Sunday, September 11, 2016

The Week That Was, september 11, 2016

     The world leader in private clubs -- a phrase I can’t use without noting that it’s trademarked -- will soon be building relationships and enriching lives -- darn it, there goes another trademarked phrase -- in suburban Columbus, Ohio. ClubCorp has acquired Heritage Golf Club, a 22-year-old venue that features an 18-hole, P. B. Dye-designed golf course. I’m sure that a $934 million company doesn’t need any advice about how to write a press release, but ClubCorp’s announcement says that Heritage’s golf course was “shaped in the famous Dye tradition of illusion and deception with undulating greens, signature railroad ties, and numerous sparkling lakes.” Those phrases bear a striking resemblance to a description published by GolfNow: “The layout is one of illusion and deception with large, undulating greens and the Dye signature railroad ties.” Could the similarity just be a coincidence? The same writer, maybe? ClubCorp views Heritage as “a perfect complement to our other clubs in the Ohio market.” The company’s other clubs in “the Ohio market” -- or in what most people would simply call Ohio -- are Firestone Country Club in Akron, Silver Lake Country Club in Silver Lake, and Quail Hollow Country Club in Concord.

     The developers of Bear’s Club, a venue in Jupiter, Florida that lists Jack Nicklaus as one of its managing members, has paid a $400,000 fine to settle a lawsuit brought by the federal government over violations of the Clean Water Act. The suit alleged that the club had improperly filled an acre of wetlands. Earlier this year, the developers’ lawyer acknowledged that his clients had made “minor alterations to the golf course” and complained that “the federal government should have better things to do than fool around with this nonsense.” As part of the settlement, Bear’s Club also promised to preserve seven acres of wetlands at a nearby nature preserve.

     Regarding Jack Nicklaus’ expected takeover of Cold Spring Country Club, on New York’s Long Island: Not gonna happen. Gary Melius, the owner of the historic Oheka Castle estate that serves as the club’s home, told Newsday that he doesn’t expect to close the deal. He described the venture, which would have involved a redesign of Cold Springs’ Seth Raynor-designed golf course, as “dead.” Newsday also reports that Melius’s representatives are now pitching the opportunity to Donald “the Candidate” Trump’s company.

     Speaking of deals going sour, the expected sale of Accordia Golf Company is, at least for now, off the table. According to Reuters, the Japanese golf operator’s market value has “surged in recent weeks,” thanks in part to the disclosure of the pending sale, so Seoul, South Korea-based MBK Partners, the prospective buyer, lost its bargaining position. Funny thing, though: As soon as investors heard that the transaction had gone south, the price of Accordia’s stock fell by 12 percent. So maybe MBK isn’t completely out of the game.

     A few weeks ago, an entity controlled by the Shangri-La hotel group opened Sri Lanka’s first “resort” golf course. The “eco-friendly,” Rodney Wright-designed track is the centerpiece of Shangri-La’s Hambantota Resort & Spa, a 145-acre spread along the island nation’s southern coast that includes a beachfront hotel, the obligatory spa, tropical gardens, and a collection of eateries. Wright apprenticed with Kirby Griffiths & Associates and then joined the late Robin Nelson to create Nelson & Wright Golf Course Architects. Together, the duo co-designed several courses in Hawaii, their home base, as well as Bali Golf & Country Club in Nusa Dua, Bali. On his own, Wright has produced courses in Seychelles (Lemuria Championship Golf Course on Praslin Island) and Mauritius (Tamarina Golf Estate & Beach Club on Tamarin Bay). According to the Daily Mirror, the resort in Hambantota hopes to “promote happiness among the visitors,” and Shangri-La says that Wright’s 18-hole layout, which was routed through a former coconut palm plantation, will “cater to even the most seasoned golf enthusiast.”

     The original version of the preceding post first appeared in the June 2016 issue of the World Edition of the Golf Course Report.

     Correction: In a recent post, I incorrectly stated that Bay Club Company’s two recent golf acquisitions, Fairbanks Ranch Country Club and Golf Club at Boulder Ridge, are “the first golf properties” in the company’s portfolio. In fact, Bay Club has owned StoneTree Golf Club in Novato, California since the fall of 2014. Doug Nickels, a regular reader, pointed out my mistake, and I thank him for notifying me. Of course, I should have known about Bay Club’s purchase of StoneTree, seeing as how I wrote about it when it happened.

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