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The Moorings moving quickly to absorb Hawk’s Nest


With its $2.5 million acquisition of the Hawk’s Nest Golf Club now complete – the deal closed on Oct. 1 – The Moorings is preparing a five-year capital plan to enhance the clubhouse, course and other facilities on its new mainland property.

Already, though, the Hawk’s Nest parking lot has been resurfaced, pine straw has been replaced on the golf course, the clubhouse has been repainted and trees have been trimmed.

“Hawk’s Nest has an excellent reputation ... and The Moorings plans to build on that excellence,” said Ursula Gunter, the club’s marketing and membership director. “The work is just beginning.”

Gunter said an integration committee is handling the Hawk’s Nest members’ transition to The Moorings, where Gunter said they’re being encouraged to participate in the governance of the club and solicited for positions on committees, even the Board of Governors.

Though Gunter said it was too soon to know exactly how many of Hawk’s Nest 144 members would make the move to The Moorings, “we expect most will accept membership here.”

A knowledgeable source said last weekend he was unaware of any Hawk’s Nest members who had resigned their membership in the wake of the acquisition. He said he expects “all but a few” to make the move to The Moorings.

“There’s really no good reason not to,” the source said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “If you were a member in good standing at Hawk’s Nest, you automatically became a member of The Moorings. There’s no extra fee.

“And the annual dues at The Moorings are actually a couple of thousand dollars less than they were at Hawk’s Nest,” he added. “So there’s no additional membership fee, you’re paying less in annual dues, you have access to two golf courses and you get all the other amenities – yacht club, pool, dining, spa, tennis ...

“That’s not a bad deal.”

The Moorings increased the price of a full membership, which includes golf, from $25,000 to $55,000 on Aug. 1. In addition, full members pay annual dues in excess of $10,000, including fees for lockers, bag storage, gratuities and a food minimum.

The source said the annual dues at Hawk’s Nest were roughly $13,500, including incidentals.

Gunter said The Moorings and Hawk’s Nest had a “significant number of dual members” who, as a result of the acquisition, will now pay dues to only one club.

In addition, The Moorings’ acquisition of Hawk’s Nest and its highly rated, championship-caliber golf course has drawn the interest of dozens of potential new members – just as the club’s board had hoped.

The Moorings board began its pursuit of the 300-acre Hawk’s Nest property in April, primarily because it realized that it needed a full-length golf course to remain competitive in appealing to younger executives less apt to be satisfied with the seaside club’s 4,434-yard, par-64 short course.

“There were people waiting for the deal to go through,” a source familiar with the transition said. “They wanted to make sure The Moorings had Hawk’s Nest before they joined. Now, The Moorings can compete with the likes of Quail Valley.”

Gunter was unable to provide the number of new members – in addition to those from Hawk’ Nest – who’ve joined The Moorings since the acquisition was announced. She did say: “Certainly, the interest has been strong.”

Any decision regarding the possible rebranding of Hawk’s Nest under The Moorings’ banner would be made by the integration committee, which includes members from both clubs.

“I’m sure that’s something they’ll discuss,” Gunter said, “but there’s a lot of other work to be done.”

Carrying a debt of more than $2 million and having lost more than 100 members since its pre-recession heyday, Hawk’s Nest members needed a long-term solution to the financial challenges confronting many stand-alone golf clubs in a shrinking industry.

They voted in late May to sell their 28-year-old club to The Moorings, rather than to the San Diego-based Heritage Golf Group. A third group, composed of three Hawk’s Nest members who wanted the club to remain independent, dropped out shortly before the vote.

The Moorings’ purchase was funded by 25 members, selected via lottery, each putting up $100,000. In exchange, they will be exempt from all club dues for the rest of their lives and the lives of their spouses.

Moorings president Joe Vargas said in his April letter to members that the club would not incur any debt as a result of the purchase.

In another letter to Moorings members last month, shortly after both clubs’ boards voted unanimously to approve the transaction, Vargas wrote: “We are positioned to have the finest club in all of Vero Beach, offering first-class service and amenities.”