LINWOOD — Linwood Country Club, one of the last member-owned golf courses in the area, has been sold to local restaurateurs Frank and Joe Dougherty, owners of iconic Atlantic City eateries The Knife and Fork Inn, Dock’s Oyster House and Harry’s Oyster Bar.
David Gardner, president of the club's board of directors said Wednesday that selling the club to the Doughertys is a perfect marriage. The sale of the 97-year-old golf club was finalized Nov. 24 and will close Dec. 29.
Gardner said selling the club was a huge decision for the board and the membership but that in the end they needed to grow their membership and the best direction would be to go to a private owner. The club was put up for sale in May. While Gardner said a number of parties was interested in purchasing the club, only the Doughertys wanted to continue to have LCC retain its exclusivity as a private club.
“It was really important to us that the club retain the lifestyle and remain private and that the membership is able to continue to hold tournaments as we have always done and hold social functions,” said Gardner. “We wanted the club to remain as it is where everybody is somebody at Linwood Country Club. We all love that it is a great place to golf but also a great place to go. Now it is going to be even better with a premier restaurant. This is where people will want to come and golf and enjoy a great meal.”
Neither Gardner nor the Doughertys would comment on a sale price.
The Doughertys bring with them a reputation for incredible dining, according to Gardner, and they are local.
The club has 165 full memberships and 75 social members.
“We are expecting all of our members to remain at Linwood Country Club and to attract new members,” Gardner said.
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Frank Dougherty, of Margate, said the acquisition of Linwood Country Club happened rather quickly but said it is going to be a wonderful addition to the other three properties he and his brother Frank operate.
All of the current memberships will expire March 1, 2018. Dougherty said that is the normal renewal for memberships, and the new memberships will kick in at that point, the details of which will be worked out.
He said they are interested in making improvements in the banquet room and adding a bridal suite on the second floor. Dougherty mentioned a former manager’s suite that has been used for storage for the past few years will make a perfect spot for the suite.
“This is something the brides want," Dougherty said, adding improvements to the patio will make it accessible nine months out of the year. "This will be an unbelievable venue for weddings and other events."
The plan is to renovate during January and February and have it ready for spring.
Dougherty said he is talking with employees at the club as they determine how to move forward.
Linwood Country Club has a club liquor license, which means you have to be a member or a guest of a member to purchase alcohol at the bar. The City of Linwood does not have another license to sell, but a license sold to Robin Karman, the developer of the Cornerstone Commerce Center, has been inactive for nearly 10 years. In recent months, City Council, through Solicitor Joe Youngblood, has been working with the New Jersey Alcohol Beverage Control commission to get the license back.
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“We are going to make it as smooth a transition as possible,” Dougherty says. “Although the memberships expire March 1, we hope that members stay on to see what we have planned.”
Dougherty said they have retained SOSH Architects, decorator Dana Falcione and builder John Merenda for the renovations.
He added the club’s restaurant will boast cuisine similar to the family's other restaurant holdings.
The Doughertys, including Frank Dougherty’s wife, Maureen Shay, reopened Dock’s Oyster House last year after more than doubling its size and totally renovating the landmark restaurant. Frank and Joe are the fourth generation owners of Dock’s, which was founded by their great-grandfather. This will be the first Dougherty-owned business on the mainland.
“Linwood Country Club has the potential to be the premier private golf club in the area,” said Dougherty, an avid golfer, adding the name will not change. “The club already offers a first-rate golf course with spectacular views of the Atlantic City skyline. Real opportunity for change, however, exists within the food and beverage program, which is our specialty.”