Friday, November 30, 2012

Transactions, november 30, 2012

A major golf destination is emerging on the northern coast of Ireland, in County Donegal. It’s being created by Frank Casey, the owner of Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort, who this week purchased his defunct next-door neighbor, St. Patrick’s Golf Links. The acquisition adds 36 holes to Casey’s 45-hole complex at Rosapenna and creates what’s said to be “the largest links golf destination in Europe after St. Andrews.” For now, at least, Casey’s primary attractions are the ancient and modern layouts at Rosapenna -- the former designed by Old Tom Morris, the latter by Pat Ruddy -- but the courses at St. Patrick’s are believed to have great potential as well. (Some years ago, an official with Nicklaus Design described the St. Patrick’s property as “what Ireland golf is supposed to be” and “an incredible site.”) The courses at St. Patrick’s have been closed for years, but Casey plans to reopen them -- or at least one of them -- next year.

A Canadian group has acquired a troubled golf property in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. Halifax, Nova Scotia-based Geosam Capital, Ltd. reportedly paid $5.5 million for Venetian Bay Golf Club, which features a four-year-old, Lloyd Clifton-designed golf course, plus some developable residential and commercial sites. Geosam says that Venetian Bay is “not a profitable golf club at this time,” but it’s hoping that Kitson & Partners, the club’s new manager, can turn it into one.

Deacon’s Lodge Golf Course in Pequot Lakes, Minnesota is about to get new owners. Sienna Corporation has agreed to sell the 13-year-old, Arnold Palmer-designed layout to Whitebirch, Inc., the owner of the nearby Breezy Point Resort. Whitebirch owns and operates a pair of 18-hole layouts at Breezy Point, and it has another 18-hole course at Forest Hills Golf & RV Resort in Detroit Lakes.

Calderwood Valley Golf Course in New South Wales, Australia has new owners whose identities haven't been revealed. The 18-hole course, in metropolitan Sydney, was built by the late Noel Smithers in 1995 and “has always been a profitable business,” according to Smithers’ widow, Alison. The new owners are said to be a group of Australian and Chinese investors who don’t plan to make fundamental changes to the Ken Mackay-designed course. “The whole goal,” the broker who facilitated the sale explained, is “to keep running it as it is, because they feel it’s a successful model.”

The owners of the Seagate Hotel & Spa in Delray Beach, Florida have purchased Hamlet Country Club and given it a new name: Seagate Country Club. The club features a Joe Lee-designed golf course -- a press release calls it “one of the best championship golf courses in Palm Beach County” -- and once upon a time its members rubbed shoulders with Jack Nicklaus, Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford, and Beth Daniels. That was long ago, of course. Today the club’s mission is to provide “the ultimate vacation experience that our guests are looking for,” an ambition that leaves me longing for the good old days.

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