Sunday River Golf Club in Newry will open for business this summer under new management.
A Maine Business and Consumer Court judge ruled Wednesday that Portland-based Newry Holdings LLC has the right to operate the award-winning golf venue until a pending ownership dispute is resolved between Newry Holdings and the club’s developer, Bath-based Harris Golf Inc.
Judge Richard Mulhern also ruled that Harris Golf must turn over to Newry Holdings assets in its possession associated with the club, including customer information, course equipment, computer passwords and Web domains.
Among the assets Harris Golf must turn over by Friday afternoon is information about customers who already have paid for club memberships this year. However, the ruling says that Newry Holdings is under no obligation to honor those memberships. Harris Golf President Jeff Harris has said that the company will provide refunds to any paid members who are denied access because of the ownership dispute.
A lawsuit is pending in Cumberland County Superior Court to determine whether Newry Holdings or Harris Golf is the club’s rightful owner.
The semi-private golf course was built by Harris Golf, which has owned and operated the club since it opened in 2005. However, Newry Holdings recently took possession of the property.
It was the sole creditor on the property’s mortgage, and it said Harris Golf failed to make a required mortgage payment.
Newry Holdings filed a lawsuit in January, alleging that SR Golf Holdings LLC and its parent company, Harris Golf, have refused to hand over assets such as equipment and membership fees they have collected since the property was conveyed Jan. 5 to Newry Holdings. Newry Holdings also is seeking $5.6 million in unpaid mortgage debt and property taxes plus legal fees, along with all remaining golf club assets held by SR Golf.
Harris Golf filed a counterclaim on March 7 alleging that Newry Holdings and a previous creditor, Boothbay Pool I LLC, violated a forbearance agreement that would have enabled SR Golf to use new financing to meet its financial obligations and retain ownership of the golf club.
Wednesday’s ruling does not settle the larger question of which company is the club’s rightful owner. It merely allows Newry Holdings to operate the facility until the lawsuit is adjudicated.
Harris Golf attorney Tom Hallett said the judge’s order followed a decision by his client to withdraw its objection to Newry Holdings operating the facility for the upcoming golf season.
Hallett said Harris Golf determined it would not be able resolve the lawsuit and resume operation of the club in time for the season’s opening, and it agreed that the facility would lose value if it failed to open this year.
It’s likely that a hearing to resolve the larger ownership question won’t happen until the fall, he said.
“We still believe strongly that in the long run, my clients will be vindicated,” Hallett said.
J. Craig Anderson can be contacted at 791-6390 or at: