to an equity or share in ownership of the operation. At equity clubs, a person’s membership can be sold, with certain conditions and fees.

The newly formed organization of club members may be able to buy the 250-acre property and 49,000 square feet of buildings for $3 million less if the money is raised before Dec. 24.

Prudential acquired the property in 1973, then developed the golf course and tennis courts. The sale is part of a decision to sell off Prudential’s share in golf courses and country clubs, a spokesman said.

The New Jersey-based company still owns real estate, hotels and recreational facilities nationwide.

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Two years ago, the North Ranch Country Club held a tournament for the NCAA Division I golf championship.

Ventura County has 20 golf courses, seven of which are private with membership fees ranging from $25,000 to $40,000. Members usually agree to pay monthly dues and to spend a minimum amount in the country club bar or restaurant.

North Ranch directors said the membership price is on a par with other private golf courses in Ventura and Los Angeles counties. An appraiser has told North Ranch Country Club officials that a membership was worth at least $60,000, director John Baloff said.

“It is our opinion we are selling it at a discount,” Baloff said. “Traditionally, for the last 20 or 30 years, golf courses have all gone up in price.”

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When directors polled members of the club, 417 people signed letters agreeing to the purchase, Baloff said.

One city official applauded the sale.

“It’s a good deal for the members and the city,” said Thousand Oaks Mayor Alex Fiore, who is also a golfer but does not belong to North Ranch. “I don’t know what other golf courses are going for today, but it is a competitive fee.”


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