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Sunday, November 11, 2018

The Week That Was, november 11, 2018

     Fallout from the murder of Jamal Khashoggi is rippling through the golf industry, as the European Tour is having second thoughts about holding one of its events in Saudi Arabia.
     The tour isn’t saying so out loud, of course, because if it complained in public about a journalist’s slaying or a tragic war in Yemen, it would be pressured to withdraw. So instead, the tour is simply trying to avoid talking about where it’ll be in late January and early February.
     The Irish Times reports that the tour’s press release announcing its 2019 schedule didn’t mention the Saudi International, an event that was much ballyhooed several months ago, when the contract for it was signed. What’s more, Keith Pelley, the tour’s CEO, only reluctantly answered questions about the event. In a gaggle with reporters earlier this month, he acknowledged that he’s “heard some of the criticism of the region” – who hasn’t? – and promised “to monitor the situation,” which translates as, “No, we aren’t going to change our schedule.” It’s a message that Saudi Arabia is thrilled to hear, because the cache of a big-time professional golf tournament is worth its weight in gold to a nation that desperately needs to diversify its economy.
     More troubling to me, however, was something else Pelley said. He claimed that he’s had “no dialogue” with the tour’s “partners, with our own [British] government, with the Saudi Arabian Golf Federation, or anybody from Saudi Arabia.” This is shocking. When it comes to negotiating sensitive situations where both reputations and millions of dollars are on the table, one of a CEO’s primary responsibilities is to consult with each and every one of the stakeholders who might be affected. If Pelley was telling the truth – if he really isn’t taking and considering advice from everybody the tour does business with – then he’s doing a disservice to his constituency.
     Right about now, it’s legitimate to wonder if Pelley regrets calling Saudi Arabia, a nation with hardly any golf courses and no history with the sport, “a perfect fit for the European Tour.”

     While we’re on the subject, Tiger Woods has turned down a guaranteed £2.5 million – nearly $3.25 million – to play in the Saudi International. Woods hasn’t explained why he declined the offer, but the optimist in me wants to believe that he’s making a statement how a homicidal regime in Saudi Arabia should be treated. If that’s the case, good for him.

     South Caicos, described by CNN as “a delightfully sleepy Caribbean retreat” and a “pristine paradise,” may soon get its first golf course. The course will serve as an attraction for the nearly two-year-old Sailrock Resort, which is envisioned to emerge as the centerpiece of a resort community that will feature, among other things, “a collection of residential neighborhoods,” “overwater bungalows,” and more hotels. The community will be created by Sailrock Development, Ltd., which is said to own 2,400 acres – nearly half of the island. To put the developers’ plans into perspective, CNN helpfully notes that South Caicos, part of the Turks & Caicos Islands, is home to “about a thousand locals” and has so far this year attracted “only about 7,500 overnight visitors.”

     Pipeline Overflow – Chris Wilczynski, a protégé of Arthur Hills, has been hired to design his second course at Lakewood Ranch, a huge master-planned community outside Sarasota, Florida. In a press release, the Ann Arbor, Michigan-based architect said the track would take shape on “a relatively flat piece of land” (hey, it’s Florida) with “a nice pastoral aesthetic” and promised that the final product “will not feel like a typical residential golf course.” . . . The new leadership at Wynn Resorts, Ltd. has set out to re-open Wynn Golf Club, the venue on the Las Vegas Strip that it closed late last year. Tom Fazio has been directed to create two new holes for the 18-hole track he designed in 2005 and to spiff up the others. Wynn hopes to debut the new course next fall. . . . Phil Ryan, an Australian course designer, has been commissioned to produce an 18-hole track for a proposed “retirement lifestyle” community in metropolitan Hyderabad. India is familiar territory to Ryan, who’s designed a handful of courses in the nation (among them Oxford Golf & Country Club in Pune and Clover Greens in Bangalore) and redesigned probably a half-dozen others.

     ClubCorp has created a free-standing management division that aims to take over operations at private clubs, resorts, and daily-fee golf courses. On its website, ClubLife Management claims to have a dozen properties in its portfolio, among them Mossy Oak Golf Club in West Point, Mississippi and Engineers Country Club on New York’s Long Island. It’s worth noting, however, that at least three of the listed properties – River Run Country Club in Davidson, North Carolina; Canebrake Country Club in Hattiesburg, Mississippi; and Fort Collins Country Club in Fort Collins, Colorado – were formerly operated by another ClubCorp affiliate, Sequoia Golf Management, while others had also previously been part of the ClubCorp family. ClubLife is being led by Seth Churi, who once worked for Sequoia, and Doug Hellman, who comes over from KemperSports.

     The rate of U.S. golf-course closings continues to far outpace openings, and keeping up with all of them is difficult. Here’s a capsule accounting of some that have recently departed:
     – Cahoon Plantation Golf Club, a Wallace Cahoon-owned venue in Chesapeake, Virginia. According to the Virginian-Pilot, the club’s management posted a sign at the 18-hole, Ault-Clark design saying that its demise was “due to uncontrolable [sic] circumstances.”
     – Hombre Golf Club, a 27-hole complex in Panama City Beach, Florida. The club’s owner, George Roberts, reportedly closed nine holes earlier this year, and he shut down the remaining 18 after they were damaged by Hurricane Michael.
     – Masonboro Golf Club, an 18-hole, Gene Hamm-designed course in Wilmington, North Carolina. Originally opened in 1984 as Cape Golf & Racquet Club, the last straw for Masonboro was reportedly “damage from Hurricane Florence.”
     – Rutherfordton Golf Course, a nine-hole, municipally owned but privately operated layout in Rutherfordton, North Carolina. The course, which opened in 1929, closed due to what’s been called “a decrease in play.”
     – Lupton City Golf Club, which is said to be the last remaining nine-hole track in Chattanooga, Tennessee. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee has sold the club, which has operated since 1939, to a residential developer.
     – Overton Community Golf Course, a nine-hole, 60-year-old, municipally owned track outside Tyler, Texas. The Kilgore News Herald cited “several years of slow business, an aging group of regular players, and low fees” as reasons for its passing.
     – Evergreen Golf Course, an 18-hole venue in Grand Haven, Michigan. Brent Fredericks, who built the course in 2000, has sold it, and the new owners apparently have other plans for the 74-acre property.
     – Fig Garden Golf Course, an 18-hole layout in Fresno, California. The 60-year-old, Nick Lombardo-designed course will go dark before year’s end.
     – Fort Steilacoom Golf Course, a 57-year-old municipal layout in the southern suburbs of Tacoma, Washington. The nine-hole, Forest Richardson-designed course was said to be “the perfect golf course for golfers of every skill level,” but a local newspaper said that it was “grossly underused.”

     Duly Noted – Greg “the Living Brand” Norman, who’s designed three golf courses in Vietnam, is about to become the socialist republic’s tourism ambassador. During his three-year (2019-21) appointment, according to a press release, the LB will promote golf tourism by “organizing international competitions” “and building new, high-class golf courses in unique locations.” . . . For the second consecutive year, the World Golf Awards have named the Luke Donald “signature’ layout at Bà Nà Hills Golf Club as Vietnam’s Best Golf Course. (Last year the track, created in collaboration with Brit Stenson of IMG Golf, was also named as the Best Golf Course in Asia.) Nobody takes this award very seriously, but clearly, Bà Nà Hills is providing an experience that resonates with some golfers. . . . Though he’s been deceased for more than two years, Arnold Palmer still earned $35 million over the past year, according to Forbes’ ranking of the highest-paid dead celebrities. The King ranked third on the magazine’s list, after Michael Jackson ($400 million) and Elvis Presley ($40 million).

     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, 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, October 28, 2018

The Week That Was, october 28, 2018

     If you abhor change, you’ll love the latest “country snapshot” published by KPMG’s Golf Advisory Practice.
     KPMG’s “Golf Participation Report for Europe 2018” concludes that trends established in recent years continue to linger, as there have been “no significant changes in the overall supply and demand figures” since the last time KPMG took an in-depth look at the golf business in the Old Country. In other words, the business remains “stable,” to use KPMG’s word, which is, unfortunately, another way of saying “still no growth.”
     Let’s start with the big picture: In 2017, according to KPMG’s new report, Europe had a total of 4.15 million golfers and 6,861 courses.
     Now, let’s dig a little deeper. In 2017, KPMG says, the number of “registered” golfers (that is, golfers who are members of clubs or associations) fell by 0.8 percent from the number posted in 2016 (a loss of 34,925 actual golfers), while the number of “affiliated” golf courses (courses that are members of their golf associations) fell by 1 percent (a loss of 71 courses). The largest losses were found in two of Europe’s biggest, most-important markets, England (35) and Scotland (18).
     The largest decreases in players were registered in England (-38,784), the Netherlands (-12,913), Ireland (7,422), and Scotland (4,731), while the largest increases were registered in Italy (+8,478), the Czech Republic (+5,983), and Sweden (+4,618). When you add, subtract, multiply, and divide all the numbers across the Continent, you get an overall participation rate of 0.86 percent, which is worse than the 0.92 percent that was reported for 2016 but close enough for KPMG to characterize it as “stable.”
     KPMG views the losses it’s recorded as statistically insignificant, but they are declines nonetheless. Year by year, a small erosion here and a small erosion there may not amount to much, but they eventually create a canyon.

     Star Resort Group, a firm based in Bozeman, Montana, will oversee the development of a community that it describes in a press release as “the Bahamas’ first eco-engineered luxury waterfront destination.” Port St. George will occupy 882 acres on Long Island, and it’ll feature 15 vacation villas, 500 condominiums and townhouses, a village center with retail and commercial space, a hotel, a spa, a 640-berth marina (the largest in the Bahamas), yacht and beach clubs, “an abundance of dining options” (including a lighthouse with a bar and a café), a culinary school, sports facilities, and an 18-hole golf course. SRG believes that the community will attract people who seek “an experience characterized by an authentic Bahamian environment, luxurious, modern amenities, and an eco-friendly lifestyle.”

     Pipeline Overflow – A golf insider in Lake County, California reports that the throwback Brambles golf venture, originally announced in 2014, appears to be “getting closer to fruition.” Coore & Crenshaw, who’ve been hired to create a course in the tradition of North Berwick, Prestwick, and the Old Course at St. Andrews, are said to have made a site visit last week. . . . Lebanon, which the Economist contends is “plagued by sectarian divides,” facing a possible “banking crisis,” and “tipping into a property slump,” may nonetheless add to its meager golf portfolio. Intra Investment, a company owned primarily by the nation’s Central Bank, hopes to build a hotel, some houses, and an 18-hole golf course on 148 acres in suburban Beirut. . . . In collaboration with a local developer, Wanderers Golf Club has set out to add high-end housing, office space, retail space, and other attractions to its property in suburban Johannesburg, South Africa. According to the Business Report, the venture will require the club’s 18-hole golf course to be “partially redesigned and substantially upgraded.”

     One of the few U.S. golf venues with its own air strip has changed hands. The member/owners of Pauma Valley Golf Club, in suburban San Diego, have sold their property to Sis Rainbow, a closely held entity that now owns at least four clubs in Southern California. A sales price hasn’t yet been disclosed, but Sis Rainbow apparently agreed to pay off Pauma Valley’s debt, allocate money for capital improvements, and promise to preserve the club’s private “heritage.” Pauma Valley, which has been in business since 1960, features an 18-hole, Robert Trent Jones-designed golf course. It’ll complement Sis Rainbow’s other properties, namely Steele Canyon Golf Club in Jamul, Dove Canyon Golf Club outside Irvine, and Bear Creek in Temecula.

     Surplus Transactions – The group that operates the Semiahmoo Resort in Blaine, Washington has accepted $3.75 million for Loomis Trail Golf Course, a nearby 18-hole, Graham Cooke-designed track. Along with the golf course, the business arm of the Lummi Indian tribe, already the owner of a casino just down the road, acquired a small hotel, meeting space, and 180 acres of presumably undeveloped land. . . . To preserve open space, the members of the Sea Palms West homeowners’ association have agreed to buy their community’s West course, a nine-hole, Tom Jackson-designed layout that opened in 1969. The association, on Saint Simons Island, Georgia, hopes to complete the $2 million purchase next month, according to the Brunswick News, and will eventually pull the plug on the golf course. . . . Dennis Napier has sold Ranch Club Golf Course, a nine-hole layout that’s operated in Priest River, Idaho since the early 1950s. The Bonner County Daily Bee reports that new owners are John Vickers and his wife, Debbie Soderblom, who’ve hired Napier to help run the place.

     Duly Noted – John Malone, a Colorado-based billionaire (Forbes estimates that he’s worth $7.2 billion), is among the bidders for K Club, the luxurious golf resort (and former Ryder Cup venue) in County Kildare, Ireland. Malone already owns a castle and a historic estate in Ireland, and his other holdings include investments in the Atlanta Braves, Formula One, Discovery Communications, and Sirius XM. . . . The air quality in many Chinese cities often requires people to wear respirators, but Bloomberg says that the world’s 10 most polluted cities are in India. Enjoy your rounds, golf travelers! . . . The Independent reports that in 2004 Donald Trump offered to buy a picturesque Irish golf property, sight unseen. The owners of Old Head Links, currently #83 on Golf Digest’s list of the World’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses, told him it wasn’t for sale.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

The Week That Was, october 21, 2018

     In what’s been characterized as “a milestone moment,” a seaside golf destination in Messinia, Greece has commissioned José María Olazábal to design its third and fourth golf courses. The 18-hole tracks will be among the featured attractions at Costa Navarino, a well-financed, 2,500-acre spread that already boasts signature layouts by Bernhard Langer and Robert Trent Jones, Jr. In a press release, Olazábal describes the site he’s been given as “spectacular,” with views that “are simply breathtaking,” and he’s promised to deliver “a golfing experience you will want to return to over and over.” The San Sebastián, Spain-based architect’s courses are under construction, and they’re expected to open in 2021. They’re being built to what a press release calls “the highest international standards,” but Darius Oliver of Planet Golf believes that there’s “a long way to go before [Olazábal} can be considered a genuine architect of ability.”  

     Pipeline Overflow – Lennar Corporation will build the first of two or three golf courses that will eventually emerge at Babcock Ranch, Kitson & Partners’ slowly emerging mini-city in Charlotte and Lee counties in Florida. The course, part of a community called Babcock National, will be “similar to many of the country clubs Lennar has done in Southwest Florida,” which means that it’ll feature roughly 1,000 houses and an 18-hole, Gordy Lewis-designed golf course. . . . The billionaire who serves as the deputy prime minister of Kosovo hopes to build a resort community that Sputnik News calls “Albania’s first entry into the high-end tourism market.” Behgjet Pacolli has set out to build the to-be-named community outside Tirana, the nation’s capital city, and he’s master-planned it to include houses, a hotel, a shopping mall, a water park, and an 18-hole golf course. . . . David Shipley and some golf-minded associates in Salt Lake City, Utah are looking to resurrect the defunct Wingpointe Golf Course. Shipley told the Salt Lake Tribune that Wingpointe’s 18-hole, Arthur Hills-designed layout, lifeless since 2005, “had a reputation of being one of the great courses in the country” and could, if redesigned and revialized, become “one more reason for people to visit Salt Lake City.”

     Sunrise Company, one of the best-known development crews in California’s Coachella Valley, has acquired Andalusia Country Club, a faux-Spanish golf community in La Quinta. The seller was an affiliate of Drummond Company, a coal-mining concern that developed the nearby Rancho La Quinta Country Club and similar golf communities in Alabama (Liberty Park in suburban Birmingham) and Florida (Grasslands Golf & Country Club in Lakeland). Andalusia, which opened in 2005, features an 18-hole, Rees Jones-designed golf course, and Sunrise’s CEO, Randall Bone, believes it’s “one of the finest country club communities in the desert.” It’ll complement Sunrise’s other golf properties, a group that includes two in Rancho Mirage (Sunrise Country Club and Rancho Las Palmas Country Club), four in Palm Desert (among them Indian Ridge Country Club and Palm Valley Country Club), and Toscana Country Club in Indian Wells.

     Surplus Transactions – Richard Childress, a famous former NASCAR racer, has accepted $1.2 million for his struggling Sapona Ridge Country Club, a 50-year-old venue in Lexington, North Carolina. The club’s new owner is Mark Moore, who works for Uber. . . . Joseph Lewis, a real-estate broker and a “self-described optimist,” has paid an undisclosed amount for Turquoise Valley Golf Course, an 18-hole track that’s operated since 1908 in remote Naco, Arizona. The Herald/Review reports that Lewis and his partners are Turquoise Valley’s fourth owners “in the past few years.” . . . Regarding American Golf Corporation’s expected sale of Plantation Country Club, in Boise, Idaho: The prospective new owner is Will Gustafson, a California-based developer who’s said to be assessing “the viability of the 18-hole golf course” and “its future potential.” American Golf told KTVB-TV that it’ll continue to manage the club, but it didn’t say for how long.

     Duly Noted – It’s smart business when golf courses become more welcoming to women, and the Herald Tribune has provided a fresh reason for owners and operators in Florida to do so: The number of retirement-age women moving into the state these days far exceeds the number of retirement-age men. It’s a demographic shift that has important implications for the future of golf in the Sunshine State. . . . The International Association of Golf Tour Operators has announced its five regional destinations of the year, and they are Scottsdale, Arizona; the Dominican Republic; Spain’s Costa del Sol; Mauritius; and Hua Hin, Thailand. As always, the IAGTO also announced an Undiscovered Golf Destination of the Year: Logroño, a city in the Rioja wine region in in northern Spain. . . . The number-one golf course in China, according to the South China Morning Post, is an 18-hole, Nelson & Haworth-designed track at Sheshan International Golf Club in Shanghai. Coore & Crenshaw’s layout at CITIC Shanqin Bay Golf Club, the top-rated venue on Golf Digest’s China rankings, checks in at number three, behind the crazy salad of 27 holes designed by 27 architects at the 27 Club in Tianjin.

     I’ve asked this question before, and I’ll ask it again: Are you wondering how much of a week’s golf news I cover in this blog? The answer is this: Only a fraction of what passes my way. The golf business, particularly the development side of the golf business, has unquestionably perked up in recent years, and there’s no way for me to address all of it. So if your business requires a more comprehensive news digest, 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, October 14, 2018

The Week That Was, october 14, 2018

     Gil Hanse will design the second 18-hole course at Les Bordes International Golf Club, a task that was originally to have been done by the late Robert von Hagge. The course will be Hanse’s first in Continental Europe, and he expects to break ground on it in early 2019.
     Les Bordes, a 32-year-old venue outside Orleans, in the Loire Valley of central France, was established by Baron Marcel Bich, the founder of the company that makes Bic pens, in the hope of creating “the Augusta National of Europe.” Bich hired von Hagge to design the club’s first course, a layout that’s widely viewed as von Hagge’s “piece de resistance” and that Darius Oliver of Planet Golf ranks as the third-best in the nation. Oliver, a tough critic, notes that the track has a “punishing penal design” and questions some of von Hagge’s design decisions, but he nonetheless concludes that the final product is “attractive, well-constructed, and very enjoyable to play.”
     Von Hagge produced a design for Les Bordes’ second course as well, a layout that was envisioned to be more forgiving than the first, with wider fairways and less treacherous bunkers. But Bich died in 1994 and von Hagge died in 2010, the Great Recession paralyzed the world, and the venture lost momentum. Although the club’s current owners laid plans to begin construction in 2011 (Rick Baril, one of the partners in Von Hagge’s Texas-based firm, was to oversee the construction), they didn’t follow through.
     Hanse is expected to deliver a “classic heathland course,” and he told Golf Course Architecture that he’s “excited that the standard of quality is already so high at Les Bordes, so it gives us something to aspire to.” His clients are no doubt excited to use his growing international reputation in their marketing, as they intend to build houses (starting price: $810,000) and a “five-star branded hotel” with “a multitude of amenities for the whole family.”
     If all goes as planned, and if the weather cooperates, Hanse’s course might open in early 2020.

     Pipeline Overflow – Tower Holdings’ dream of financing its long-overdue golf resort in Australia with cryptocurrency has gone nowhere, so it’s agreed to sell the lease on its property on Great Keppel Island to a Singapore-based investment group, Wei Chao Pty. Ltd. The prospective owners are said to “share the passion for the project” and, more importantly, they have “the financial means and desire to take the project to the next level.” . . . Government officials in Madhya Pradesh, India aim to build a “world-class” golf course on part of a cattle ranch outside Bhopal. For those who are too young to remember, in 1984 a pesticide factory in Bhopal was the site of what’s generally acknowledged to be “the world’s worst industrial disaster.” Several thousand people died, and something like 500,000 were injured. . . . Plans to create a nine-hole, child-friendly track on the site of the former Shallow Creek Golf Course, outside Putnam Valley, New York, appear to have been revived. Rocco Cambareri had hoped to build the course and had secured a $250,000 grant from the Wadsworth Golf Charities Foundation to help do it, but he died last year. According to the News Journal, Larry Nussbaum is stepping up to finish the job his former partner started.

     The members of Wimbledon Park Golf Club appear set to sell the lease on their property to their next-door neighbor, the All England Club, the group that hosts the annual Wimbledon professional tennis tournament in London. The All England Club owns the lease on Wimbledon Park’s 73 acres and will assume control of the site in 2041, but it wants to build new facilities sooner rather than later and is willing to pay dearly – £63.75 million (more than $83.8 million) – for the privilege. Assuming the sale is completed (a vote is expected before the end of the year), and assuming my math is accurate, each of Wimbledon Park’s 750 members will pocket almost $112,000 as a result of the sale. The downside is that they’ll lose their Willie Park, Jr.-designed golf course, an 18-hole track that’s been around since 1898. The upside, however, should be obvious.

     Surplus Transactions – Club at Fairvue Plantation, a 1,000-acre spread on Old Hickory Lake in Gallatin, Tennessee, has acquired Foxland Harbor Golf & Country Club, and the freshly created 36-hole facility now calls itself Tennessee Grasslands Golf & Country Club. Both golf courses were designed by Bill Bergin, one in 2004 and the other in 2007. . . . Club at Runaway Bay, struggling, a half-century-old facility located roughly 60 miles northwest of Fort Worth, Texas, has been acquired by a family-based group without any golf experience. “We’re just feeling our way along, but it’s not rocket science,” one of the new owners told the Wise County Messenger. The club, which features an 18-hole, Leon Howard-designed golf course, now operates as RB Golf Club & Resort. . . . Andrew Sigler has sold Montcalm Golf Club, a financially challenged, 15-year-old venue in Enfield, New Hampshire, to a pair of club members. Art and Suzanne Langlais paid an undisclosed price for Montcalm, which features an 18-hole course that was co-designed by Phil Wogan and George Sargent.

     Duly Noted – In what amounts to a significant vote of confidence, Hyatt Hotels Corporation has announced plans to open nine new hotels in Africa in 2019 and 2020. To explain its decision, the big Chicago-based hotelier cited the continent’s “increasingly favorable business climate,” “heightened tourism spend,” and “growing middle class” – all factors that also lay a strong foundation for golf development. . . . China, which is quickly amassing economic and political influence all over the world, has found a new target: The golf business in Ghana. The Chinese ambassador to the West African nation, attending a tournament that he described as “another demonstration of the China-Ghana friendship,” promised to “support the development of the game to an international standard” and “do its best to support professional golfers and to get the youth interested and involved in the game.” . . . More than 50,000 objections have been submitted in protest of expansion plans, including a second golf course, by Trump Aberdeen Scotland. A local elected official called the resort’s recently filed development proposal “the most unpopular set of planning applications ever lodged.”

     In compliance with new 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 it is: I don’t collect any data. All I do is write what’s on my mind and then post what I write. I don’t know your names or addresses or ages or income levels, and I have no interest in any of that information. That being said, the World Golf Report occupies a slice of cyberspace owned by Google, one of the world’s foremost data collectors, and I’d bet dollars to donuts that Google collects information about you. For what it’s worth, I’ve downloaded an official-looking statement that’s supposed to appear at the bottom of the blog, but I can’t figure out how to load it. If any of you can tell me how, please do.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

The Week That Was, october 7, 2018

     Vietnam welcomed 13 million international visitor arrivals last year, a record number, and it’s set out to attract 20 million by 2020. Such traffic has made the nation a hot spot not just for golf construction but also for hotel construction, both of which can be viewed as barometers for the economy in general. In a collection of opinions and predictions packaged by a Vietnamese news service, real-estate professionals generally agree that the nation is “one of the hottest markets for hotel investment in the Asia Pacific” and still has “huge untapped potential.” They warn of hurdles that must be overcome, however, among them “poor tourism infrastructure” (in particular, substandard transportation and unreliable electricity and high-speed internet), a lack of government-sponsored marketing and promotion, and tourism policies that “are not conducive to growth.” All that being said, Jones Lang LaSalle predicts that 118 new hotels will debut in the socialist republic by 2022, a 15 percent increase over the 748 currently in operation.

     It took nearly two decades, but Crossroads Ventures has fended off a parade of environmentalists and other opponents and won permission to build Belleayre Resort at Catskill Park, a four-season community northwest of Kingston, New York. Belleayre, which will corporate both new and existing features, will include ski areas, houses, time-share condos, places to eat and drink, and what Crossroads once promised would be an organic golf course. Years ago, the commission for the course went to Davis Love III, and there’s no reason to suggest that the developers’ plans have changed. Some of Crossroads’ principals are now beyond retirement age, but they still believe that their proposed resort will be “a major catalyst for not just the stabilization but for the revitalization of the area.”

     Pipeline Overflow – Toll Brothers has secured a preliminary approval for a subdivision it wants to build at the long-overdue Prasada (a.k.a. Prasada Lake Village) community in suburban Phoenix, Arizona. The big homebuilder’s plans call for a nine-hole, executive-length golf course that will eventually be stretched to 18 holes, all of them to be created by Nicklaus Design. . . . A Pakistani news service says that a group of Japanese investors has “deep interest” in developing a golf course and related tourist-related attractions in Karachi and Gwadar. Can’t say for sure if their interest will lead to actual construction, but it’s further evidence of the heat that’s being turned up on golf construction in a nation not usually associated with the sport. . . . Details are scanty, but a nine-hole golf course may soon emerge in Meru, the sixth-largest city in Kenya. The Kenya Golf Union expects the track to attract 1,500 members and host one of the nation’s long-running tournaments.

     Pipeline Overflow Overflow – Greg “the Living Brand” Norman’s third golf venue in Vietnam is scheduled to open later this month. The 27-hole complex, KN Golf Links Cam Ranh, will be the centerpiece of KN Paradise, a 2,000-acre resort community outside Cam Ranh, an area along the nation’s southern coast that Norman’s clients claim is “on the cusp of becoming the next great hot spot in Southeast Asia.” The facility’s 18-hole track will reportedly play “hard and fast,” while the nine-hole layout will give the impression of “a tropical Augusta.” . . . Three is also the charm for the Nicklaus empire, which has opened its third course in Russia, all of which are located in Moscow and its suburbs. In a comment published by Golf Course Architecture, Jack Nicklaus said that the 18-hole, Nicklaus Design track at Raevo Golf & Country Club took shape on “a uniquely special piece of property” and will be “natural, playable and memorable.” . . . European Golf Design reports that it’s wrapped up construction on Dubai Hills Golf Club, an 18-hole track that will anchor a “serene, lush lifestyle destination” outside arid Dubai. The community’s developers say that the course, designed by Gary Johnston, will be “one of the key golfing destinations in the Middle East region.”

     Duly Noted – Another year in business, another year of losses for Trump Turnberry: The tony resort in Scotland finished $4.5 million in the red last year, and the Washington Post says its owner, the U.S. president, has so far lost “at least $212 million” on his most prestigious golf venue – $144 million on renovations and operating costs on top of a $67 million purchase price. As in previous years, however, the Trump Organization insists that profits are right around the corner. . . . In its proposal to host this year’s Ryder Cup competition, France promised to grow the game by opening 100 new golf facilities for beginners and time-pressed experienced golfers. Today, the promise is all but realized, as the Independent reports that 93 of the facilities are already in operation. . . . It’s virtually certain that Cuba will fall short of the 5 million international visitors that it hoped to attract this year, but it’s going to come close. Tourism ministers in island nation expect to count 4.8 million foreign visitors, a record number.