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Investor buys Kenmure Country Club plus lots; brings in Kemper to manage golf and dining

Steven Schorr Steven Schorr

FLAT ROCK — Steven Schorr had a straightforward response when asked why he bought Kenmure Country Club.

“This is my first golf course and I bought it because, aside from being an investment, it’s a beautiful piece of property,” he said in an interview at the historic clubhouse last month. “I fell in love with it when it came on the market. I had been looking to buy a golf course for the past year and a half or so. When I saw this one, I said, ‘This is the one I want,’ and now I’m the proud owner.”

The proud owner volleys a question about his lack of golf course and country club management by pointing out that he brought in KemperSports, one of the top golf course management companies in the U.S., to manage the golf and dining.

As the manager of more than 100 golf courses, Kemper brings “all the best practices in food and beverage for country clubs,” Schorr says. “They have an agronomist to examine the grass. We have access to a whole network of event planners and the like so we’d like to continue to do some of that. But really, as they say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. We think this is a great place. It provides a great experience for the clientele and we’d like to continue that.”

The one new thing Schorr and Lee King, the Kenmure owner who sold the development on Jan. 17, boasted about was the golf carts. New ones arrived within a couple of weeks of Schorr’s purchase.

“I think we’d rather under promise and over deliver,” Schorr said when asked what other changes golfers and diners might see. “Let’s leave it open.”

Schorr played it as close to the vest later that day when dozens of Kenmure homeowners showed up for a presentation about the new ownership. Managers from Kemper “had a canned presentation” and handled “99 percent”of the meeting, said Nick Weedman, who has long been an active leader of the Kenmure Property Owners Association and is also mayor of Flat Rock.

“It went over I think well because obviously they have a lot of experience and they can bring some expertise in specialized areas like agronomy and so forth,” he said. “Schorr got up and said basically he understood that country clubs don’t make money. If they do, they make very little and that he is in real estate and he is an investor, and that’s what drew him to consider the purchase of Kenmure because he bought not only the country club but he bought the real estate side of Kenmure as well.”

Kenmure was developed starting in 1980s by King and three UNC basketball coaches — two of whom would turn out to have Hall of Fame coaching careers. The investors were Dean Smith and Roy Williams and Eddie Fogler, plus “their finance guy, Bill Miller,” King said. King’s connection to the Tar Heels was Williams, the Asheville native whom King had known since he coached at Owen High School, before joining Coach Smith’s staff.

Schorr paid a total of $10.8 million for 244 acres, according to land records, including $6,725,000 for the 22,700-square-foot clubhouse and 160-acre golf course and $4,075,000 for 84 acres of vacant land.

Schorr said in the Lightning interview that he invests primarily in apartment complexes across the South with dwellings ranging in rental rates from workforce housing to class A high end units. The family created four LLCs to buy the Kenmure property and land; they’ve formed 41 LLCs in North Carolina since 2015, corporate records show. Among the parcels he now owns is a 60-acre tract south of Pinnacle Mountain Road that had become something of an unwanted stepchild in the high-end Flat Rock subdivision. Kenmure homeowners twice voted down King’s efforts to bring the Green River Fire District land into Kenmure.

“I suspect, in fact I’m almost positive, that he will develop that,” Weedman said. “He said nothing in that meeting about his intent to do any development but he says he’s in real estate and he’s an investor, so draw the conclusion.”

Schorr and King said there are 18 lots available in the section south of Pinnacle Mountain Road.

“We intend to build at least one spec home,” Schorr said.

Weedman said the only visible sign of new ownership homeowners have observed is a change in the grounds crew. Kemper brought in groundskeepers from the two other clubs in the area it manages —Broadmoor Golf Links across from Asheville Regional Airport and Sequoyah National Golf Club in Whittier. As for the dinner menu and the bar, Weedman added, no change so far.

“I’ve seen nothing on the food side, the club side, of any obvious differences,” he said, “and so we just don’t know.”