The NFL's Carolina Panthers are looking increasingly like the soon-to-be new owners of a Charlotte-area golf club the franchise will make available to its own players and staff, as well the public.
The Carolina Panthers have reached a deal to purchase Waterford Golf Club in Rock Hill, S.C., located four miles from the team’s new South Carolina headquarters set to open in 2022. The purchase price has not been disclosed.
Waterford Golf Club is a Hale Irwin design which opened in 1997. The golf course would be part of a broader development the team is building in the Rock Hill area. It's becoming increasingly en vogue for professional sports teams to develop residential and commercial space around their headquarters and stadiums, giving them cash flow throughout the year, even when the teams are not in season.
“We’d like to acquire that as part of our development project in Rock Hill, and see if we can’t make that an even greater community amenity,” Panthers vice president and Chief Operating Officer Mark Hart said to the Rock Hill Herald.
The Rock Hill Economic Development Corporation is helping the Panthers with land acquisition and likely other sweetheart incentives.
Romspen Club Holdings, a subsidiary of a Toronto-based mortgage company, bought Waterford in 2014 for $2.7 million while holding a lien of $15.7 million on the course, which was in foreclosure. The team maintains it would invest in improving the property.
“Anything that we do, we’re going to try to improve it over its current state,” Hart said. “It’s already a great asset. It’s a great course. It’s a great layout. But perhaps if we can do something in conjunction with the development on the [new headquarters] site and make it something that’s got a Panthers brand or something that’s even better for the community, I think that’s something we’re going to look forward to trying.”
While the Minnesota Vikings and Dallas Cowboys are among NFL organizations reaping the benefits of massive, mixed-use headquarters, the Panthers could turn to Major League Baseball's Texas Rangers for an example on owning a golf course. The franchise and Arlington Golf teamed up to create a Rangers-branded course which opened in Arlington in February 2019 after a $24 million renovation project done by John Colligan.
Like the Rangers course, the Panthers reportedly intend to make Waterford, which could be rebranded, available for public play. The course would, of course, also be available to franchise employees, including players.
Rock Hill, S.C., is approximately 30 miles southwest of downtown Charlotte, with the area giving the Panthers the ability to more easily brand themselves as a team for both Carolinas.