The Cherry Hill, N.J. facility owes debts to more than 100 creditors, including a bank that extended $8 million for a new clubhouse after approval by an officer who belonged to the club, but has since resigned.
For the past two years, Woodcrest Country Club’s financial woes have been well-documented. The Cherry Hill, N.J. club has now filed for bankruptcy protection against debts to more than 100 creditors, including $10.7 million claimed by Sun National Bank in Vineland, N.J., The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
“It was clear the bank’s plan as of the last deposition was there was no plan and they were going to keep the property and close down the course,” said Steven Angstreich, a prominent lawyer who is a member and former President of the club. “We tried to work out a deal, but when that was rejected there was only one thing we could do.”
Financial turmoil began for the par-71 golf course in 2010, when Woodcrest was unable to pay off an $8 million loan from Sun for the construction of a new clubhouse. Sun Vice Chairman Sid Brown was a prominent member of the club and agreed to give the loan despite the bank’s policy to avoid such arrangements with golf courses, due to potential financial risk.
That year, the club voted against handing the club over to the bank and the club’s 200 senior members, including Brown and Cherry Hill Mayor Chuck Cahn, resigned.
“They signed a contract, and when they were unable to pay back the loan they had an obligation to the bank. The club was the collateral,” Cahn said.
The club has used one-day trial memberships to increase income while fighting Sun in court. Membership currently stands at 400. with members paying up to $8,000 a year to play. In its Chapter 11 filing, the club reported a range of $1 million to $10 million in assets, with debts totaling $12 million.
The club was almost exclusively Jewish until four years ago, and now counts more than half of its members as non-Jewish.
Club leaders once considered selling the property and transforming the 150-acre property into a housing development, but the land is not zoned for housing.
“I think the neighbors would be pretty upset,” Cahn said. “My stance is that I hope it remains a golf course for the foreseeable future and if not, we could make it open space and keep it as a park.”