Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Week That Was, february, 19, 2017

     For sale: One of the world’s greatest golf courses.
     We’re talking about Cape Wickham Links, a renowned oceanfront track that occupies part of a 330-acre parcel on King Island in Tasmania. The 18-hole layout, co-designed by Mike DeVries and Darius Oliver, is barely a year old, and it made its way onto world’s-best rankings within minutes of its opening in late 2015. To cite just one point of view, Golf Digest considers it to be Australia’s #1 public-access course and #24 on the planet.
     Ironically, though, Cape Wickham’s success has given its owner, Duncan Andrews, some unexpected headaches. “I built Cape Wickham to see if I could build a course that was ranked in the world’s top 100,” Andrews confessed to Golf Australia. Now, he says, in order to keep the financial momentum going he’s got to build more accommodations and other amenities for golf travelers, and, at the age of 68, he simply isn’t up to the challenge.
     “Sixteen months after opening,” he explained, “I seem to be running a resort hotel with a golf course, and I don’t want to run a resort hotel regardless of how well it is going.”
     The asking price for Cape Wickham hasn’t been announced. But in addition to the golf course and 16 rooms for overnight guests, the property includes a tantalizing prospect: Enough land for nine or more additional holes.

     Here are some words and phrases used by President Trump’s sons at events held in connection with the opening of Trump International Golf Club Dubai: “incredible,” “awe-inspiring,” “amazing person,” “amazing company,” “amazing family,” “great friend,” and “this is just the beginning.” Here are some words and phrases used by the Associated Press reporter who covered the Trumps’ visit: “fireworks,” “classical music,” “metal detector,” “Secret Service detail,” “global terror risk,” “security and ethical issues,” and “emoluments clause.”

     An investment group led by Phil “the Gambler” Mickelson has agreed to buy a daily-fee golf course in Chandler, Arizona.
     Mickelson and his partners – his brother, his college golf coach, a local developer, and his long-time agent – hope to close soon on Ocotillo Golf Club, a 31-year-old facility that promotes itself as “the premier golf, dining, and social destination in the Valley of The Sun.” Ocotillo is managed by Troon Golf, and it features a 27-hole complex that was designed by Ted Robinson.
     Mickelson currently owns an interest in two private golf venues in the Phoenix area – McDowell Mountain Golf Club in Scottsdale and Palm Valley Golf Club in Goodyear – along with Stone Canyon Club in Oro Valley and two in Payson, Golf Club at Chaparral Pines and the Rim Golf Club. He’s packaged these properties and markets them as an “elite,” “exclusive” limited-membership club called, appropriately, Mickelson Private Golf Corporate Membership.
     Ocotillo isn’t part of the group, and the prospective owners haven’t suggested that they plan to take it private. For what it’s worth, though, an online reviewer describes the club’s tracks as being “full of water and goose poop.”

     While it waits to find a buyer, ClubCorp continues to add to its portfolio. For an undisclosed price, the Dallas, Texas-based course owner and operator has acquired its first property in Maryland, Eagle’s Nest Country Club in suburban Baltimore. Eagle’s Nest opened in 1970, as Towson Golf & Country Club, and it features an 18-hole layout that was co-designed by Geoffrey Cornish and Bill Robinson. It nearly bit the dust in 2015, as it was burdened by $4.8 million in accumulated debt, but it settled with its lender for $2.5 million. ClubCorp describes Eagle’s Nest as “an exceptional club in a beautiful area of the country” and “a perfect complement” to its ever-growing collection of golf clubs. Once upon a time, the club counted Johnny Unitas and Brooks Robinson, a pair of local sports legends, among its members.

   The ice-cream business doesn’t appear to be satisfying Jack Nicklaus’ yearning for corporate growth. According to the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, the golf legend and serial product endorser wants to build a hotel in a northern suburb of Minneapolis, an area that reportedly has a need for overnight accommodations. In addition to ice cream, these days Nicklaus has his name on lemonade, water, wine, pens, turf, and other products, but as best I can determine he hasn’t yet developed a hotel. You know what they say, though: There’s a first time for everything.

     A magazine is ultimately an advertisement for itself, but the top executives of Asia Pacific Golf Group have taken self-aggrandizement to a comically absurd level. Across 18 pages in the December issue of Asian Golf Monthly, in a recap of its annual Asian Golf Awards presentation, APGG published 18 pictures of its CEO and a whopping 35 pictures of its president. Ken Chu, David Leadbetter, Brian Curley, Mark Siegel, and other golf-industry notables accepted awards at the event, but there’s no doubt about who were the real stars of the show.

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