Ray Mundy stopped mid-sentence to scan his BlackBerry. An e-mail had just been pushed through. He needed to show somebody.
Mundy turned in his chair to interrupt the lunch conversation the table over. He held up the silver phone for Gregg Hemann to read.
The wire transfer was a go.
Jones Creek Golf Club was under new ownership, bought Oct. 16 by Jones Creek Investors LLC, an investment group that includes Mundy and Hemann, Jones Creek's golf director.
Mundy resumed his sentence where he had left off.
The investors had taken over management of the golf course March 15 with the intention of eventually buying it.
The course was thought to have been purchased last year by brothers Danny and Casey Cope. But the Copes had been granted only a temporary operating agreement after placing a $1 million down payment. They filed for bankruptcy in January, and the course was turned back over to its previous owners, led by Aiken resident Weldon Wyatt.
The Copes' $1 million down payment was transferred in September 2007 from SafeVest LLC to Augusta-based real estate law firm Trotter Jones LLP, according to a Security and Exchange Commission lawsuit. The SEC filed the suit in May, accusing SafeVest of running a Ponzi scheme that targeted Christians. The Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested Jon G. Ervin, listed in the SEC complaint as the company's director.
It appears the Cope family will be leaving town about the time the new owners take control.
A public conversation between Rusty Cope and a friend on the social networking site Facebook reveals the Copes could leave their Jones Creek home before the end of the month. Rusty had previously told the friend he was moving in with his brother, Danny, who lives in Jones Creek. Later, when asked if he was leaving, Rusty responded, "That's what they tell me."
He would later write the following: "Realistically I think we are shooting for sometime between the 15th and the end of (October) to pick up and leave."
The new Jones Creek owners are ready for the challenge of revamping the course's image. When they took over in March, six bunkers on the back nine were without sand, and weeds ran wild.
"It was a disaster," course superintendent John Steele said. "It was scary. But we've come miles."
Hemann said the course's membership is down and that the priority would now be to bring it back up. The course boasts a 2,700-square-foot teaching facility, which includes areas for video swing analysis and one of six Taylor Made fitting areas in the country.
Jones Creek is open to the public, a facet its new owners and staff are trying to push.
"We're trying to break down those barriers," general manager Carlos Santos said.
A few minutes after Mundy shared his e-mail, a man entered the Jones Creek dining room, glanced to the televisions in the corners, and asked how the market was doing that day.
Both televisions showed highlights from the Major League Baseball playoffs.
Another man joked that the news must not be good if they were keeping the televisions tuned to sports.
Mundy said he remembered thinking at one point during the process that the deal was secure barring a complete economic meltdown. Soon after, investment giant Lehman Brothers filed for chapter 11. Textron Financial, the Jones Creek investment group's lender, told the group to move quickly or money might not be available by the end of the weekend.
"There's different levels of risk we've all taken," Mundy said. "We have to see this through. It doesn't scare me. If we do what we say, we can make this a successful entity."
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