Stonebridge Golf Club Continues to Shine

By Shane Sharp, Contributor

MINERAL SPRINGS, NC – If Stonebridge’s perfectly coifed bentgrass greens, lush winter rye fairways, and country club style service are any indication, the Rich Osborne designed golf course is coming out of bankruptcy quite nicely.

Missouri resident James F. Hirsch acquired the par-72 championship golf course on Aug. 10. Hirsch was the original lender at Stonebridge, which opened for play in 1997, and will own and operate the course through his entity, AnnaCar Golf, LLC.

Hirsch has brought in Signet Golf Associates to run the course. Signet is a golf management firm based in Pinehurst that specializes in upscale private, semi-private and daily fee golf courses. The company operates two other Charlotte area courses: Rocky River in Concord, and Crescent Club in Salisbury.

“This is a new beginning for Stonebridge,” said Signet golf partner Barry Embler at the course’s re-opening Tuesday. “We will elevate the maintenance and marketing campaigns. The course is already ahead of the competition because of its natural beauty and its playability.”

Stonebridge never closed its doors during its bankruptcy proceedings, and it continued to pump out one of the best golf courses for the money in the Charlotte area. recently named Stonebridge as the No. 1 Golfing Value in the Metrolina area, and director of golf Tim Mervosh said that the course never wavered in its commitment to its members and the playing public.

“There is no way that someone would know (that we were bankrupt) by coming out and playing the course,” Mervosh said. “One thing that we have never touched in our budget are the things that affect the members and the guests. We have gone to our new owner and said we have to have this for the golf course. We cut back on advertising, and that hurt the amount of play some. But our conditions and service are as good as ever.”

Mervosh said there would not be any major changes to the golf course, but maintenance efforts would be stepped up, and the staff would be shored up as well.

“Our conditions are already excellent, but it’s the people that work here who really make it special,” he said. “We hire people with a passion for the game of golf.”

Signet Golf will retain both Mervosh and superintendent Brent Thompson. To assist Thompson, AnnaCar recently invested more than a half million dollars in new high tech turf maintenance equipment.

“Brent displayed an amazing ability to keep the course in good condition with limited resources during the ownership transition period,” said Signet partner Peter Dejak. “Now that he has increased resources, Stonebridge will no doubt become one of the best maintained courses around.”

Stonebridge will continue to operate as a semi-private facility for the foreseeable future, with an emphasis on growing its membership. A new membership program has been implemented with four levels, including full golf, corporate, associate and junior memberships.

Sharp’s Take

I was out at Stonebridge for media day Tuesday and the course is as awesome as ever. If ever a facility deserved to come out of bankruptcy smelling like freshly cut bentgrass, it is Stonebridge. Since opening in 1997, this place has done everything by the book (except for accounting, I suppose). The layout is one of the best in Charlotte.

There is not a bad hole, and I would go so far as to say that there are four or five incredible holes that rank among Charlotte’s best. Ask anyone that knows anything about golf around here, and they’ll tell you that Stonebridge’s greens are some of the best. You should see them now – the bentgrass is cropped low, but the turf is still lush. Designer Rich Osborne stayed true to golf’s roots with this course, and he made a concerted effort to make Stonebridge walkable by placing tee boxes and green close to each other, and by providing walking shortcuts along the fairways.

Shane SharpShane Sharp, Contributor

Shane Sharp is vice president of Buffalo Communications, a golf and lifestyle media agency. He was a writer, senior writer and managing editor of from 1997 to 2003.

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