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Meck Commissioner Meier wants 'public review' of how country clubs received lower tax assessments

 The tax value of Quail Hollow Club dropped from $13.5 million to just under $10 million.
Quail Hollow Country Club
The tax value of Quail Hollow Club dropped from $13.5 million to just under $10 million.

Mecklenburg Commissioner Laura Meier said on Friday she wants a “public review” of how the county assessed the tax value of country clubs, after WFAE and the Charlotte Ledger reported that many saw their assessments drop significantly.

Quail Hollow Club in south Charlotte saw its tax value fall from $13.5 million in 2019 to just under $10 million this year.

“I understand the public outcry,” Meier said. “Because on the surface it looks like country clubs are not paying their fair share. But we have to understand it to fight it. And if people want to fight it, they need understand it.”

Meier said the review will be at the commissioners' April 4 meeting.

“I’m not 100% sure why they are being veiled at a lesser assessment,” she said. “People can come speak, come hear it, and decide for themselves. Knowledge is power.”

Quail Hollow is considered the nicest course in Charlotte. Golf Digest has said it’s the 97th nicest course in the country.

The club hosts the annual Wells Fargo Championship and it has hosted the President’s Cup. Quail Hollow will host the PGA Championship in 2025.

In an interview with WFAE earlier this week, Mecklenburg assessor Ken Joyner said his office hired a consultant who specializes in golf courses to help with those appraisals. He said the primary factor in determining the tax value of a course is the income it generates — not the value of the land.

“Quail Hollow doesn’t have a significant number of members, it doesn’t have a large income stream,” Joyner said.

Quail Hollow covers nearly 260 acres. SouthPark Mall could easily fit inside the course.

Joyner said that land is theoretically valuable if it were redeveloped for homes or businesses. But he said Quail Hollow and other clubs have likely placed restrictions on the property, mandating it remains a golf course.

“There’s probably restrictions on what that course can be used for,” Joyner said. “It will take a special vote of the board of directors to dissolve the golf course and that's something that would be very public.”

He added: “It is really just looking at the bottom line of what that golf course is worth in its current state.”

But the valuation appears to be at odds with the county’s own guidelines for how to appraise golf courses.

The county says there are six levels of golf courses, with six being rated the highest. A course rated a six has an average value of $1.1 million per hole. A course rated between a five and a six has an average value of $846,000 per hole.

That would mean Quail Hollow’s value would be between $19.8 million and $15 million.

But the assessor’s office says it’s not that nice: “Based on discussions with the county’s consultant — Kenneth Voss and Associates — Quail Hollow does not fall into the top category when compared to many courses nationally such as Pebble Beach, etc., which are considered in a top class or tier.”

The tax values for country clubs are not broken out by the value of the land and the value of the clubhouse. Joyner said they are all lumped together.

Other clubs also saw declines in their assessments:

  • Charlotte Country Club in Plaza Midwood fell from $18.8 million to $12.3 million — a more than 30% decline.
  • Carmel County Club’s value fell by more than 25%. 
  • Piper Glen fell by more than 50%, from $10.7 million to $5.3 million.

Some golf clubs in Charlotte have closed over the past decade to be redeveloped, as growth in the game stagnated. The Waverly mixed-use development south of Providence Road and I-485 was built on the defunct Charlotte Golf Links site. Ballantyne Corporate Park closed its nine-hole course and replaced it with a park and event space that now hosts outdoor festivals.

Some clubs saw their values stay flat, or even increase.

Myers Park Country Club, which recently renovated its clubhouse, saw its value remain at $16.5 million.

Raintree Country Club in south Charlotte saw its value increase by 30%, from $8.5 million to $11.3 million.

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Steve Harrison is WFAE's politics and government reporter. Prior to joining WFAE, Steve worked at the Charlotte Observer, where he started on the business desk, then covered politics extensively as the Observer’s lead city government reporter. Steve also spent 10 years with the Miami Herald. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, the Sporting News and Sports Illustrated.