Sunday, May 19, 2019

The Week That Was, may 19, 2019

     The city of Bloomington, Minnesota and a charitable foundation have floated an idea to revitalize the moribund Hyland Greens Golf & Learning Center and create what a proponent has described as “the home of golf in Minnesota.” If the deal is consummated, PGA Reach Minnesota will raise the money for a course overhaul led by Nicklaus Design, lease the 60-acre property, and assume management of the city-owned nine-hole, par-3 layout, which has in recent years suffered from what’s politely been called “a continued gap between expenses and revenue.” The course would be re-designed especially for juniors, and, using a model that was pioneered elsewhere, it would be flanked by a home for the Minnesota Golf Hall of Fame, classrooms, office and event space, a 20,000-square-foot clubhouse, and indoor golf practice areas. Until PGA Reach stepped into the picture, the city had considered selling Hyland Greens to a residential developer.

     Pipeline Overflow – India’s Golf Industry Association, a group created to grow the game in the world’s largest democracy, has floated a plan to build 10 golf courses. As best I can tell, however, the group hasn’t announced a construction schedule, identified the locations (except to say that the courses will be built “across the country”), and, most importantly, said how it plans to pay for the work. . . . Though yet another year has passed without a groundbreaking for a new golf course in Cuba, a Chinese news service reports that the developers behind the much-discussed Bellomonte Golf & Country Club aim to “begin construction works in 2020.” When we last heard, Hong Kong-based Beijing Enterprises Holdings, Ltd., had partnered with a Cuban group to develop Bellomonte, which is to take shape in a fishing village located a half-hour’s drive east of Havana. . . . A huge expanse (6,340 acres) of land in the state of Osun, in Nigeria, has been allocated for Oranmiyan New Town, which has been master-planned to include 3,000 housing units, a retail/commercial area, “uninterrupted electricity,” a polo ground, tennis and squash clubs, a botanical garden, “good road networks,” and an 18-hole golf course.

     Pipeline Overflow Overflow – Siam Country Club’s fourth course, a Brian Curley-designed layout dubbed Rolling Hills, is scheduled to open in September. The club, in golf-happy Pattaya, Thailand, has a well-deserved reputation for high-quality golf, and Golfasian believes that its Old course, an Ichisuke Izumi design, “should be on every golfer's bucket list of courses to play.” . . . Before the end of the year, the Dakak Resort, on Mindanao Island in the Philippines, expects to debut the second nine of its Greg Norman-designed golf course. The resort promises “an unforgettable experience” on the waterfront venue, which aims to take golf in the scandalously repressive nation “to a place it hasn’t been.” . . . After more than two years of construction, the city of Edina, Minnesota has unveiled Richard Mandell’s re-do of Braemar Golf Course. The new 18-hole track is all that remains of a larger complex that’s been on the endangered list since 2013, if not before, and most likely represents a last stand for municipal golf in the Minneapolis suburb.

     With a decision informed by “our hearts, not our heads,” a group of members have acquired Blandford Club, a financially troubled venue in suburban Springfield, Massachusetts that’s operated since 1909. The price: $200,000, plus an assumption of the club’s debts. “We are just a group of people who love the course and didn’t want to see it go,” the leader of the new, five-member ownership group told the Springfield Republican. “We made a commitment to keep it open, and we are trying to do what we can to bring it back.” The new owners feared that Blandford and its nine-hole golf course would be replaced with houses. Now known as Blandford Country Club, the 56-acre property was “getting older” and suffering from “deteriorating membership.”

     Surplus Transactions – Sterling Golf Management has agreed to sell Shattuck Golf Club, a 28-year-old venue in suburban Manchester, New Hampshire, to Doni Ash, a local restaurateur. Shattuck features an 18-hole, Brian Silva-designed course that Golf Digest once ranked as the 43rd hardest in the United States. . . . Bicknell Country Club, a going concern in Vincennes, Indiana since the mid 1920s, has changed hands. Dan and Michelle Shepherd are the new owners of Bicknell (it now operates as High Pointe Golf Course), which features an 18-hole, 5,800-yard course. The Shepherds told the Vincennes Sun-Commercial that they aim to restore the vibe Bicknell had in the 1980s, when it was “packed and the course shape was terrific.” . . . If they can raise $3 million, Dennis and Luann Sampson will buy Vista Royale Golf & Country Club, the centerpiece of a seniors-only community in Vero Beach, Florida. A local newspaper reports that Vista Royale’s 27-hole complex isn’t profitable, but the Sampsons believe the loss of the courses “would have an effect on our property values.” A negative effect, it should be noted.

      Duly Noted – Rankings may be distasteful to many course designers, but Mike Keiser knows their value. “They are extremely important,” the developer of Bandon Dunes and other impeccable golf properties said in an interview with Bandon Western World. “I would like to say they are incidental, but in the golf world, everybody follows them. And I’ve found they are accurate from an architectural view. I think if you talk to any golf raters, they would agree.” . . . Sweetens Cove Golf Club, the low-budget, no-amenities marvel outside Chattanooga, Tennessee, isn’t operating on a shoestring anymore. The five-year-old venue, by all accounts one of the world’s finest nine-hole courses, has attracted several new investors this year, notably Andy Roddick, the tennis star, and Peyton Manning, the retired quarterback, restaurateur, and insurance-company pitchman. . . . Budget cuts may spell the end of as many as four of the 10 municipal golf courses in Louisville, Kentucky. No final decisions have been made, and proposals from private-sector operators will be solicited, but the city has determined that it could save $550,000 if it pulls the plug on a quartet of its properties.

     In compliance with recently issued European laws regarding data collection, I’ve been asked to provide a statement about my use of the data that’s collected about those of you who read the World Golf Report. So here’s what I have to say on the subject: I don’t collect any data, and I don’t put any cookies into your computer. That being said, here’s some language that Google, the company that maintains this slice of cyberspace, would probably approve of: “We and our partners use cookies on this site to improve our service, perform analytics, personalize advertising, measure advertising performance, and remember website preferences. By using the site, you consent to these cookies.”

Sunday, May 12, 2019

The Week That Was, may 12 2019

     Roy Case, who unapologetically designed courses that, in his words, “the average golfer can enjoy,” died late last month, just days short of what would have been his 85th birthday.
     Although he was typically identified as a British architect (he was born in Wimbledon, England), Case lived for several years in Jamaica, and he began designing golf courses from a base in Florida way back in the late 1970s. He never made a name for himself outside golf circles, largely because he was out of step with the prevailing design fashions of the 1980s and 1990s. Those years were the heyday of over-indulgent golf architecture, and Case disdained courses that, to his eye, looked as if “they were designed to be photographed rather than played.”
     In a 2008 interview with Golf Club Atlas, Case celebrated the demise what he characterized as the “torture-by-golf” era of golf architecture and encouraged his colleagues to create playable tracks for fair to middling amateurs – the golfers he correctly understood to be “the foundation of the industry.” He worked mostly in Florida (his portfolio there includes Okeeheelee Golf Course in West Palm Beach and Osprey Point Golf Club in Boca Raton), but he also completed courses in Illinois (Mill Creek Golf Club in Geneva), Mississippi (The Refuge in Flowood), New Jersey (New Jersey National Golf Club in Basking Ridge), and New York (the now-defunct Minisceongo Golf Club in Pomona). Along the way, he became known for designing courses on landfills, such as Park Ridge Golf Course in Lake Worth, Florida and Wildcat Golf Club in Houston, Texas. (He even taught a class on the subject at Harvard Design School.)
     Case was also generous with his time, and on several occasions he shared ideas with me as I was beginning my career in golf journalism. He always left me with something to think about.

     In an effort to jump-start international tourism, an economic-development group has initiated plans to develop a resort, including a golf course, in what’s said to be a vacation destination along Bangladesh’s southeastern coast. The Sabrang Tourism Park, as it’s currently being called, will take shape on more than 1,000 acres just outside Cox’s Bazar, which Wikipedia declares to be the home of “the longest natural sea beach in the world.” The resort has been master-planned to include several hotels and eateries (one of them a “floating restaurant”), an aquarium, eco-tourism attractions, entertainment venues, duty-free shops, a hospital, and the aforementioned golf course. At least part of the resort is scheduled to open next year. And if Golf Digest’s count is accurate, the golf course would be Bangladesh’s 16th.

     Desolation Row – The National Golf Foundation has determined that 198.5 of what it clumsily calls “18-hole equivalent courses” closed last year, and a keen industry observer recently said that our industry needs to draw the curtains on 500 to 1,000 more to reach the much-desired equilibrium between supply and demand. With those numbers in mind, here are some venues that are going or already gone.
   – Santa Clara Golf & Tennis Club, a 32-year-old venue in the heart of California’s Silicon Valley, will close in October. The club, which features an 18-hole, Robert Muir Graves-designed golf course and “the toughest par-3 holes in the South Bay,” will be replaced with what promises to be “a city within a city of entertainment, food, retail, shopping, offices, and residential.”
   – War Memorial Golf Course, a long-threatened municipal facility in Little Rock, Arkansas, will reportedly close next month. The Arkansas Times thinks that the par-64 track, a Works Progress Administration project, may soon be joined on the dustbin of the city’s history by Hindman Park Golf Course.
   – Pleasant Hill Golf Course, in suburban Reading, Pennsylvania, closed at the end of last year’s golf season and doesn’t appear likely to reopen. The owners of the 18-hole, executive-length layout have offered their 102 acres for sale, with a price of $3.5 million.
   – Generals Ridge Golf Course, one of four money-losing venues owned and managed by Prince William County, Virginia, is on the endangered list and could close later this year. The 18-hole, Jerry Slack-designed track, said to be “one of the most challenging courses in the DC region,” has reportedly lost more than $250,000 annually of late.
   – Papio Greens Golf Center, a 17-year-old property in Papillion, Nebraska, has closed “suddenly” and “permanently,” according to WOWT-TV. The center and its 18-hole, executive-length course are owned by Southridge Church, which hasn’t explained why it pulled the plug.
   – Vista Hills Country Club, a nearly half-century-old venue in El Paso, Texas, is reportedly “being forced to close its doors” due to “financial strain” caused by a loss of members. The club features an 18-hole course that was co-designed by Bruce Devlin and Robert Von Hagge.
   – Woodlands Country Club will likely soon be added to the list of defunct courses in Florida. Pending a successful rezoning, Clublink will sell the struggling club and its 36-hole, Devlin/Von Hagge golf complex, to a residential developer.
   – Bar Harbor Golf Course, in greater Bangor, Maine, won’t operate this year, and the family that owns the 50-year-old facility says that it won’t reopen “under our watch.” Bar Harbor features an 18-hole, Phil Wogan-designed golf course, and it’s reportedly on the market for $2.49 million.
   – Summit Chase Country Club, a 46-year-old venue in suburban Atlanta, Georgia, wants to replace two-thirds of its 27-hole, Ward Northrup-designed golf complex with a gated community for “active and mobile” seniors. A final decision on a requested rezoning hasn’t been made, but the proposal has received a preliminary approval.

   In compliance with recently issued European laws regarding data collection, I’ve been asked to provide a statement about my use of the data that’s collected about those of you who read the World Golf Report. So here’s what I have to say on the subject: I don’t collect any data, and I don’t put any cookies into your computer. That being said, here’s some language that Google, the company that maintains this slice of cyberspace, would probably approve of: “We and our partners use cookies on this site to improve our service, perform analytics, personalize advertising, measure advertising performance, and remember website preferences. By using the site, you consent to these cookies.”

Sunday, May 5, 2019

The Week That Was, may 5, 2019

     As part of a “signing ceremony” that took place in Washington, DC – far from their usual places of business – BRG Group and Nicklaus Design revealed the forthcoming development of another golf course in Vietnam. The unnamed 18-hole track will take shape in an unidentified area of Quảng Nam Province, an expanse southwest of Đà Nẵng that’s famed for its production of Saigon cinnamon. Unfortunately, a press release didn’t say when the construction would begin or explain why BRG’s chairman, Madame Nguyen Thi Nga, came all the way to in our nation’s capital to make the announcement. Nor did it mention that only six months ago the partners disclosed that a course would “soon” be built at BRG Ruby Tree Golf Resort, outside Hải Phòng, and that ground would be broken “in the near future” on layouts in Hà Nam Province, in the northern part of the nation, and in Huế, a city north of Đà Nẵng. And, speaking of Đà Nẵng, Golfasian reports that the site of Nicklaus’ new nine at BRG Đà Nẵng Golf Resort “is being cleared for construction,” with the course expected to be playable a year from now.

     Pipeline OverflowIt took nearly five years, but Kevin Gaughan and the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy have negotiated a “framework of cooperation” on a long-simmering plan to bring a pair of Nicklaus-designed golf courses to Buffalo, New York. The agreement is non-binding, but it indicates that the parties are making progress. . . . Gil Hanse’s first course in Thailand, Ballyshear Golf Links in suburban Bangkok, is scheduled to open early next year. The 18-hole layout, inspired by C. B. Macdonald’s Lido Golf Club on New York’s Long Island, is taking shape on property formerly occupied by the Yoshiharu Aihara-designed track at Kiarti Thani Country Club. Hanse, who’s “totally transforming the landscape,” has promised to deliver “classic, unique golf holes” and “a very interesting golf course to play over and over again.” . . . Details are practically non-existent, but a developer named Ernesto Báez has apparently set out to build “a pioneering project” outside Chetumal, the capital of Quintana Roo, Mexico. A local news group reports that Báez’s Caribe Country Club “aims to attract a new tourist segment” with houses, a marina, and a golf course.

     Michael Dell’s investment group is under contract to buy Boca Raton Resort & Club, a 337-acre venue that it views as “irreplaceable real estate in a rapidly growing South Florida market.” MSD Partners didn’t announce a price, but in a press release it says that it expects to close on the transaction within weeks. The resort, which dates from the mid 1920s, features more than 1,000 hotel rooms, meeting space, a marina, a spa, seven swimming pools, 30 tennis courts, an assorts of places to eat and drink, and a pair of 18-hole golf courses. (Its claim to golf claim is its Resort course, originally a William Flynn layout that was redesigned by Gene Bates in the late 1990s.) Blackstone Group, the seller, bought the resort in 2004, when it acquired the assets of Boca Resorts, Inc. Blackstone put the property on the market in 2014.

     Duly Noted – Greg “the Living Brand” Norman, whose brand is now co-owned by a marketing firm called Authentic Brands Group, has signed on as a “brand ambassador” for a company that offers private-jet services. Because he spends “an incredible amount of time in the air globetrotting for business and pleasure,” the LB says that his new gig is “a natural fit for my brand.” . . . Following in the footsteps of Scott McCarron, Scott Piercy, and the omnipresent Greg Norman, Bubba Watson has agreed to endorse CBD products. The message ought to be clear: Golf’s prevailing demographic – older people with a lot of aches and pains – is made to order for CBD providers. . . . Seeing as how we’re dutifully following the money, I’m obliged to mention that Individual #1’s trips to his golf clubs have so far cost U.S. taxpayers an estimated $99 million. Also, he’s said to be on pace to make 301 such visits by the time his term ends in early 2021, a number that nearly equals the 306 that Barack Obama registered during his eight years in office.

     Duly Noted Once Again – The office manager who embezzled $150,000 or more from David McLay Kidd’s design firm has avoided a trial by entering no-contest pleas to four of the 16 charges that authorities in Bend, Oregon filed against her. The woman could spend four years in prison. . . . “Clueless” Keith Pelley claims to be “perplexed” by the criticism that the European Tour has received for staging tournaments in Saudi Arabia. The commissioner told Reuters that the events, one played earlier this year and another scheduled for 2020, are “the right decision for our tour” but reportedly failed answer questions about the kingdom’s wretched human-rights record. . . . Just weeks after it acquired OB Sports Golf Management, consolidation-minded Troon has swooped up another one of its golf-industry competitors. The Scottsdale, Arizona-based management colossus has picked up Green Golf Partners, which is said to have “a solid portfolio of courses” (18 in all) in Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, and Wisconsin. GGP’s CEO called the partnership “a match made in heaven.”

     Are you wondering how much of a week’s golf news I cover in this blog? The answer, unfortunately, is just a fraction of what passes my way. The golf business, particularly the development side of the golf business, has unquestionably perked up over the past year or two, and there’s no way for me to address all of it. So if your business requires a more comprehensive news digest – a weekly compendium of stories collected from newspapers, magazines, and other sources – contact me via e-mail at golfcoursereport@aol.com. I’ll send you a sample issue of either U.S. or International Construction Clips, depending on your needs.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

The Week That Was, april 28, 2019

     Golf-course designers love awards, but they hate rankings. That being said, don’t look for Jack Nicklaus, Coore & Crenshaw, and Tom Doak to complain about where they fall on an evaluation recently published by a reputable British website: They’re regarded as being among the top five architects of all time.  
     Top 100 Golf Courses, which aims “to connect passionate golfers with the world’s greatest golf clubs,” has done what it calls “the unthinkable”: It’s developed “a scoring system” that it believes can “reasonably” identify the greatest architects in history. Readers who wish to wade through the details of how Top 100 came to its conclusions can do so on their own. Suffice to say that the website’s panelists crunched some numbers and weighed a wealth of opinions and eventually compiled a list of 100 designers who “positively impacted golf course design.”
     Without question, this exercise has been designed to start some discussions and spark some arguments. To give itself a bit of cover, though, Top 100 notes that it “stopped short of actually ranking the architects.” Instead, it says it “loosely sequenced” the architects into 10-member “tiers,” starting with a group led by Harry Colt and Alister MacKenzie and ending with Robbie Robinson, Perry Dye, Charles Redhead, Ron Kirby, and Allan Robertson. The list skews toward famous dead architects, as such lists typically do, by roughly two to one.
     Of the roughly one-third who are alive and generally regarded as U.S. architects, Robert Trent Jones, Jr., Pete Dye, and Tom Fazio are included among the top 10. Greg Norman finds a home among the top 20, while David McLay Kidd, Kyle Phillips, and Gil Hanse are ranked among the top 30. Dig a little deeper and you’ll find Gary Player (whose office is in the United States even if he often isn’t), Tom Weiskopf, Ernie Els (a situation similar to Player’s), Lee Schmidt & Brian Curley, Mike DeVries, Rees Jones, Michael Hurdzan, Dana Fry, P. B. Dye, Arthur Hills, and Brian Silva.
     Though golf architecture is a dynamic profession, Top 100 says it expects its list “to remain relatively static” in the near term. And while designers may object to rankings both in general and in particular, let’s face facts: We rank professional athletes, chefs, movie directors, vacation destinations, and just about every other group of people, places, and things anybody can think of. Course designers may wish for immunity, but it needn’t be granted.

     Scrape away the irrelevant news about improved television ratings for professional events and increases in “off-course participation,” and there are three important takeaways from the National Golf Foundation’s Golf Industry Report for 2019.
     First, U.S. golf participation as we’ve defined it for decades – by the number of people who pay money to play traditional games of golf on actual golf courses – grew only fractionally in 2018, from 23.8 million to 24.2 million. This may be, as the NGF notes, the “first measured increase in 14 years,” but it means that participation remains at the level our industry had prior to the Great Recession.
     Second, the number of rounds played fell to 434 million, a decline of 4.8 percent from 2017. The NGF blames the decrease on “heavier precipitation levels than normal across the country during the busiest months for golf.”
     Third, golf courses continue to go out of business at a precipitous pace. The NGF reports that 198.5 of what it inelegantly calls “18-hole equivalent courses” closed last year, while just 12.5 opened. The number of 18-hole equivalent golf courses in the United States currently stands at 13,777, down from 15,007 in the peak year of 2005. The “correction,” as the NGF has long framed it, that began in 2006 will continue “for another few years.”
     The NGF claims to be “bullish” on golf’s future, but people who are currently involved in U.S. golf operations don’t have much cause for optimism. Progress remains elusive.

     Arcis Golf, the second-largest owner/operator in the U.S. golf industry, has put one of its competitors out of business. For an undisclosed price, Blake Walker’s Dallas, Texas-based firm has acquired the five remaining golf properties, all of them in Texas, owned by Dominion Golf Group. The venues are located in and around Austin (Onion Creek Club, River Place Country Club, and Twin Creeks Country Club) as well as in suburban Dallas (Lantana Golf Club), and in San Antonio (Dominion Country Club). In a press release, Arcis described its latest acquisition as “one of the most attractive asset-quality portfolios in the golf industry” and said the purchase represented “a significant enhancement” to its “carefully curated collection of lifestyle properties.” (For what it’s worth, Golf Digest doesn’t list any of the clubs’ courses on its ranking of the Lone Star State’s top 25.) Arcis, which claims to be “reinventing the modern club experience,” now owns more than five dozen golf courses, 18 of them in Texas. Its press release doesn’t explain why Dominion chose to sell or shed any light on the plans of Steven Held, Dominion’s CEO.

     Surplus Transactions – The family of the late Bill Burnette has accepted $1.975 million for Hyland Golf Club, a venue that’s operated outside Pinehurst, North Carolina since 1965. The new owners of the club aim to transform Hyland’s 18-hole, Tom Jackson-designed track from “a good golf course to a great golf course.” . . . Just months after it was shuttered and described as “no longer a viable business,” an 18-hole, Ron Garl-designed golf course in suburban Fort Wayne, Indiana is expecting a rebirth. The Kosciusko Economic Development Corporation has agreed to buy Stonehenge Golf Club, citing the property’s “importance to what our community offers residents and visitors alike.” A price hasn’t been announced, but in 2017 Stonehenge was put on the market for $2.875 million. . . . Jon Goin, a Memphis-area golf pro, is said to be “finalizing a deal” to acquire Plantation Golf Club, a 30-year-old venue in Olive Branch, Mississippi. Once he takes possession, Goin plans to change the club’s name to Bridges at Plantation.

     In compliance with recently issued European laws regarding data collection, I’ve been asked to provide a statement about my use of the data that’s collected about those of you who read the World Golf Report. So here’s what I have to say on the subject: I don’t collect any data, and I don’t put any cookies into your computer. That being said, here’s some language that Google, the company that maintains this slice of cyberspace, would probably approve of: “We and our partners use cookies on this site to improve our service, perform analytics, personalize advertising, measure advertising performance, and remember website preferences. By using the site, you consent to these cookies.”

Sunday, April 21, 2019

The Week That Was, april 21, 2019

     The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and nowadays the apple of Mike Keiser’s eye is without doubt the design team of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw.
     The world’s premier golf developer has hired the Austin, Texas-based duo to create the fifth course at Bandon Dunes, an expected world-class layout that will take shape on the 150 acres currently occupied by the resort’s free-form, 13-green Sheep Ranch course. The site has been described as “spectacular,” “crazy good,” and “really unbelievable,” and Coore, who’s set foot on most of the planet’s finest linksland, thinks it has “some of the most magnificent natural contours for golf that I have ever seen.” Keiser and Phil Friedmann, the property’s co-owners, expect the 18-hole, 7,100-yard track to debut next year.
     The existing Sheep Ranch course has operated as a poorly kept secret for more than a decade, but it’s been slated for redevelopment since 2016, originally with Gil Hanse as the front-runner for the commission. The stars had apparently aligned, as Keiser had been talking about finding a place for a Hanse-designed course at Bandon Dunes for years, but he changed his mind after he and Friedmann played the Hanse-designed course at the Streamsong resort in Florida. According to Golf Advisor, Keiser and Friedmann concluded that Hanse’s approach to greens design would be too “extreme” for the Sheep Ranch property.
     As a result, Coore and Crenshaw, who’ve already designed two of Bandon Dunes’ 18-hole courses, got a chance to create a routing, and they delivered one that Keiser believes is “truly brilliant.” Their final product is also going to be Keiser’s last bite of the apple at Bandon Dunes, for he told Golf Advisor that the Sheep Ranch track will be the resort’s final regulation-length course.

     An Indian tribe in Wisconsin has acquired Big Fish Golf Course, a Pete Dye-designed venue that claims to offer “a fun, challenging, and memorable golf experience” to players in the extreme northwestern part of the state. Via its governing board, the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians has paid $1.1 million for the 18-hole course, which is located on 173 acres adjacent to its reservation in Hayward. The tribe believes that Big Fish will boost the financial prospects of its Sevenwinds Casino, but it has no illusions about the course’s ability to generate profits. “We are telling tribal members this is not a gold mine,” a tribal official told the Sawyer County Record, “but if we can break even and drive more business to the casino, that will be a win for the tribe.” Big Fish opened in 2004. Dye has designed four other courses in Wisconsin, all of them at the Whistling Straits and Black Wolf Run resorts in Kohler.

     Surplus Transactions – Thanks to an anonymous donation, the Dickinson County Conservation Board has acquired Brooks National Golf Club, a 27-hole facility in Okoboji, Iowa. The 230-acre venue, which will begin operating this season as Brooks Golf, has operated since 1932, and over the years it’s reportedly attracted players such Sam Snead, Walter Hagen, and Babe Didrikson Zaharias. . . . Sometime next month, a club in Shelby, North Carolina that’s said to have “declined in recent years” will change hands. Cleveland Country Club, which has been in business since 1928, will be sold to what’s been described as “a group of current and former members” who hope to “save the club for the next generation.” . . . Ron and Kathy Brown have sold Tall Pines Players Club, a venue in Friendsville, Pennsylvania (it’s outside Binghamton, New York) that’s been in business since 1992. Adam Diaz told a local newspaper that he bought Tall Pines and its 18-hole golf course because “it just fit with something I always wanted to do.”  

     Duly Noted – Greg Norman isn’t the only golf personality who’s hopped on the CBD bandwagon. Scott McCarron, a player on the Champions Tour, has become a spokesperson for a Colorado-based CBD provider (he claims that the substance relieves the “mental stress and anxiety that comes with pro golf”), and Phil “the Gambler” Mickelson was seen taking a shot of what appeared to be CBD oil during one of his rounds at the Masters. In fact, Golf News Net claims that the use of CBD products “has spread throughout the PGA Tour,” and some have speculated that Tiger Woods was chewing CBD-laced gum while he was winning his 15th major championship. Without question, CBD is trending. . . . The Central Coast of Vietnam is about to raise its profile as a golf destination. The marketing group that represents the area’s celebrity-designed golf courses has entered into a partnership with Golfasian, the top tour operator in Southeast Asia, to attract more golf travelers. Golfasian will be offering play at a half-dozen venues, among them tracks designed by Nick Faldo, Robert Trent Jones, Jr., Colin Montgomerie, and Greg Norman. . . . Four years after it acquired Honours Golf, which managed 10 golf properties in the Southeast, Troon has acquired OB Sports Golf Management, which manages more than 70, the vast majority of them west of the Mississippi. As professors in business school always say, buying in one fell swoop sure beats buying one by one.

     In compliance with recently issued European laws regarding data collection, I’ve been asked to provide a statement about my use of the data that’s collected about those of you who read the World Golf Report. So here’s what I have to say on the subject: I don’t collect any data, and I don’t put any cookies into your computer. That being said, here’s some language that Google, the company that maintains this slice of cyberspace, would probably approve of: “We and our partners use cookies on this site to improve our service, perform analytics, personalize advertising, measure advertising performance, and remember website preferences. By using the site, you consent to these cookies.”