HUDSON — A two-year legal battle has ended with Beacon Woods Golf Club set to switch hands for the first time in its 30-year history.
But the man buying the course? Not Brian Ferratto, who had twice sued the not-for-profit club for that opportunity.
Instead, the club is close to signing off on a nearly $2 million deal with Matt Lowman, the owner of the nearby Links golf course, said club president Clint Thaxton. The sale is expect to close in December, and Beacon Woods would officially become a public course.
That deal became possible only after Ferratto agreed this month to drop his lawsuit against the club, which has been struggling financially amid dwindling membership.
Ferratto, a retired home builder from New York with a home in Hudson, had found some members who wanted to sell the course to him. He said he would assume the club's $1.2 million debt and put in nearly $500,000 in improvements.
But he ran into opposition from the club's board of directors.
In May 2008, club members signed enough petitions in favor of holding a special meeting to vote on selling the course to Ferratto. But the board of directors declined to accept the petitions, saying they did not meet certain requirements of the by club bylaws. So Ferratto sued in July 2008.
That case ended in a settlement in which the board of directors agreed to hold the vote. Members voted that September to approve a petition to sell the club's assets to Ferratto, but directors later said they were the ones with the power to sell the club — and they had reservations about his offer, which they called vague.
Complicating matters: Not long after the ballots had been counted, Lowman floated his first $2 million proposal to buy the course. Board directors were interested — something Ferratto's lawyer compared to a groom finding another bride on the way to the church.
So Ferratto sued again in October 2008. Since that time, the complicated case has been moving at a slow pace through the court system.
Back in June, Judge Lowell Bray issued a final judgment in favor of Beacon Woods, agreeing that Ferratto had breached the earlier settlement agreement by not releasing a claim on the club.
Ferratto said this week that he dropped his challenge to that judgment only because his lawyers told him it could be at least another two years — and an even bigger legal bill — before the hope of an outcome in his favor.
"Never mind about the members trying to sell it and the directors acting like they owned it," he said. "I did everything by the book. I knew it was a great business. I got caught up in this court system that's really screwed up."
Thaxton said Lowman's offer was far more concrete than the one Ferratto had pushed. He added he thinks the sale will result in a good outcome.
The proceeds will go toward paying off the club's debts, and whatever is left over goes to charity, he said.
"We think it serves the community and the homeowners," he said. "It was important that we wanted to have it sold but that all depended on someone who has the same philosophy. (Lowman) has demonstrated that he's done well in the golf course community."
Lowman did not return a phone message left at the Links. Ferratto, meanwhile, has resigned his membership from the Beacon Woods Golf Club.
Jodie Tillman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6247.