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Brandermill Club Back in Local Hands

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American Golf acquired Brandermill in 1995 as part of a package of 20 clubs and courses costing $140 million, says Bob Dewsbury, one of the managing partners in the investors' group, Commonwealth Golf Properties.

Foster says he's optimistic local ownership will give him the autonomy to make good decisions for the club's future. It's more difficult, he says, for a large, faraway company to make the best decisions for a club like Brandermill when it's treated as part of a large portfolio. Sometimes, he says, "what makes sense on a national level doesn't make sense on a local level." The club won't be run "in a corporate cookie-cutter fashion," Dewsbury adds.

Already, Foster says, he's seeing improvements. The sale was made final May 31, and only five days later, 70 newly leased golf carts and a range picker (a machine used to collect balls from the driving range) arrived at the club. A new fa‡ade for the clubhouse, structural renovations and expanded catering facilities are in the works.

The investors' group had looked at other, less successful golf courses in the Richmond area, says Dewsbury, but when they heard the California company was selling Brandermill they leaped at the chance.

Anyone can join the club, not just Brandermill residents, the new owners say, and the club's facilities are no longer crowded as they were in the 1990s. The country club was created in 1976 as the central attraction of the new Brandermill development, a 2,600-acre tract that was Richmond's first planned community and a model for other suburbs nationwide.

The club includes 20 tennis courts, a swimming pool, a clubhouse with catering and banquet facilities, and an 18-hole championship golf course. Designed by star golfer Gary Player, the course meanders along and over the 6-mile-long Swift Creek reservoir.

— M.S.S.

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