Sunday, April 15, 2018

The Week That Was, april 15, 2018

     Golfers in large numbers continue to vacation in Spain, particularly at its sunny, family-friendly coastal resorts, but the nation’s native golf business hasn’t yet shaken off the after-effects of the world economic collapse. According to a “country snapshot” freshly published by KPMG’s Golf Advisory Practice, the number of golfers in Spain, one of Europe’s long-established golf markets, fell by 18 percent between 2010 and 2017 (a loss of 61,070 players), while the number of courses added to the nation’s inventory was flat (actual increase: four courses). By any reasonable measure, these are disappointing figures. Nonetheless, KPMG’s Budapest-based analysts believe that stability – not growth, necessarily – may be just around the corner. They note, for example, that Spain lost only 1,400 golfers, year over year, in 2017, and therefore conclude that “the stabilization of the Spanish golf market has begun.” They may be right, but they may also be coming to a false conclusion based on an incredibly small sample size. For the record, as of year-end 2017 Spain had 349 courses and 270,463 card-carrying members of the Royal Spanish Golf Federation, numbers that translate to 5 percent of Europe’s courses and 6 percent of its registered golfers. And it you’re wondering, the vast majority (71 percent) of the tourists who prop up the nation’s golf operations arrive from England, France, and Germany, but Spain also draws significant traffic from Ireland and Scandinavia.

     It’s taken something like five years, but the owner of China’s Golf Channel has finally gotten a green light for his golf venture on Lindeman Island, in Queensland, Australia. If all goes according to plan, William Han expects to break ground next year on a 1,750-acre resort that will feature a variety of housing types, several hotels, places to eat, drink, and be merry, and a golf course. If Han’s name rings a bell, it’s probably because he once hired Tom Doak to design a pair of golf courses on Hainan Island, neither of which ever hosted a paid-for round. His venture on Lindeman Island has so far been a repeat performance, but state officials and the local business community clearly hope he delivers on his promises, as the economy in the Whitsundays could use a boost. Han’s resort will take shape on the island’s shuttered Club Med resort, his aim being to create a vacation destination for Chinese tourists. Nobody has to tell him that the tourists are still out there, in ever-larger numbers and with ever-deeper pockets.

     Some information in the preceding post first appeared in the August 2013 issue of the World Edition of the Golf Course Report.

     Pipeline Overflow – Speaking of Queensland, Graham Marsh has been hired to design an 18-hole course for a seniors-only community outside Gladstone. The track will be the centerpiece of Boyneglade, a 650-acre spread that’s been master-planned to include housing for both stay-at-homes and “grey nomads” who travel in RVs. . . . Bayelsa State, in Nigeria, has set out to create what the Vanguard believes will be a “new, ultra-modern” capital city that will be “compared to world-class cities in developed countries.” This new Yenagoa will feature, among other things, a “castle hotel,” a heliport, and a golf course. . . . Tbilisi Hills Golf Club may be the first 18-hole golf course in Georgia’s capital city, but it won’t be the only course. Tabori Hill Golf course, a nine-hole track designed by Kevin Ramsey, is expected to debut before the end of the year.

     A group led by Chip Smith, the owner of Atlantic Golf Management, has acquired Brunswick Plantation & Golf Resort, an under-performing 27-year-old property in Calabash, North Carolina. Brunswick Plantation, which occupies 1,750 acres, claims to embody “southern architecture, southern landscaping, and southern hospitality,” and it features a 27-hole golf complex that was designed by Willard Byrd. Smith thinks it has “a ton of potential,” and he told the Myrtle Beach Sun News that he and his partners expect to “turn it around and turn it into what it should be.” Atlantic Golf Management operates Whispering Pines Golf Club, a municipal track in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and it owns a minority stake in Wellington National Golf Club (the former Binks Forest Golf Club) in Wellington, Florida. It bought Brunswick Plantation from Caw Caw Land Corporation, the community’s original developer.

     Surplus TranactionsJoel Goldstrand’s first golf course has changed hands. Greg McKush has paid an undisclosed price for Montgomery National Golf Club, an 18-hole layout in metropolitan Minneapolis, Minnesota that opened, with nine holes, in 1970. Goldstrand, who rarely gets credit for helping to pioneer the design of “reversible” golf courses, reportedly added the second nine in 1993. . . . Jim Justice’s golf course in Beckley, West Virginia is going to get a second life. For an undisclosed price that can’t exceed $3.5 million, city officials have agreed to buy Black Knight Country Club, which has operated since 1929. Justice, who owns the Greenbrier and other golf properties in the state, bought Black Knight and its nine-hole golf course in 2011, reportedly for $1 million. He closed it late last year, a year after he was elected as West Virginia’s governor, because he no longer believes it’s financially sustainable. . . . Northridge Hills Golf Course, a 20-year-old track in Jacksonville, Illinois, has been sold to the couple who live in the house on hole #9. John and Rachel Rohn agreed to buy the nine-hole track because they feared that it might not open this year.

     Even More Surplus Transactions – Sussex Pines Country Club, a 51-year-old venue in Georgetown, Delaware, has new owners and a new name. Acting on what’s been described as “a whim,” Pete and Michele Townsend bought the financially troubled club from its members earlier this year, and it now operates as Mulligan’s Point Golf & Community Club. Whatever it’s called, though, the property features an 18-hole course with nine holes designed by Ed Ault and nine designed by Al Janis. . . . The nine-hole track in Greencastle, Indiana that serves as the home of DePauw University’s golf teams has been experiencing those dreaded “financial strains,” and it apparently has three years to reverse its fortunes. Lee Tenzer, a member of the university’s board of trustees, recently acquired the 63-year-old Windy Hill Country Club, but he’s only making a short-term commitment to golf operations. Maybe he thinks the property’s new name, Tiger Pointe Country Club, will be a key to success. . . . For a price that’s reportedly “just shy” of $1.3 million, Milton Talkuder has taken possession of Sherwood Golf Club, a 44-year-old facility in Titusville, Florida. Talkuder bought the club’s 100 acres from Andy Ali, a resident of the accompany community who’d purchased Sherwood out of bankruptcy in 2005.

     The city of Pittsburg, California has turned out the lights at Delta View Golf Course, at least for the time being. The reason for the closure isn’t clear (it may have something to do with personal-injury lawsuits that have been filed against the property), and the East Bay Times reports that the city “isn’t quite sure what will become of the golf course.” Delta View’s 18-hole course opened in 1947, and the newspaper says it was designed by Jack Fleming.

     Desolation Row Extended – Willow Springs Golf Course, a venue described as “a landmark” in Haslet, Texas “for nearly 60 years,” may soon bite the dust. Dacus Lindsey told a local television station that his 18-hole course “is no longer profitable,” and he’s negotiating to sell it to a residential developer. . . . The new owners of Walnut Hills Country Club, in East Lansing, Michigan, have put an end to nearly a century’s worth of golf. Summer Park Realty bought Walnut Hills, which opened in the 1920s, out of foreclosure in 2016, hoping to secure a quick approval for a subdivision. Sumner Park hasn’t made much headway on that front, so it’s pulled the plug on the club. . . . The clock is ticking on Olathea Golf Course, a nine-hole layout in Le Claire, Iowa. The family-owned venue has operated since 1984, but KWQC-TV reports that the owner wants to rezone the property, so as to better facilitate a sale to residential developers.

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