Sunday, August 27, 2017

The Week That Was, august 27, 2017

     Brazil’s golf industry is still waiting for its post-Olympics bump. The course that hosted the golf competition at last year’s Games, in Rio de Janeiro, is ringing up only 700 rounds a month, a number that would jeopardize the future of any venue that needs to survive without outside financial support. Let’s break down the numbers: According to its operators, roughly 15 percent of the course’s 8,400 annual tee times are filled by foreigners who are charged $150 a round. Total income: $189,000, presuming that every round is fully paid. If all of the 7,140 remaining rounds could somehow be played at the $75 weekend rate – and unfortunately, many of them are played at the $50 weekday rate – they’d generate $535,500. Total ideal-scenario revenues: $724,500, not counting cart fees, merchandise and food-and-beverage sales, and other income. The Golf Channel reports that course’s operators have set out to double the number of rounds played on the course. If they aren’t successful, then what?

     It’s become difficult, if not impossible, to develop golf communities in China, so a Chinese group hopes to develop one in the United States. I say “hopes” because Yihai Group, a home builder based in Dalian, has picked a promising but wet place for its first U.S. golf venture: Cleveland, Texas, a town northeast of Houston. Yihai’s Grand Oaks Reserve will occupy 615 acres and feature 976 single-family homes, 256 condos, and 416 apartments, along with commercial and retail space and a variety of recreational amenities, including a nine-hole golf course. The course has been designed by Mike Nuzzo, who’s best known for creating Wolf Point Golf Club, outside Port Lavaca, Texas. Grand Oaks Reserve will no doubt be delayed by the flooding in southeastern Texas, but Yihai can look on the bright side: The demand for housing in metropolitan Houston is about to explode.

     The next time he signs his name, Mike Keiser can legitimately add the initials HOF. The celebrated Chicago-based developer of Bandon Dunes and other world-class golf destinations has been elected to the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame, an honor shared by more than 300 other sports luminaries, among them Scotty Bowman, Ron Jaworski, Jack Kemp, Christian Laettner, O. J. Simpson, Warren Spahn, and Dick "The Destroyer" Beyer. Keiser, who grew up in suburban Buffalo and caddied at East Aurora Country Club, will be inducted on November 1.

     Time has run out on an A. W. Tillinghast-designed golf course in White Plains, New York. Ridgewood Real Estate Partners, a firm that targets golf properties for residential development, has paid $13 million for Elmwood Country Club, a formerly member-owned venue that’s operated since the late 1920s. Elmwood, which had reportedly “lost a number of members” and was skating on thin financial ice, will host its final rounds in late September. Ridgewood hasn’t commented on the purchase, but it’s expected to build houses on Elmwood’s 120 acres. History always serves as a guide, and the company owns three other golf properties that are slated for development: Apple Ridge Country Club in Mahwah, New Jersey; Edgmont Country Club in suburban Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Grande Pines Golf Club outside Orlando, Florida.

     Surplus Transactions – Boonville, Indiana will soon own Quail Crossing Golf Course, an 18-hole, Tom Doak-designed track that was reportedly styled “in imitation of Shinnecock Hills.” The city has voted to issue $950,000 in bonds to pay for the 20-year-old venue, but it’ll probably pay less. The seller is an affiliate of Warrior Asset Management, an entity that claims to own and operate 19 other golf properties from coast to coast. . . . A defunct golf course on the Grand Strand may soon come back to life. Harry Karetas, the owner of a self-storage company, recently paid $650,000 for Wedgefield Plantation Country Club, a 45-year-old property that he hopes to overhaul and lease and reopen by the spring of 2019. The club, in Georgetown, South Carolina, features an 18-hole track that was co-designed by Porter Gibson and Bob Toski. The property had been owned by Ray Watts, a developer who defaulted on a loan made by Phoenix, Arizona-based Paramont Capital. . . . Greg Bower has acquired what’s said to be the oldest public golf course in York County, Pennsylvania. Bower and some family members reportedly paid $2.15 million for Grandview Golf Course, an 18-hole track that was once owned by Fred Waring, the big-band leader who invented the Waring blender. Grandview opened in two phases, the first nine in the 1920s and the second in the 1930s.

     Even More Surplus Transactions – A company that builds communities for seniors has agreed to buy Ashley Plantation Country Club, an 18-year-old venue outside Roanoke, Virginia. Ashley Plantation once had a 27-hole golf complex, but nine holes have been closed and will likely be developed by the prospective buyer, Runk & Pratt Healthcare Enterprises Inc. Runk & Pratt owns two other courses in the state, Ivy Hill Golf Club in Forest and Willows Golf Club in Hurt. It’s buying Ashley Plantation from Bank of Fincastle, which took possession of the property a year ago. . . . At an auction last month, Andres Castellanos bid $902,000 to make what he called “a dream come true for me.” Castellanos, a co-owner of self-storage properties, agreed to buy North River Golf Club, an 18-hole, executive-length track in Stuart, Florida. The Arthur Young-designed layout at North River has operated since 1977 (it was originally called Pine Lakes Golf Club), and Castellanos grew up playing it. . . . Terry Reinhart has purchased Wayside Golf Course, a nine-hole track in Findlay, Ohio that caters to families, beginners, and seniors. A purchase price hasn’t been disclosed, but Reinhart bought the course from Earl and Jackie Risner, who’d owned it for 22 years. The course now operates as Broken Birdie Golf Course.

     Myanmar’s golf dreams may be short-lived. The nation is hoping that a spate of golf construction might help to spark a tourism boom, but it’s fighting an uphill battle against vestiges of its cruel past. Hotel Management reports that Myanmar’s hotels “are sitting idle” and that travel numbers have “continued to plunge,” largely due to “continuous ethnic violence” fueled by a corrupt military. Citing data provided by the Ministry of Hotels & Tourism, the magazine says a mere 2.9 million international travelers visited Myanmar last year, 38 percent fewer than the 4.7 million who visited in 2015. Two new golf courses are expected to open this year, including a Lee Schmidt-designed course in metropolitan Mandalay, but Myanmar isn’t going to become a tourist destination until it sheds its image as a human-rights violator. Political repression is bad for business.

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