Real estate developer RXR is handing over day-to-day management of the 105-year-old Engineers Country Club to ClubCorp, a Dallas-based firm that runs more than 200 private clubs and will later assume ownership of the Roslyn Harbor venue.
ClubCorp has been helping operate the country club since 2017, when RXR purchased the 140-acre site and announced plans to build 92 condos on part of the property, said Joe Graziose, executive vice president of residential construction and development at RXR.
RXR spent $7 million upgrading Engineers and hired a golf course designer to map out ways to accommodate development, Graziose said. Now that RXR is seeking approval for its plans, the developer will have ClubCorp steer the club through the transition, he said.
"We wanted to really step back and get a world class operator in there," Graziose said. "When we go to construct this development, there is a reconfiguration that needs to be dealt with … and that's where a lot of ClubCorp's expertise comes in."
RXR plans to spend another $5 million on the 18-hole golf course if it's renovated to accommodate the condos, Graziose said. He said the 92 homes would be built on 18 acres and take about 28 months to construct. He was not able to provide a cost estimate for building the housing. The condos are anticipated to range in price from $1.85 million to $3.95 million, Graziose said.
ClubCorp chief development officer Tom Bennison said Engineers, which his company is now leasing, will become part of his company's portfolio when RXR subdivides and sells off homes on the property. The eventual sales price ClubCorp will pay for the club was not disclosed.
Club members are unlikely to notice the effects of the transition — or handoff, Bennison said.
"I can't even imagine much visible change whatsoever … in terms of the member experience, the on-site leadership team, the coaching that we will provide," he said.
Engineers bought the land in March 1917 and opened a course that has long been considered challenging. The club hosted the 1919 PGA Championship and the U.S. Amateur Championship in 1920. When RXR bought the property, the club was in need of capital investment and maintenance work, Graziose said.
Membership began to grow as RXR upgraded the club, Graziose said. During the pandemic, Engineers — like many golf and country clubs — saw its popularity skyrocket, with people looking for safe and socially-distant recreation activities, Bennison said. The club now has about 300 members — or twice the roster back in 2017, Graziose said. He said there are about 50 people on the club's waiting list.
Annual membership rates range from about $7,000 to $19,000 depending on which parts of the club people use, according to Graziose. Engineers has started charging a roughly $5,000 initiation fee, which Bennison said will soon rise to $10,000.
"When we first started managing Engineers, we couldn't get an initiation fee because the market wouldn't support the payment," Bennison said. "Now when you look at many of the clubs — in fact, I'd probably say most of the clubs — on Long Island are either at or near their capacity."
Engineers' members may also pay extra to have access to the 205 venues ClubCorp runs, which are concentrated in the U.S., Bennison said. ClubCorp operates Hamlet Golf & Country Club in Commack, Willow Creek Golf & Country Club in Mount Sinai and Wind Watch Golf & Country Club in Hauppauge, according to its website.
ClubCorp and RXR are looking at other clubs on Long Island and in Westchester that may be good candidates for similar development projects, but both executives said they couldn't share details about these sites.
"We're going to roll up our sleeves to see what else might be out there," Bennison said.