Williamsburg’s Ford’s Colony in Chapter 11

        Developers of golf communities that are well established and with all amenities in place have fared pretty well amidst the carnage of the last few years.  Sometimes, though, the golf clubs at their very heart do not fare as well.  Despite a 20-year track record, three golf courses and plenty

Ask to see financial statements before you join a country club.  And pay special attention to the reserve fund.

of built homes, the Ford’s Colony Country Club in Williamsburg, VA, is in enough trouble to seek court protection.  The announcement that the club had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and is seeking to reorganize is a stark reminder to anyone in the market for a golf club membership -- ask to see the club’s financial statements, especially the amount held in reserve.

        According to Williamsburg area media reports, Ford’s Colony Chairman Richard Ford, whose father first developed the community, sent a note to residents and members on Friday detailing the club's plans to seek court protection.   Ford blamed the shortfall in cash flow on the inability to recruit new members and on "wet and colder weather of 2009 and 2010."  Of course, a healthy reserve amount –- aptly called a “rainy day fund” by some – is designed to cushion against revenue interruptions.  Apparently the Ford's Colony fund was not as deep as it needed to be.

        Residents in Ford’s Colony, which was one of the earliest golf communities in the historic Williamsburg area, are not directly affected by the golf club’s problems.  However, if the club does not successfully re-organize or gains a reputation for poor playing conditions, residents are likely to feel the effects in their home values.  For those considering a home in the Williamsburg area, Ford’s Colony in the short term could present significant bargains in real estate.  The longer term bears close watching.

        You can read one account of the bankruptcy filing at the Williamsburg/Yorktown Daily.


Three courses were not enough to stave off a bankruptcy filing at Ford's Colony.

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