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Plant City Observer Friday, Jul. 28, 2017 1 year ago

Legal issues continue to plague Walden Lake golf course

The course’s current management is being sued for nearly $300k in various Hillsborough County suits
by: Daniel Figueroa IV Staff Writer

For most, it would be a no-brainer, a dream come true. For $10 you could have the chance to restore a once celebrated golf course and country club to the glory of its heyday, when it and Disney World were two of the most exciting things coming to Florida.

Professional Golf Global Group President Lynn Archibald took that deal. A deal that has embroiled his company in a set of lawsuits totaling nearly $300,000, plus damages, as the company seeks to find investors for proposed refurbishments to the blighted course and representation in separate legal proceedings that could cost PGGG control of the Walden Lake Golf and Country Club.

Archibald has had control over the course since entering into a purchase agreement with Visions Golf, who owned the course at the time, in the summer of 2015. According to Archibald and Alice Huneycutt, Vision Golf’s attorney, a deed was signed, but placed in escrow pending conditions to be met by both parties. On April 15, the $10 deed was finally recorded.

Archibald now says he is the owner of the property, but Honeycutt says he never met the conditions and disputes the validity of the deed. None of it may matter. Before Archibald

The weathered awning of the club’s fitness center.

recorded the deed, Today’s Bank, owner of the $2 million mortgage on the property, began foreclosure proceedings against Visions. Archibald has tried to assert his interest in the case and intervene and, as of a July 18 hearing, he has 30 days to do so officially.

As a corporation, PGGG needs to be represented in court by an attorney. Despite frequent claims that his “attorneys actually don’t like this idea” of his payment plan for improvements to the course, he told the court he needs time to find representation. Court documents show Archibald is also seeking representation for at least one of the suits against him. That suit was filed on June 19, the same day he presented the Walden Lake Community Association with his latest plans for the golf course, claiming his “attorney” didn’t like them.

Archibald presented Walden Lake with a three-phase plan to propel the golf course and country club to heights beyond the days when it was the center jewel of Walden Lake, a course visited by professional golfers and celebrities like Willie Nelson, who’d drop by when in town for the Florida Strawberry Festival.

“We were constantly at the clubhouse for dinners and brunches,” Alicia Powell said. “It was the place to be.”

Alicia and her husband, Bob, have lived in Walden Lake for 24 years. They remember the days when the club was a premier Central Florida destination, when it was the go-to spot in Plant City for weddings, banquets and photos. When it shines, it shines bright, they said.

Now, the clubhouse seems more like the setting of dystopian fiction. Large spider webs cover windows of the old restaurants and gutter openings. The green-painted banisters fade away to gray wood underneath and windows are boarded up here and there. In the center of the clubhouse, a once-lively fountain is stagnant, green with algae. Doors are propped open with old furniture spilling out like it was abandoned in a hurry.

Many of the course’s greens and standtraps are unkempt.

Throughout the 36-hole course, greens and sandtraps are patchy and littered with trash. Few areas of the course have been maintained, some pushing the boundaries of the city’s code enforcement standards.

Archibald has pleaded with the community to have faith in his vision for the course, one he said is born of love for the community. Though most believe he has had good intentions, the ability to trust is waning.

“We’ve been bamboozled so long, it’s going to be hard to trust,” Bob Powell said.

As Archibald seeks an attorney to represent PGGG and continues a potentially futile attempt to gain the community’s trust, he faces at least three lawsuits that could pose an immediate red flag to potential investors.

Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A. vs Professional Golf Global Group

In the largest suit, PGGG is being sued by Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A. for payments that were never made on 60 golf carts, according to documents from the Hillsborough County Court. According to documents available through the court, Archibald entered into a lease for the agreement with Yamaha in July 2015. He was supposed to make monthly payments of $240 from November 2015 through October 2019.

“PGGG has defaulted under the equipment lease by failing to make payments due on Oct. 28, 2016, and thereafter,” the suit reads.

Yamaha is seeking a judgement of $169,349.04 along with interest, default interest, late fees, attorney fees and “other costs and expenses.”

The case remains open.

Huynh, Ann vs Archibald, Lynn Van

Trash collects on the Lakes Course.

In another case, Ann Huynh is suing Archibald and PGGG for $77,000 for failure to repay a $70,000 loan Huynh gave to Archibald in October 2016. According to court documents, Huynh lent Archibald $70,000 for the “sole purpose of operating and making improvements to a golf course under the name of Professional Golf Global Group, LLC.”

According to the documents, Archibald was supposed to pay Huynh back by Dec. 31, 2016, which he allegedly did not.

Archibald responded to the suit saying he needed time to get an attorney. However, the response was written July 11, two days after his deadline to respond to the court. The court then issued a default judgment against Archibald on July 18.

Today’s Bank vs Professional Golf Global Group, LLC

Despite the golf course undergoing foreclosure proceedings between Visions and Today’s Bank, Archibald has repeatedly assured Walden Lake residents that he has a deal with Today’s Bank to take over the Visions loan.

According to court documents, Archibald did, indeed, have a contract to purchase the Visions loan. What he hadn’t said was he was supposed to pay Today’s Bank a $50,000 deposit for the purchase of the $2 million loan. Today’s Bank alleges Archibald never made the payment and filed a breach of contract against him on June 30, seeking the owed, non-refundable deposit of $50,000.

Archibald did not respond to a request for comment by press time.

Daniel Figueroa IV is a Staff Writer at the Plant City Times & Observer. He has been covering Plant City since 2017. Previously, he was the politics and veteran affairs reporter at the Ledger of Lakeland. He probably wants to ride motorcycles and trade books with...

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