By Christine Graf
Van Patten Golf Club in Clifton Park was recently purchased by business partners Lance Orcutt and Roland Mann, owners of Executive Group in Amsterdam.
The pair took over operations of the golf club on July 7.
Longtime owners Robert Van Patten Jr. and his wife, Kathy, decided to sell the course in order to spend more time with their children and grandchildren. The club was built in 1968 by Van Patten’s father, local builder Robert Van Patten. In 2002, the public course was reconfigured, and a 15,000-square-foot banquet hall, The Vista, was added to the property.
According to Orcutt, he became interested in purchasing the golf club after Neil Cherkosly of Upstate Appraisal Services made him aware that the property was for sale.
“He sent me all of the information and it looked really great on paper. That prompted me to ask for a meeting with the Van Pattens, Robert and Kathy. We had a great conversation and walked the property. Seeing what they did with the property in the years that they owned it was impressive.”
As a result of that one meeting, Orcutt and Mann offered the full asking price for the property. Their offer was accepted by the Van Pattens, who received four other offers for the club.
“It was a straight up business transaction. I saw a terrific value in the property itself. It’s a profitable business that in my opinion has the ability to be much more profitable,” he said. “It wasn’t being sold because of an inability to be profitable or because it fell into disrepair.”
Orcutt and Mann are working with Environmental Design Partnership of Clifton Park to put together a master plan for the property. They are also working with Michael Phinney of Phinney Architectural Design in Saratoga Springs and award-winning golf course architect Steven Kay.
“We’re working with Michael Phinney for any new builds or redesign of existing buildings that are there and with Steven Kay for the actual golf course itself,” said Orcutt. “We’re going to see what we can do with any type of redesign of the holes and upgrades to the drainage and sprinkler system. We’re looking at what is feasible, as well as what would best serve that community and demographic.”
Although Orcutt and Mann have extensive plans for upgrades, he said they are not yet ready to announce them.
“It’s just a touch premature,” he said. “Every day I’m learning more and more about the business. In terms of operating a golf course, this is brand new for us. We (Executive Group) are involved with all of our customers in build outs of restaurants and banquet facilities –everything in front of house. We coordinate the bars, the equipment, and work with the operators to get set up. We haven’t actually been operators ourselves.”
Orcutt and Mann will rely on the staff that the Van Pattens already had in place. The club’s 81 full- and part-time employees are being retained.
“That was very attractive to us because it made it a very limited administrative burden on Executive Group to take on this acquisition. We bought a business that had everything you need to run it already in place. That’s hard to build, and it takes a decade minimum to do something like that,” he said. “It’s also the middle of the season, which also made it attractive because we have basically half the year left of revenue and potential profitability.”
Orcutt said it is too soon to estimate the amount that Executive Group will spend on property renovations and improvements. He doesn’t rule out the possibility that the ultimate investment will be multiple millions of dollars.
Renovating the existing banquet facility will be a top priority. The Vista is almost 20 years old and in need of updating.
“That’s probably going to be phase one because the building is already there and that’s what we (Executive Group) do,” he said. “When we are done, it will be absolutely top-notch, five-star all the way across the board like we do with our projects in New York City and Boston. Our goal is for it to be the premier banquet facility in the entire Capital Region.”
“We want this to be one of the premier public golf courses in the Capital Region bar none,” said Orcutt. “It will be about bringing up the turf conditions and possibly adding additional amenities that you would expect to see at golf course or country club. We want to bring our five-star quality and craftsmanship to these interior and exterior buildouts which is what Executive Group does for its customers.”
Executive Group has worked with Carlyle Hotel, the Ritz Carlton, Parker New York, and numerous other five-star luxury hotels. They specialize in interior architectural millwork and casework that includes cabinets, solid panel products, metal, glass, stone, upholstery, and fabrics. For their interior buildouts, they collaborate directly with the top design firms in the world, he said.