Sunday, March 25, 2018

The Week That Was, march 25, 2018

     The American Society of Golf Course Architects apparently has no credible candidate for its most prestigious honor, so it’s giving the 2018 Donald Ross Award to George Bush, who served as our nation’s 41st president. The award is made annually, to an individual who’s made “a significant contribution to the game of golf and the profession of golf course architecture.” John Sanford, the ASGCA’s president, believes that Bush “exemplifies the highest traditions of golf, from displaying the values of good sportsmanship to respecting pace of play and everything in between.” He’s also been accused of groping a half-dozen women, including a 16-year-old.

     Regarding the preceding item: The ASGCA officials who made this bewildering and socially odious decision need to defend it or resign.

     The defunct Highland Park Country Club, a municipal property in suburban Chicago, Illinois, may get a second life as a Golf Mecca. The money-losing club closed in December and is booked for a sale to a local park district, but a trio of investors believe its 100 acres could be repurposed as a golf practice center. Specifically, David Fairman, Keith Bank, and Dave Esler (yes, the course designer) want to establish a six-hole layout on the property, along with nine “short” holes, a putting course, and other attractions. This is an 11th-hour bid that may not succeed, and at least one of the investors doesn’t think the Mecca (you know, mecca is a Muslim word) has much chance of being especially profitable. The alternative, however, is the park district’s plan: A nature preserve with walking trails.

     Pipeline Overflow – Coalville, Utah, which is said to be a “passionately rural town” with a “working-class feel” and not even one stoplight, may soon sprout 500 houses and a golf course. Wohali Partners LLC has identified a 1,500-acre spread west of town for its to-be-named community, and it’s seeking an annexation that’s currently being debated. . . . Tim Lobb has been hired to design what he says will be “the first full 18-hole course” in Ankara, Turkey. The track at Regnum Ankara Golf Estate will be Lobb’s fourth in the nation and his third for developer Fikret Ozturk, who’s master-planned his 500 acres to include houses, a sports club, and a retail/commercial area. . . . Millbrook Resort, on New Zealand’s South Island, is moving ahead with plans to add nine holes to its 27-hole golf complex. The resort is taking its time with the project, which was announced in 2014, but by 2021 or 2022 it expects to have 18-hole tracks designed by Sir Bob Charles and Greg Turner. Eiichi Ishii bought Millbrook in the late 1980s and has set out to create “the best golf and lifestyle resort in the world.”

     Paa-Ko Ridge Golf Club, ranked by Golf Digest as the #2 golf venue in New Mexico, has changed hands. Roger Cox & Associates has sold the club and its 27-hole, Finger Dye Spann-designed golf complex to Tony Alvarez and Bryan Marsal, a pair of New Yorkers who claim to be experts in turning around under-performing properties. Paa-Ko Ridge’s original 18 opened in 2000, and its third nine was added in 2006. The club, in Sandia Park, has experienced an erosion in play, however, as it attracted as many as 30,000 rounds annually in the early 2000s but has only rung up about 23,000 annually over the past decade. The new owners believe they can “make something special” at the club, though, with special being defined as 18 guest cottages and a lodge with 62 rooms for overnight guests.

     Surplus Transactions – A homeowners’ group in metropolitan Richmond, Virginia has paid $2 million for Brickshire Golf Club, the amenity that anchors their community. The 229-acre venue features an 18-hole course, co-designed by Curtis Strange and Tom Clark, that reportedly imitates holes from famous courses around the world. The seller, Traditional Golf Properties, owns two other nearby golf properties, Tradition Golf Club at Royal New Kent and Tradition Golf Club at Stonehouse, both of which are said to be for sale. . . . One of the oldest golf venues in Wisconsin is about to change hands. Come next month, Prestwick Group expects to acquire La Belle Golf Club, which opened in 1896 (with nine holes) as the Country Club of Oconomowoc and later operated as Rolling Hills Country Club. Prestwick hasn’t publicly outlined its plans for the property, but John Meunier, the current owner, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he expects La Belle to be “a fantastic golf property once they’re finished.” The club, which is located in Oconomowoc, now has 18 holes and is open to the public. . . . Just weeks after declaring for bankruptcy protection, a group led by Ryan Voorhees has found a buyer for La Contenta Golf Club, a 45-year-old venue in Valley Springs, California. Gentium Golf has agreed to pay an as-yet undisclosed price for La Contenta, which features an 18-hole, Richard Bigler-designed layout.

     The venue that describes itself as “the birthplace of organized golf in the State of Tennessee” has mercifully gone belly up. Country Club of Bristol, originally established in 1894, has been in deep financial trouble for more than a decade, and its fate was all but sealed when Integrity Golf Company walked away from its management contract roughly a year ago. The club closed briefly in 2005 but was rescued by the principals of Interstate Realty Company, but then a bank took it over in 2013 and sold it in 2015 to Bristol Preservation, which now promises to “share any future plans for the club at a later date.” Bristol, which moved to its present location in 1958, once had an A. G. McKay-designed golf course, but the 18-hole track was redesigned by Mark McCumber in 1999.

     Desolation Row Extended – Sometime in 2019, as part of a plan that was hatched several years ago, the city of Plano, Texas expects to close Club at Los Rios and turn its 194 acres into a park. The 18-hole layout was designed by Don January and opened in 1971. The city bought it in 2014, reportedly for $3.5 million. . . . The city of Lindsay, California has pulled the plug on its municipal golf course, a 55-year-old venue that nowadays reportedly gets “very little use.” The nine-hole, Bob Baldock-designed track is slated to become a soccer complex. . . . William Doebler, who was recently found to operate a work environment that was hostile to women, has drawn the curtains on Mississippi Dunes Golf Links, his 18-hole golf course in Cottage Grove, Minnesota. The track is still for sale, as it’s been for months, but now there’s little hope of the property being anything but a subdivision.

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