Tue Oct 4, 2022

Invited, world's largest owner and operator of private clubs, finalized purchase on Tuesday

Bill Doyle, Correspondent for Worcester Telegram & Gazette
 
October 1, 2022 - Invited - When Regan Remillard bought The Haven Country Club, then known as Mount Pleasant Country Club, from the members on Jan. 1, 2012, the Boylston club was experiencing financial difficulties.

He had been a member for eight years and did his best to bring the club back to life, spending about $5 million to renovate the clubhouse, the clubhouse entrance, the course and the parking lot to push his total investment past $10 million, including the purchase price.

Membership has doubled from less than 200 people when he purchased the club, to nearly 400 today, including social memberships.

“That just means that there’s more friends and families there enjoying themselves,” he said. “That’s a great story right there.”

By the time Remillard sold the club last Tuesday to Invited, the world's largest owner and operator of private clubs, no one could argue that he had accomplished his goal of making The Haven one of the best country clubs in the region.

“Nowadays, in my opinion, it’s one of the very best clubs in the area,” he said. “Maybe it all starts with our phenomenal golf course, which I personally consider to be the most enjoyable to play a round. We also have an incredibly talented senior staff, and we have a very, very warm and friendly, inviting, inclusive membership and environment.

“We just have a wonderful group of people who are totally enjoying it. The club has never been stronger or better, and it’s a wonderful time for Invited to come in and take it from here.”

Maurice Darbyshire, Invited senior vice president, agreed.

“It really fits in with our brand,” he said. “It’s a family-friendly, great golf course. Regan did a really good job maintaining the facility and making improvements to it.”

Darbyshire declined to disclose the purchase price of the club.

Remillard sold the club, but he plans to stick around.

“I have the only house on the golf course, which means a lot to me,” he said, “and I plan on staying in that house and remaining a member of The Haven.”

Key Questions

Why did he sell the club?

“It’s just time,” he said.

Why did he sell it to Invited, a Dallas-based company which changed its name from ClubCorp in April?

“Most importantly,” he said, “I felt that as a large golf course holding company, they offered the best chance of the golf course remaining a golf course and maybe even more importantly they offered the best chance of continuing to represent the interests of the NEPGA as I would have under my ownership.”

The New England PGA built its new headquarters at The Haven and opened it in July, in between the club’s parking lot and driving range, across the street from the clubhouse. It’s the first time the NEPGA has had its own headquarters building in its 106-year history.

The NEPGA already had a long-standing association with The Haven CC. The club has hosted the NEPGA Pro-Pro Stroke Play Championship for 55 years, which NEPGA executive director Mike Higgins believes is the longest any PGA section event has been held at the same course in the U.S.

Higgins, 47, is very familiar with The Haven. While the club was thriving, he played his home matches for the Shrewsbury High golf team there, and he worked at the club in the bag room and picking the range for former head pro Art Harris for six years while he was in high school and college. He later saw that the club had slipped, and he appreciated what Remillard did to rejuvenate it.

“It was a glimmer of what it was when I worked there,” Higgins said, “and it was at rock bottom, and he resurrected it and brought life to it and did a lot of work. I don’t even know if the membership will ever know or appreciate what he did, the care he put into the place.”

Darbyshire said he’s looking forward to working with the NEPGA and considers the organization to be a great partner.

Remillard said nearly every employee will remain with the club under the new ownership, and that that was important to him.

“I think they’ve got a great staff here,” Darbyshire said. “Wonderful people, all hard working, obviously with a tremendous pride in the club. So it was a pretty easy choice.”

Invited has a portfolio of 200 owned or operated golf and country clubs, city clubs, sports clubs and stadium clubs in 29 states, and seven BigShots Golf locations. Marquee Invited properties include Firestone CC in Akron, Ohio; Mission Hills CC in Rancho Mirage, California; The Woodlands CC in Houston, and The Metropolitan Club in Chicago.

Maintain Level of Comfort

Darbyshire met with staff and members at The Haven last week. He also appreciated that The Haven gives Invited a greater presence in Massachusetts. Invited owns two other golf courses in the state, the Ridge Club in Sandwich and Ipswich Country Club on the North Shore.

Darbyshire said he wanted the members to feel as comfortable as possible with the new ownership before any changes were made.

“So we’ll maintain the way Regan was running it,” he said, “and we’ll evaluate over the winter months on the areas that need improvement or changes.”

Darbyshire said he didn’t plan to play a round at The Haven last week, but he’d try to get in one during his next visit.

In 2014, under Remillard’s ownership, the club changed its name from Mount Pleasant CC to The Haven CC to rebrand itself and avoid being confused with Pleasant Valley CC in Sutton and Mount Pleasant Golf Club in Lowell.

Mount Pleasant CC opened in Leicester and moved to Boylston in 1955. The William Mitchell design was recently renovated by Forse Design.

On June 23, Remillard informed members via email that “with mixed emotion, but great enthusiasm” he had entered into a tentative agreement to sell the club to Invited. A few days later, Invited representatives visited the club to meet with members.

Remillard described Invited as a “member-first” focused organization that would be the “ideal new owner” of the club “to build upon the growth and success” of his 10-year ownership.

On Tuesday, he emailed members again to inform them that the sale had been finalized. Invited representatives met with members over the next couple of days.

Remillard said he had no regrets about buying The Haven a decade ago.

“Would I do it again? In a heartbeat,” he said. “It’s been a great experience, very happy with everything there. Everything’s really come out well.”

About Invited 

Since its founding in 1957, Dallas-based Invited has operated with the central purpose of Building Relationships and Enriching Lives®. The leading owner-operator of private golf and country clubs, city and stadium clubs in North America, Invited is relentless in its pursuit of providing extraordinary experiences, meaningful connections, shared passions and memorable moments for its more than 430,000 members. With approximately 20,000 peak-season employees and a portfolio of over 200 owned or operated golf and country clubs, city clubs, sports clubs, and stadium clubs in 27 states, the District of Columbia and two foreign countries, Invited creates communities and a lifestyle through its championship golf courses, work spaces, handcrafted cuisine, resort-style pools, tennis facilities, golf lounges, fitness centers and robust programming. 

Invited properties include: Firestone Country Club (Akron, Ohio); Mission Hills Country Club (Rancho Mirage, California); The Woodlands Country Club (The Woodlands, Texas); and The Metropolitan in Chicago. You can find Invited on Facebook at facebook.com/Invited  and on Twitter at @Invited.