Cameron Smith buys stake in Jacksonville private golf club to be renovated by Jim Furyk

Glen Kernan Golf and Country Club’s new ownership group has one Claret Jug to its credit, plus a U.S. Open trophy won by its new course designer.

The Jacksonville, Florida-based private club was purchased Friday by local developer Corner Lot, which counts 2022 British Open champion Cam Smith as an investor and 2003 U.S. Open champion Jim Furyk as heading up the course renovation. Terms of the sale were not disclosed.

Smith, who defected to LIV Golf shortly after winning the Open at St. Andrews in 2022, the same year he won the Players Championship, has struggled to find a permanent place to play in his adopted hometown after losing access to TPC Sawgrass in the wake of his leaving for LIV.

“Andy Allen (CEO of Corner Lot) kept saying I want you to meet with Cam Smith, and that’s how it happened,” said Travis Norman, an executive with Hampton Golf, which will manage Glen Kernan. “I went and met with his business team, and he’s in.”

Smith may have to wait a little while to make Glen Kernan, which was designed by Robert Walker and opened in 1999, his home course. The plan is to shut it down for a year and renovate the course, which sits on 260 acres. Lot lines and home sites are more removed from the golf holes than on some other courses in the area, leaving wide corridors for the golf.

“There’s a significant amount of deferred maintenance to be addressed in the first year to make it a premier club in the area,” Norman said. “We know that demand is high for a high-end private club with limited membership, and the supply is lower in this market.”

Norman said they also will expand the clubhouse and freshen other amenities at its athletic park including pickleball, tennis and a fitness center.

Furyk, a 16-time winner on the PGA Tour who at age 53 remains active on PGA Tour Champions, already has been engaged by another course to be managed by Hampton Golf: Glynlea Country Club at Wylder, a new community planned for Port St. Lucie on the southeast coast of Florida.

“I got the opportunity to walk the first six holes at Glynlea with Jim, and just to hear him talk and see the shaping and his green complexes and bunker design, it was very impressive,” said Norman, whose company already manages Palencia Club, Blue Sky Golf Club and Eagle Harbor among others on Florida’s First Coast. “So his design ability coupled with his knowledge and passion for this golf course made him an obvious choice. Plus, he’s been around this golf course for 20 years. He’s played it with his son and father and he knows every mound on this golf course.”

Furyk has been a longtime member at Glen Kernan. His parents eat there regularly. Furyk said the course is one exit away from Pablo Creek Golf Club, where he practices often, and so it will be convenient to make regular visits.

“The golf course has a lot of promise and good bones,” Furyk said. “Our plan is to make a few holes a little more playable for our average golfers and extend some tee boxes to lengthen the course for our better players.”

Asked if he expects Smith to be involved in some of the design decisions, Furyk said, “I’m sure he’ll be interested. I think Andy has let him know that he can have some input on the practice facilities (at the double-sided range) and such, so I’ll talk to him a little bit about that. I’m sure Cam will want some privacy at the back of the range to get his work done and get ready for tournament golf.” (Smith’s management team didn’t return a call seeking comment.)

Friday was the last day the club was open for play as Corner Lot officially assumed control, and construction is scheduled to begin next week. “We want to create the premier experience in this market,” Norman said. “We think we have the right footprint, the right designer and we’re going to make something special.”

The seller (the Hodges family) also sold land to a local developer who plans to build in the neighborhood of 100 homes.

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek