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Sunday, July 3, 2016

The Week That Was, july 3, 2016

     In golf’s battle of the sexes, another domino has fallen: The members of Royal Troon, a historic enclave in South Ayrshire, Scotland, have voted -- voted “overwhelmingly,” it’s been said, though no actual count was taken -- to allow women into their 138-year-old men’s club. Royal Troon’s decision comes after two other clubs in the rotation for the Open Championship -- the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews in 2014 and Royal St. George’s Golf Club last year -- similarly chose to end their discriminatory membership policies. “I think this means that Royal Troon Golf Club is reflecting the society in which we exist in the 21st century,” the club’s captain told the New York Times. More importantly, the vote means that Royal Troon won’t suffer the fate of Muirfield, which was stripped of its spot in the rotation several weeks ago, when it decided to remain gender specific. Royal Troon’s captain reflected the greater truth when he said, “The importance of being in the international world of golf was recognized by the members.” Royal Troon has hosted the Open Championship eight times, and by happy coincidence it’ll do so again later his month.

     The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, the group that owns and operates Muirfield, has come to regret the decision it made regarding its woman problem. Just weeks after the fateful vote that maintained Muirfield as a men-only club -- a vote that cost the 272-year-old venue in East Lothian, Scotland its cherished spot in the rotation for the Open Championship -- the Edinburgh Golfers have come to realize the error of their ways. They’re hoping to take a second vote on a proposal to admit women, hopefully before the end of the year. “A substantial majority of our members voted for change, and many have voiced their disappointment with the ballot result and with subsequent events,” the club’s captain told the Scotsman. “The club committee believes that a clear and decisive vote in favor of admitting women as members is required to enable us to begin the task of restoring the reputation of the club that has been damaged by the earlier ballot outcome.” The R&A, which decides which properties are fit to host the Open, has encouraged Muirfield to join the 21st century.

     Lawmakers in Pennsylvania have proposed legislation that would enable private-sector groups to build and operate golf courses in state parks. Details are sketchy and opposition is mounting, but three elected officials are hoping to win support for bills that would allow for the construction of “a variety of modern and improved lodging and recreational opportunities” -- hotels, inns, meeting space, amusement parks, water parks, golf courses, and similar attractions -- in some of the state’s 121 parks. It appears that the bills have been proposed to fend off competitive threats from Ohio and West Virginia.

     One of the ritziest resorts in Arizona has changed hands. The Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain, once described as a “harmonious place where you’ll find every amenity under the sun,” now belongs to a group led by David Mehl of Cottonwood Properties and Humberto S. Lopez of HSL Properties. The price: $45.5 million. The purchase includes the infamous Golf Club at Dove Mountain, a venue that hosted the WGC Accenture Match Play Championship for several years until high-profile players rebelled -- the greens were too tough, they griped -- and forced the event to relocate. The greens they found difficult to negotiate were part of a 27-hole, Jack Nicklaus “signature” complex.

     Regarding Concert Golf Partners’ expected acquisition of Crestview Country Club: The deal is done. Crestview, a financially troubled, 36-hole venue in Wichita, Kansas, has become the 13th property owned by CGP, and the 14th will likely be counted soon, as Peter Nanula’s investment group is scheduled to close on Norbeck Country Club in Rockville, Maryland later this month. A 15th doesn’t appear to be on the immediate horizon, but Nanula told the Orange County Business Journal that he and his partners aim to buy six to eight additional properties.

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