Aerial view of the River Hills Country Club golf course from the club’s Facebook page.

By Brad Stager

River Hills Country Club and its 198 acres of land and facilities, including an 18-hole, par-72 course, has been purchased by RHC Master Association, Inc., the corporation that is the homeowners association for the River Hills community.

The purchase price was $2.9M and the association will spend another $2.1M to upgrade the facility and take care of deferred maintenance.

“With the purchase, residents can be assured that will not change,” said Paul Brooks, president of the homeowners association’s board of directors.

The 30-year-old course was designed by legendary course designer Joe Lee and includes amenities like a 13,000 sq. ft. clubhouse, pro shop as well as men’s and women’s locker rooms. Other athletic and lifestyle facilities include a playground, fitness center and swimming pool, as well as basketball, sand volleyball and tennis courts.

Besides physical recreation, River Hills dining and banquet facilities have been locations for countless family and community celebrations, ranging from wedding receptions to charitable chili cook-offs since opening in 1989.

“At a time where golf course communities throughout Florida are seeing developers purchase and build on golf course land, with substantial negative impact on home values in those communities, River Hills homeowners believe this will allow them to be in control of these assets, in control of their destiny,” Brooks wrote in an email.

Representing the seller, Fore Golf Services, was Steven Ekovich, the national managing director of the Leisure Investment Properties Group of Marcus & Millichap. He says the sale means residents don’t have to worry about new owners developing part, or all, of the site as apartments, a rehabilitation center or an assisted living facility.

“They did a fantastic thing by controlling their property values,” said Ekovich, who handles similar transactions throughout the country, ranging from marinas to ski resorts.

The River Hills golf course was designed by ‘Gentleman’ Joe Lee, who, according to golfadvisor.com, designed 146 courses in the second half of the 20th century, reshaping the landscape of Florida with 71 courses in the state, including Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club & Lodge outside of Orlando.