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Heritage adds Legacy Golf Club to country club lineup

Legacy will now become the fourth Lakewood Ranch Golf and Country Club course.

Former Legacy Golf Club co-owners Jon Whittemore and Kevin Paschall stand in front of a resurfaced green in 2018. They sold it to the Heritage Golf Group on March 13, 2024.
Former Legacy Golf Club co-owners Jon Whittemore and Kevin Paschall stand in front of a resurfaced green in 2018. They sold it to the Heritage Golf Group on March 13, 2024.
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Since purchasing Legacy Golf Club in November 2015, Jon Whittemore and his Advance Golf Partners had worked to bring the course back to its original elite status.

"I say that it was suffering from the hot potato syndrome, with so many multiple ownership groups running it," Whittemore said Friday, two days after selling the course to the Heritage Golf Group.

Before Whittemore and Kevin Paschall bought the club for $3.4 million in 2015, the club had three other owners in the previous six years. The course opened in 1997.

Whittemore said the sale left him with mixed emotions since his staff had worked so hard to bring it back.

"It's certainly bittersweet, letting go of something that you have put so much into," he said. "But we are handing it off to such a quality group. They will do something good with it."

What the Heritage Golf Group will do is make Legacy, which will transition to being a private course, the Lakewood Ranch Golf and Country Club's fourth 18-hole course. Mark Burnett, the CEO of the Heritage Golf Group, announced the purchase of Lakewood Ranch Golf and Country Club, its three 18-hole courses, its racket complexes, workout and swimming facilities, and the Lodge on March 8. He closed on the Legacy Golf Club purchase March 13.

"We had looked into buying Legacy a few years ago, before we had even thought about Lakewood Ranch (Golf and Country Club)," Burnett said. "We've always liked this area."

Burnett said the Legacy Golf Club will be closed March 18 for extensive renovations. It will get new greens, fairways, roughs, cart paths and bunkers. However, Burnett said the layout of the course will not change from the initial Arnold Palmer Signature Design, other than a "tweak or two."

He said the formerly public Legacy Golf Club will reopen in the fourth quarter of this year, about the same time the Cypress Links course opens after its renovation. When those two courses open, those on the country club's membership waiting list will be able to join the club. Those waiting on the list had been told it would be at least a two-year wait. The addition of Legacy will relieve that stress.

Burnett praised Advance Golf Partners for its work at Legacy.

"Kudos to them," Burnett said. "They have done a great job with it. We feel it is a great match for what we want."

Whittemore said a part of the deal was that Heritage Golf Group would hire 100% of the maintenance crew. The other course employees were invited to apply for jobs within Heritage's network of courses and clubs. Heritage owns 39 clubs in the U.S. and eight in Florida.

Burnett noted that current Lakewood Ranch Golf and Country Club members would not have to pay any additional fees with the addition of a fourth 18-hole course. He also stressed that Heritage Golf Group would hold extensive member feedback sessions about all the club's amenities and promised the focus will be on all the facilities and needs of the membership, and the focus will not be just about golf.

Lakewood Ranch's Whittemore was asked if he would retire after the sale.

"An entrepreneur never retires," he said with a laugh. "My energy for the golf business continues to be strong. I am encouraged with golf's growth in our market."

Terms of the sale were not announced.

A letter Burnett sent to Lakewood Ranch Golf and Country Club members noted, "Lakewood Ranch Golf and Country Club can now officially be recognized as a 72-hole, four-course premier country club. We are pleased to inform all current active golf members that there will be no additional Initiation fee required for full access to all four championship courses. Moreover, there are no immediate plans to increase golf membership dues."

On the down side for the public, the King's Corner pizzeria inside the Legacy Golf Club no longer will be open to the public.



Jay Heater

Jay Heater is the managing editor of the East County Observer. Overall, he has been in the business more than 41 years, 26 spent at the Contra Costa Times in the San Francisco Bay area as a sportswriter covering college football and basketball, boxing and horse racing.

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