Former business partners chip-shot each other over Hillcrest Country Club.

Former business partners chip-shot each other in a battle over Hillcrest Country Club 

Former business partners chip-shot each other over Hillcrest Country Club.

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Hillcrest, at the time, required up to $550 a month. As membership declined, so too did the quality of the course.

"The way the club was going, to pay the fees it cost, it wasn't worth it," says Jim Glynn, an advertising executive and former Hillcrest member. "The food was gone. Events were gone. They weren't taking as good a care of the course."

The property was headed toward a foreclosure sale when Francis put it in bankruptcy — seven months after he had run off Clark.


Clark says his problems with Francis started in 2010. Francis' wife, Janis, was in charge of Hillcrest's financial ledgers. Clark says she couldn't keep the accounting straight, which caused Clark to attempt to get his 50-percent ownership in writing.

"David had made the statement before that if he wasn't married to our accountant, he would have fired her years ago," Clark testified in 2012.

Those tensions led to a May 10, 2011, confrontation at Hillcrest, where Clark was living in a small apartment. Francis fired Clark, turned off Clark's cell phone, stopped his health-insurance benefits, and shut off his access to the company's accounts.

Clark filed a lawsuit about a month later. The court ordered Francis to allow Clark back onto the grounds until the lawsuit was sorted out.

The trial record reads as though well-paid lawyers and a judge had to oversee a turf battle between fifth-graders. Francis complained that Clark left Hillcrest but not before taking such things as a 32-inch television and a $300 gun safe. Clark responded that Francis couldn't prove he had them.

At one point, attorneys spent considerable time trying to track down a gun that Francis had bought at Cabela's five years earlier. Francis said he bought the 40-caliber pistol, registered it in his name and left it with Clark at Hillcrest.

When Clark was rousted from the apartment, the gun was nowhere to be found. Francis' attorneys complained several times to the Jackson County judge overseeing the case that Clark wasn't giving it back. 

After the judge ordered Clark to return the gun, Clark said he couldn't find it.

The lawsuit did return a more substantive finding: Clark couldn't prove that he was a half-owner of anything because nothing was in writing.


Clark says he has lost in court because of the Francis family's stature in Kansas City.

"His family is old-money Kansas City. The judges all know him," Clark says. "I don't have a prayer. I'm not going to beat him."

Meanwhile, Francis brought Hillcrest out of bankruptcy and has now placed it on the market. He told the Kansas City Business Journal that he would consider selling it for $9 million. The October 3 article, which includes a photo of Francis on one of the greens holding the pin's flag taut to highlight the Hillcrest logo, says the club's membership is at 150, down from 600 in its heyday.

Membership now costs about $150 a month, which comes with preferred tee times, among other fringe benefits. But anyone can call the clubhouse nowadays and schedule a round.

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