EdFinancial CEO buys Avalon golf course

Avalon Golf & Country Club in Lenoir City was sold at auction Thursday, but those who use the 150-acre facility will be able to keep doing so as they have before, the new owner announced.
Tony Hollin, chairman, president and CEO of Knoxville-based EdFinancial Services placed the winning bid of $814,000 for the property, said Rob Strickland, vice president of real estate for Furrow Auction Co.
After winning the bid, Hollin asked to approach the microphone and address the crowd, Strickland said.
“He announced in front of everyone that it was his intention to work with the homeowners to continue the operation of the golf course and make it even more successful than it has been,” Strickland said.
Hollin could not be reached Thursday for comment. Strickland said a key goal in the auction for owners of the property and area homeowners was to find a buyer who would continue operating the golf and country club.
“There was a huge crowd there of people who were interested in the golf course, people who live in the area and those who golf there,” Strickland said. “Tony put everyone at ease. When he finished his announcement, he got a standing ovation.”
The property, which was last appraised at more than $3.7 million according to Loudon County property assessor documents, has been in a holding company for heirs of the owners since 2011. The 18-hole golf course was founded in 1996 by developers Paul Gillenwater and David Burleson. The developers have owned it since, but Gillenwater died in 2005 and Burleson in 2012.
In 2011, Burleson Gillenwater and Associates, an LLC associated with the developers, acquired the property and has been holding it since. Strickland said the goal of the developers’ families was to find another owner-operator as no one was available to run the business.
The golf course was designed by architect Joe Lee and has a four-star rating from Golf Digest magazine. It is a par 72 course and has a practice facility with a driving range and putting green. The property also has a 10,489 square-foot building that houses a pro shop and restaurant.
Strickland said the golf course and country club will continue operating as the purchase of the property is finalized so “there will be as smooth a transition as possible.”
Hollin has been active in a number of community and professional organizations. In 2011, he and EdFinancial were awarded the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tennessee Area Council Children Are Reason for Excellence (C.A.R.E.) award for contributions to the quality of life for at-risk youth.
He was a member of the Leadership Knoxville Class of 2006, and has been active with the Knoxville Business Association, Nucleus Knoxville, Student Outreach Services, Education Finance Council and other organizations.