With a golden golf club, Newmark Group chief operating officer Nathan Schauerte took a swing on his first day as the representative of the official new owner of the Sagebrush Golf and Sporting Club.

Saturday marked the official hand-off of the Quilchena-area golf course from receivership to the Langley-based development construction company.

Now closing out its sixth season, the golf course will see action on its original vision as a golfing destination under Newmark’s charge.

The takeover of Sagebrush marks Newmark Group’s first foray into golf course ownership after about a year of negotiations with the court-appointed receiver.

“I know some people wondered if a real estate development construction company has much in the way of understanding the path to develop a golf course and see it operate well,” Schauerte said.

A new temporary pro shop is one of the plans Langley-based construction company Newmark Group has in mind for Sagebrush Golf and Sporting Club.

A new temporary pro shop is one of the plans Langley-based construction company Newmark Group has in mind for Sagebrush Golf and Sporting Club.

“Obviously, we love what we see, and we just want to continue to evolve it.”

Schauerte said Newmark’s main goal is to move forward with development at the property, which was stop-and-go since its opening in 2009.

Helping steer that course will be the members of Four for Fore Investments Ltd. — Val Rundans, Calvin Payne, Roy Jeffrey and Peter Jeffrey — who will sit on the Sagebrush Golf and Sporting Club’s advisory board.

Four for Fore was the original group of investors behind PGA-winner Richard Zokol’s idea of an exclusive golf club catering to the business elite.

“To us, it keeps the flow,” Schauerte said of retaining the four original investors on the board.

Schauerte also unveiled three architectural renderings of planned improvements to Sagebrush: a new entrance, expansion of the Badlands Patio and Grill, and a new temporary pro shop.

He said plans include creating more of a destination feel, constructing a 32,000-square-foot clubhouse and hosting large-scale events such as weddings and corporate events.

The expansion of the Badlands Patio and Grill will begin mid-month as this season winds down, and is anticipated to be complete for the 2015 golf season.

The new temporary pro shop will go up across the road from where the current temporary pro shop is located and will also house the real estate and development office.

Schauerte said plans for real estate development — his company’s main venture — are also in the works.

“One of the things we intend to do here is develop and build, with full anticipation of bringing value to the valley and the community,” Schauerte said.

Sagebrush is also being re-branded with the change of ownership.

The course will maintain its semi-private status, although prices for public play aren’t set yet.

Schauerte said Newmark Group intends to own Sagebrush long-term and called it part of the company’s long-term hold strategy.

The course, which opened in 2009, was designed by Alberta-based golf course designer Rod Whitman.

Sagebrush has several awards to its name, including being voted best new course in Canada in 2009 in Golf Digest and SCOREGolf, as well as taking the No. 3 spot for best modern course in Canada in Golfweek in 2012.

Despite the accolades, membership sales at Sagebrush failed to take off with the corporate elite and the club sold only a few memberships.

Plans for major real estate development stalled and Sagebrush recorded losses of between $3 million and $5 million a year since 2009.

Schauerte said he couldn’t comment on the course’s debt in light of ongoing lawsuits with Zokol.

He also did not specify the purchase price, which he called a “fair deal.”

Sagebrush a favourite for Maryland golfer

When Maryland-based attorney David Harak calls Sagebrush world-class, he knows what he is talking about.

He has played over 1,040 golf courses in his life, in every state and 14 countries.

Perched above Nicola Lake in Quilchena’s ranchlands, Sagebrush Golf and Sporting Club ranks high among Harak’s favourite courses.

“It’s golf the way golf was meant to be played,” Harak said Saturday during the official announcement of Sagebrush’s new ownership.

He first played Sagebrush in the summer of 2012 on a side trip while travelling with his mother through the Canadian Rockies.

“I remember when they opened this place, they had a profile in a golf magazine,” he said. “I thought, ‘I’m going to go over and play that.’”

Sitting in the clubhouse waiting for his tee time, Harak was approached by a Sagebrush representative who suggested he join the club.

Harak said he dismissed the suggestion immediately.

“What are you, out of your mind? I live 5,000 miles away,” he said.

Harak set out to start playing, and after four holes, he was convinced.

“After the fourth hole I drove back and I said, ‘Let’s talk,’” he said.

He said the topography of the course lends itself to the drama of waiting to see where the ball ends up.

“It’s firm, and it’s fast,” Harak said. “The reason this course is so different is because it has probably the largest set of putting surfaces in all of North America. The fun begins at this course when you hit your shot onto the green and watch where your ball ends up.”

In 2013, Harak had some business in Seattle and Portland, and made it a point to swing by the course to play five times.

Saturday’s tournament marked his fourth time playing Sagebrush this year.

Harak also uses Sagebrush as his base for his quest to play each of the top 100 Canadian courses.

So far, he’s played 41 of those 100.

“‘Avid golfer’ is a bit of an understatement,” he said.