Sunday, April 9, 2017

The Week That Was, april 9, 2017

     Like the U.S. golf course industry itself, Trump Golf is facing “hard times,” according to the Wall Street Journal. On the plus side, the newspaper estimates that the company’s 10 U.S. golf properties are collectively worth $266 million, a $24 million increase (9 percent) from their value in 2012. On the minus side, though, the president’s company has reportedly spent $310 million on capital improvements to those properties since 2012. The newspaper’s terse conclusion: “The net value of the clubs after investment has declined significantly over the last five years.” One other thing: Though Mar-a-Lago recently doubled its initiation fee, to $200,000, in a video report the Journal says the joining fees at some Trump properties has been “frozen or cut” in recent years.

     Cobbtown, Georgia. Come next year, Gil Hanse expects to debut a high-concept golf venue on a former Vidalia onion farm. The 18-hole track will be the centerpiece of Ohoopee Match Club, which gets its name from the scoring system to be used there. “They’ve asked us to come up with some really interesting half-shot holes and build a golf course that will be fun to play during a match, as opposed to pencil and scorecard,” Hanse told Southeast Georgia Today. “They” refers to the ownership group, an LLC led by Michael Walrath. A former ad man, Walrath got rich in 2007, when Yahoo paid $850 million for his company. With money in his pocket, he founded a venture-capital firm, invested in a film-production company and some Internet-related entities, and donated to arts, humanitarian, and environmental groups. He hasn’t yet gone public with his plans for Ohoopee, but the farmer who sold the property to him expects to see a 50-room lodge emerge near the golf course.

     Pipeline Overflow – In what’s been described as “one of the golfing world’s most anticipated openings,” Els Club Desaru Coast, in Malaysia, has lifted the curtain on its Valley complex. The 27-hole venue, co-designed by Ernie Els and his “great friend” Vijay Singh, will complement the resort’s 18-hole Ocean course, an Els solo effort that opened last year. A press release contends that the addition will boost “the prestige and appeal of what is already one of the world’s premier destinations for golf” and make the resort “an international icon.” . . . Later this year, a golf course “full of excitement and beauty” will debut at Urubó Golf & Country Club, in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. The 18-hole layout has been co-designed by Blake Stirling and Marco Martín, the principals of a Spanish firm who aim “to produce a golfing experience where all levels of golfers yearn to repeat it over and over.” . . . Cynthia Dye’s first golf course in Portugal, breathlessly described as “Europe’s most eagerly awaited new golf course design project,” is scheduled to open in June. A press release calls West Cliffs Golf Course, on the nation’s Silver Coast, “a harmonious and sustainable links” that’s located on “the most natural golf course site imaginable.” Not to be outdone, the property’s director of golf thinks the 18-hole layout has “perfected nature.”

     Crystal River, Florida. An Atlanta, Georgia-based resort owner has purchased its first golf property in Florida, and its third overall. Kingwood International Resorts paid an undisclosed price for Plantation on Crystal River, which has operated on the gulf coast, roughly 70 miles north of Tampa, since the mid 1950s. The seller was Scout Hotels & Resorts. The Plantation includes a hotel, a marina, meeting space, a shopping area, places to eat and drink, and a 27-hole golf complex (a regulation 18 and a nine-hole executive-length track) that was designed by Mark Mahannah. Its general manager expect the new owners to take the property “to the next level.” In Georgia, Kingwood owns Kingwood Country Club & Golf Resort in Clayton, Georgia and Achasta Golf Resort in Dahlonega.

     Surplus Transactions -- Grand Rapids, Michigan is going to lose its Donald Ross-designed golf course. The Blandford Nature Center and the Land Conservancy of West Michigan have paid $3.5 million for the 18-hole track at Highlands Golf Club, a venue that hosted a Senior PGA Tour event in the 1980s and 1990s. The new owners intend to turn the 121-acre spread into something resembling its natural state. . . . Jeff and Dana Pilarcek have acquired Endwell Greens Golf Club, a 180-acre spread outside Binghamton, New York. The club’s 18-hole track, co-designed by Geoffrey Cornish and Bill Robinson, has operated since 1965. The new owners plan to make the course “a little more playable.” . . . In what’s said to be “the largest single real estate transaction” in the history of Charlotte, North Carolina, a New York City-based investment group has purchased Ballantyne Corporate Park, a 535-acre property that includes Golf Club at Ballantyne and its 18-hole course. According to the Charlotte Observer, Northwood Investors paid more than $33 million for the club and some adjacent property. For the whole kit and caboodle, Northwood is believed to have paid more than $1 billion.

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