Group led by NFL owner buying golf club for $11.3M

Robert McNair is shown at a Houston Texans event in 2008 with his wife Janice.

A group led by Houston Texans owner Robert McNair prevailed as the sole bidder Wednesday for an exclusive Johns Island golf course with an $11.3 million cash offer.

The billionaire expects to finalize the acquisition of the Golf Club at Briar’s Creek in mid-May.

U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge John Waites rejected a competing but slightly higher $11.8 million bid from a New York real estate firm. Waites ruled at a hearing in Charleston that the offer did not qualify under the auction rules.

McNair is a founding member of the ultra-private Briar’s Creek, which filed for bankruptcy protection in February after experiencing a steep drop in revenue during and after the last recession.

The NFL owner said his group plans to form a new club with a strong financial base. Memberships from the existing ownership group will be transferred.

The deal includes a commitment to invest $2 million into Briar’s Creek, on top of the $11.3 million purchase price for the Rees Jones-designed 18-hole course off River Road and other assets.

Dozens of club members attended Wednesday’s sale hearing. Most of them supported McNair’s bid, even though they will lose part of their initiation fees, according to testimony.

McNair, who made his fortune in the energy business, graduated from the University of South Carolina, and wife Janice is an Orangeburg native and Columbia College graduate. They have owned a home at Kiawah Island for years.

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Briar’s Creek opened in 2002 and was named the best new private course for that year by Golf Digest. Its members include General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt and former Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino.

Contact John McDermott at 937-5572.