Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Week That Was, november 27, 2016

     Gil Hanse’s golf course in Rio de Janeiro may be a critical success, but it isn’t doing much to grow the game in Brazil. In fact, an international news service suggests that the track has such serious money troubles that it may soon go out of business. Agence France Presse reports that the course, which hosted the golf competition for the 2016 Olympics, attracts only 40 paying customers on an average day and that its operators, who haven’t been paid for two months, and are “set to pull out” as early as next month. This disturbing news should remind us of the many headaches that were involved in getting the course built in the first place. Once again, golf in Brazil is proving itself to be one of the nine circles of hell, and our industry’s leadership may soon be resigned to post the warning that Dante made famous in the Inferno: “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”

     The members of Las Vegas Country Club have decided to sell their nearly 50-year-old property to Discovery Land Company. If due diligence proceeds without a hitch, DLC and a partner, Wolff Company, will close on the transaction in early 2017. Las Vegas -- Sin City’s first private-equity golf club -- features a colorful history and an 18-hole, Ed Ault-designed golf course. Its members were hoping to get $24 million or more for their 120-acre property, but the Las Vegas Review-Journal says that a proposal from the prospective owners lists an “aggregate consideration,” which sounds suspiciously like a sales price, of $22.5 million. Each of the club’s members will reportedly receive a “net payment” of roughly $29,350. DLC owns close to 20 golf properties in the United States, Mexico, and the Bahamas. Next year, it expects to open a second private golf club in Las Vegas, the Summit Club, a suburban venue it describes as a “private heirloom community.”

     Just two months after Arnold Palmer’s passing, the golf industry has lost another legend.
     Peggy Kirk Bell, described variously as “a tribute to the game of golf,” “an inspirational figure to thousands,” and “the female Arnold Palmer,” died last week at her home in Southern Pines, North Carolina. She was 95, and she’d lived what must have been a truly wonderful life, one dedicated almost entirely to golf in general and women’s golf in particular.
     Bell was an accomplished golfer, a renowned golf instructor, and a tireless ambassador for the sport. “She supported juniors, she helped touring pros, she was there for seniors, she was there for women,” a past president of the U.S. Golf Association said of Bell. “She was there for the game.”
     In the 1940s, before a professional golf tour for women had been established, Bell was one of America’s best-known amateur golfers. She left what’s been called “one of the most impressive amateur records ever compiled,” and she was a member of the 1950 Curtis Cup team. Eventually, she helped to establish the Ladies Professional Golf Association. On occasion, she’d fly to tournaments in her own plane. The news coverage helped to promote the events.
     Bell never tried to make a name for herself in professional golf, however. Instead, she dedicated herself to teaching. She became a nationally recognized instructor and the first woman inducted to the PGA Golf Instructors Hall of Fame. She made instructional videos and wrote a book called A Women’s Way to Better Golf.
     Bell was also a course owner and operator. She and her husband, the late Warren Bell, owned two popular and well-regarded golf properties in the Pinehurst area, Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club and Mid Pines Inn & Golf Club. The U.S. Women’s Open was played at Pine Needles three times, in 1996, 2001, and 2007. The mayor of Southern Pines believes that Bell “solidified Southern Pines as a golfing destination” and that “golfers from around the world return each year to Pine Needles and Mid Pines because Mrs. Bell treated everyone like royalty and made golf fun.”
     For her contributions to golf, Bell was honored by institutions including the U.S. Golf Association (it gave her the Bob Jones Award), the LPGA (the Patty Berg Award), the National Golf Course Owners Association of America (the Order of Merit), and the National Golf Foundation (the Joe Graffis Award). She was named to at least seven halls of fame, and a golf tour for girls has been named after her.
     “Bell was the personal embodiment of the history of golf,” the Raleigh News & Observer wrote in an appreciation. “She knew everyone, lived through everything, [and] quickly earned the respect of everyone who met her.”
     Few people have done as much for golf as Bell. May her spirit live on.

No comments:

Post a Comment