Sunday, December 4, 2016

The Week That Was, december 4, 2016

     If one hand truly does wash the other, where will the 2018 edition of the Philippine Masters be played?
     The European Tour, the decider in such matters, hasn’t yet announced a venue for the first professional event to be held in the Philippines since 1995, but the odds-on choice has to be the Don Salvador Zamora Championship Course, an 18-hole track located roughly 40 miles southwest of Manila. If you’ve never heard of the DSZ, you aren’t alone, because it doesn’t exist. It isn’t scheduled to open until about this time next year. It’s taking shape on property currently occupied by a course that you might be familiar with, though, the Puerto Azul Golf & Country Club. Puerto Azul’s nearly 40-year-old layout, a co-design by Gary Player and Ron Kirby, formerly hosted the Philippine Open and other high-profile regional events, but these days it’s nowhere near to being in shape for an international tournament. It’s being completely redesigned.
     By happy coincidence, earlier this year Puerto Azul was leased to Salvador “Buddy” Zamora II, the licensee to Philippine events that will be played on the European Tour between 2018 and 2020. Zamora controls companies involved in mining, renewable-energy production, agricultural products, hotel operations, and real-estate development, but it appears that his true love is golf. Just last month, he staged an exhibition match that pitted his favorite professional golfer, Jason Day, against Rory McIlroy.
     “My vision is to continue bringing in world-class golfing events to the Philippines to thrill our golf enthusiasts and fans, giving them access to the game and the players that they love,” he recently told the Manila Standard.
     Zamora is spending $18 million or more to ensure that Puerto Azul can host those world-class golfing events. And to make absolutely, positively certain that the forthcoming DSZ will meet the European Tour’s standards, he’s hired European Golf Design to do the makeover. EGD, a British firm, is co-owned by the tour, and over the years it’s designed, co-designed, or redesigned many, if not all, of the tour-affiliated courses on the planet, including its Ryder Cup venues and the courses at its “branded” communities. If any firm on the planet can deliver a tour-approved course, it’s EGD.
     In this scenario, everyone benefits: Zamora and his companies put their names in newspapers and on television, the European Tour establishes a presence in a promising market, EGD gets a high-profile commission, and a few dozen of the world’s elite golfers cash another paycheck.
    It’s how the system works. On hand washes the other.

     Some information in the preceding post first appeared in the October 2016 issue of the World Edition of the Golf Course Report.

     A Japanese hotelier has chosen to make its first international investments, including a golf course, in one of Vietnam’s fastest-growing vacation spots. Tokyo-based Route-Inn believes there’s money to be made in Đà Nẵng, the largest city on the Central Coast, and it recently sought permission to build a golf course within a short drive of the city. Katsutoshi Nagayama, the company’s chairman, sees synergies in these investments, as he plans to host tournaments and other golf-related events that will fill his hotels with Japanese tourists. Nagayama, who’s been described by Deal Street Asia as a billionaire, is just getting started, however. By 2025, he hopes to own 50 hotels, resorts, and golf courses throughout Vietnam -- in Đà Nẵng, Huế, Hội An, Hà Nội, and Hồ Chí Minh City. Route-Inn’s real-estate portfolio is said to include 265 Japanese hotels, nearly two dozen restaurants, a ski area, and at least three golf courses. For its initial foreign investments, the company has chosen a place that’s quickly emerging into a golf destination. In recent years, four golf properties have opened in greater Đà Nẵng, all of them with celebrity-designed courses that have earned critical recognition: Montgomerie Links (it has a Colin Montgomerie-designed course), Đà Nẵng Golf Club (Greg Norman), Laguna Lăng Cô Golf Club (Nick Faldo), and Bà Nà Hills Golf Club (Luke Donald). Route-Inn hasn’t identified an architect for its course, but these days it may be difficult for a golf operator to compete in Đà Nẵng without a “signature” layout.

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

     A welcome increase in tourist traffic may soon give the golf industry in Cyprus a lift. The island nation in the eastern Mediterranean is expecting to break tourism records this year, thanks in part to vacationers from Russia and the United Kingdom seeking warm, safe places to take their families. “We’re having, and will have, a fantastic year,” the nation’s minister of energy, commerce, industry and tourism, said last summer. To capitalize on the opportunity, Skift reports that government officials are pressing ahead with plans to build golf courses, marinas, and other attractions, in particular a “super casino” near Larnaka that could, it’s been said, “rival some of the casinos currently seen in Las Vegas.” The number of entities seeking to build the casino (along with hotels, entertainment venues, a theme park, and a golf course) has been whittled down to three, and the tourism ministry is supposed to pick a winner by the end of the year. In the meantime, the ministry is also hoping to find private groups willing to build as many as five other golf courses, all as part of its continuing effort to keep the tourism turnstiles moving.

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