Sunday, November 1, 2015

The Week That Was, november 1, 2015

     With Bandon Muni firmly in his rear-view mirror, Mike Keiser has officially put the pedal to the metal on his long-rumored golf venture in the Scottish Highlands. The course, to be called Coul Links (or Coul Links Beach), will be Keiser’s first in Scotland, and it’ll take shape on 350 acres just two miles north of Royal Dornoch Golf Club, the venue that inspired Keiser to create Bandon Dunes. Scottish Golf Travel reports that the Chicago, Illinois-based neo-classicist has hired Coore & Crenshaw to design the property’s stand-alone 18-hole track, a true links that will operate without any ancillary development -- no houses, no hotel, not even a clubhouse. Golfers will check in at Royal Dornoch and be shuttled to Coul Links. Bill Coore has reportedly visited the site twice, and Golf Advisor says that he believes it “might be the best ever.” Keiser recently told me that Coore and Ben Crenshaw are “dying” to get started, but they may have to wait a while, because Keiser and his partner, Todd Warnock -- the owner of a boutique hotel in Dornoch -- haven’t yet secured approvals and permits.

     The investors who are about to open Tiger Woods’ first U.S. golf course are negotiating to build Woods’ second, in metropolitan Nashville, Tennessee. Dallas, Texas-based Beacon Land Development hopes to make a Woods-designed layout the centerpiece of Farms at Thompson’s Station, a 1,229-acre spread in Williamson County that will include 800 single-family houses, a music venue, a wellness center, a “town square” with retail and commercial space, and other attractions. Woods’ 27-hole complex at Beacon Land’s Bluejack National, a community outside Houston, Texas, is scheduled to open before the end of the year, and the parties are believed to be close to finalizing a contract for the golf course in Tennessee. “It would be great to have him to do this project,” a Beacon Land principal told the Tennessean. “We have a very good relationship with him.” Assuming all goes as planned, Beacon Land aims to break ground on Farms at Thompson’s Station in the spring of 2016.

     One of Jack Nicklaus’ closest confidants has caught a glimpse of golf’s future, and it doesn’t include traditional golf courses. Howard Milstein, a co-chairman and minority owner of Nicklaus Companies, has acquired a piece of FlyingTee, a start-up company that aims to build a chain of interactive, golf-themed entertainment facilities across the planet. “They have both an operating concept and technology that we believe is the best in its space,” Milstein told Tulsa World. The company’s first complex, in suburban Tulsa, Oklahoma, is scheduled to open early next year, and yes, it resembles a Topgolf facility, in that it combines high-tech golf with eating and drinking. Milstein, one of America’s richest people (Forbes believes his family is worth $3.1 billion), has acquired the exclusive right to build and operate FlyingTee facilities in Asia, and it appears that South Korea, Japan, and China are his main targets. “They have very limited land for golf,” he said. “This could be a great solution for countries like that.” Bob Tway, Gil Morgan, and Scott Verplank have also invested in FlyingTee.

     The world’s first Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course, Glen Abbey Golf Club in suburban Toronto, Canada, has been put on the endangered list. The club has hosted 27 Canadian Open championships since it opened in 1976, and it serves as the home of both the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame & Museum and Golf Canada, the governing body of golf in the nation. All that aside, the club’s owner, ClubLink Corporation, has asked local officials to approve a plan that would turn the 230-acre property into a community of 3,000 houses flanked by office and retail space. ClubLink’s CEO, Rai Sahi, told the Globe & Mail that the filing is “a very preliminary thing” and guesstimated that Glen Abbey could continue to operate for five or 10 more years. The newspaper says that ClubLink paid $40 million for Glen Abbey in 1998, “a small fraction of its potential worth in the current real estate market.” Though many people are publicly moaning about ClubLink’s decision, it’s hard to gauge exactly how much Canada’s golf business will lose when Glen Abbey closes. While the club clearly has historical significance, Golf Digest doesn’t rank its course among Canada’s top 30.

     Last year, Donald Trump said that the price he paid for the Lodge at Doonbeg “wouldn’t get you an apartment” at some of his residential properties in Manhattan. Well, today we know exactly how much he paid for the Irish property that now operates as Trump International Golf Links Doonbeg: €14.4 million, which currently translates to roughly $15.8 million. According to the Irish Independent, the property’s Greg Norman-designed golf course was valued at €2.6 million, or just over $2.86 million.

     By now you’ve no doubt heard that China’s Communist Party, in an attempt to root out corruption, has officially put golf on its Shit List, along with “keeping paramours and conducting adultery” and engaging in “extravagant eating and drinking.” Will the last architect in the Shanghai airport please turn out the lights?

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