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Cape Cod Times By Sarah Shemkus
June 15, 2011

SANDWICH — At the upscale Ridge Club on Tuesday morning, golfers were loading their clubs onto carts, the maintenance staff was grooming the fairways — and an auctioneer was selling off the entire property to the highest bidder.

Nearly 100 spectators, mostly club and community members, watched as the operation was sold at foreclosure auction for $3 million. The buyer was Capmark Bank, the Utah-based financial institution that held the $6.2-million mortgage on the property.

"The bank has taken back the property, has engaged a management company and expects business to continue as usual," Bruce Barnett, an attorney representing the bank, said after the auction.

Barnett's $3 million bid on behalf of the bank was the first and only offer made during the auction, though there were four registered bidders in attendance.

The sale included the private 18-hole golf course, a 17,800-square-foot clubhouse, tennis facilities and all of the equipment and furnishings involved in the operation of the club.

Sequoia Golf Holdings, the golf management company that has run the 300-member club for more than a year, will continue to operate the facility. No interruptions in operations are expected, Sequoia executive Jody Graham said. "No changes, business as usual," he said.

The club's finances have remained strong, general manager Bob Higgins said.

"We're paying our vendors, our members are paying their dues," he said.

The change in ownership will not affect the club's 85 employees, all of whom will keep their jobs, he said. The club last changed hands in August 2007, when it was bought by CPG Ridge Club LLC for $5.9 million. CPG Ridge Club LLC has connections to prominent asset management firm the Carlyle Group. State corporations records place CPG Ridge Club's address at the Carlyle Group's offices in Washington, D.C. They also authorize Hayden Jones, who was a managing director at the firm at the time of the filing, to conduct business for CPG Ridge Club.

The Carlyle Group did not respond to a request for comment.

The Carlyle Group ran into some financial difficulties during the economic downturn. In 2008, affiliate company Carlyle Capital Corp., which was heavily invested in mortgage-backed securities, defaulted on about $16.6 billion in debt. Last year, the Carlyle Group lost $330 million when a Japanese mobile phone company it had invested in filed for bankruptcy.

The winner bidder, Capmark Bank, also has its share of financial difficulties. In November 2009, parent company Capmark Financial filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection; the company filed a reorganization plan in April.

The club was developed in the 1980s. Previous owner Mark Ventre bought the property in 2003 for $2.5 million.

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