In this September 2017 file photo, golfers make their way to the green at the Penobscot Valley Country Club in Orono. The course is up for auction next month in search of investors or a new owner. Credit: BDN file

Seeing that a property is up for auction can set off all kinds of bells and whistles.

That’s especially true if it is a popular, longtime fixture such as Penobscot Valley Country Club in Orono.

But Sean McCarthy, the operations director for Resurrection Golf LLC, which manages the course, said they are testing the waters through the auction process to see if there are interested investors.

His father, Kevin McCarthy, owns Resurrection LLC, the management company that bought PVCC in September 2017 from Harris Golf Inc.

Harris Golf Inc. had purchased the course in 2007 for $3 million.

The course and property is owned by Penobscot Valley LLC of which Kevin McCarthy is the managing member.

Sean McCarthy said the ownership is willing to retain a financial interest in the course and continue to run it, or sell it outright to the right entity.

“An auction is a good way to generate discussion and interest and then we will sort out which direction to go in,” he said. “We would like to partner with the right people and continue the work we’ve done. We’d like to continue to restore and preserve it.”

Sean McCarthy said Penobscot Valley LLC intends to let the process play out, but admitted finding private investors is difficult due to the financial constraints caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

That’s why an auction seemed like a sensible and worthwhile venture.

In addition to the 18-hole golf course, which was designed in 1924 by influential golf course architect Donald Ross, there is also a restaurant, clubhouse and pool.

Tranzon Auction Properties is running the auction for which sealed bids are due by 4 p.m. on Nov. 12.

When Kevin McCarthy, the former chief executive officer of UNUM U.S., purchased the course, Harris Golf Inc. hadn’t paid its property taxes since 2015 and owed the town of Orono $227,358.61.

The town of Orono placed a lien on the property.

The course had also deteriorated.

Sean McCarthy said Penobscot Valley LLC has put at least $500,000 into restoring the golf course while also working off the debt.

“There was a pretty significant amount of damage to 60 percent of the fairways when we took it over,” McCarthy said. “We had to renovate some of the fairways from scratch. We’ve made great progress. We’ve had a real solid year and we’re looking to continue that. That is what this is all about.”

McCarthy said despite the improvements, there is much more to do to continue the development of the course.

PVCC member George Jacobson praised Resurrection Golf LLC for its efforts since buying the course.

“I give Resurrection a lot of credit for how much they have helped the course to come back toward its previous great condition. They have put a lot of funding into the course and the clubhouse,” Jacobson said.

He said the course had been neglected in major ways for several years by Harris Golf, which left at least four of the fairways in need of major attention.

“By the end of the summer that first year, the fairways were at least green again and becoming playable. And they have come back remarkably well the last two years,” Jacobson said.

Resurrection Golf LLC also replaced the clubhouse roof and the fleet of gas carts with electric ones and they are installing new sprinkler heads.

Membership numbers have been solid, according to McCarthy. The owners have sent a memo to members telling them their paid memberships for next season will be honored.

“I love that property. It is such a beautiful place,” he said. “I’m happy we’re a part of it.”

McCarthy is thankful for how loyal and understanding the members have been during the renovation process.

Resurrection LLC also manages two other 18-hole courses, Bath Golf Club and Old Marsh Country Club in Wells, as well as Highlight Green Golf Club, a nine-hole layout in Topsham.