Sunday, April 8, 2018

The Week That Was, april 8, 2018

     The developers of Tbilisi Hills Golf Club, who in 2016 claimed to be “redefining the good life for affluent Georgians,” are making good on their promise. The first golf course in the capital city of the former Soviet satellite hasn’t officially opened yet, but it’s nonetheless become the 27th link in the chain of ostensible “world-class” golf venues endorsed by the European Tour’s real-estate arm. European Tour Properties has singled out Tbilisi Hills as “a magnificent new venue” and offered praise for its “superb layout,” “enviable panoramas,” and, perhaps more importantly, the “strong plans for its future development.” Credit for the layout goes to Lassi Pekki Tilander, an architect based in Espoo, Finland, while credit for the master plan goes to a group of Spanish and Georgian companies who aim to eventually surround the course with hundreds of high-priced houses, a hotel, and other attractions that will offer an escape from what’s been described as “the tribulations of Tbilisi.” Tilander has reportedly designed 20 courses in five European nations, and Tbilisi Hills, which will celebrate its grand opening this summer, is the second to be selected by European Tour Properties. The first is Estonian Golf & Country Club, in suburban Tallinn, Estonia.

     The businessman who’s said to be “in charge of golf development” in Vietnam is putting the finishing touches on his third golf property. Lê Văn Kiểm, the chairman of Hồ Chí Minh City-based KN Investment Group, created Long Thanh Golf Club, near Hồ Chi Minh City, and Long Vien Golf Club in Vientiane, Laos, and later this year he expects to debut the first 18 holes at KN Golf Links Cam Ranh, on the socialist republic’s South Central Coast. The course, designed by Greg “the Living Brand” Norman, will be the centerpiece of KN Paradise, a 2,000-acre resort community outside Nha Trang that’s been master-planned to include houses, hotels, places to eat and drink, entertainment venues, and, eventually, another nine holes. Kiểm has called the first 18 a “masterpiece,” which, if true, means that it’ll inevitably be compared to Norman’s other courses in Vietnam, Bluffs Ho Tram Strip and Đà Nẵng Golf Club (now BRG Đà Nẵng Golf Resort). Golf Digest ranks those courses as the nation’s #1 and #3 tracks.

     Pipeline Overflow – Elected officials in Fife, Scotland have green-lit Dumbarnie Links, an 18-hole layout to be co-designed by Paul Kimber and Clive Clark. The parties involved have set a high bar for themselves, as they aim to create a course that will be ranked among the world’s top 100. If all goes as planned, design critics will be able to write their reviews in the summer or fall of 2019. . . . A major roadblock to Coul Links has been removed. SEPA, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, has withdrawn its opposition to the proposed Bill Coore-designed course in the Scottish Highlands, acknowledging that its concerns “have been addressed” by the developers. The next step in the entitlement process will come in June, when Highland Council is scheduled to debate the development proposal submitted by Mike Keiser and Todd Warnock. . . . Jeff and Patricia Hoops plan to create the Grand Patrician, a resort that will feature, among other things, houses, a 100-room hotel, a conference center, an amphitheater, a wedding chapel, a medical center, baseball and soccer fields, indoor and outdoor pools, and a nine-hole, par-3 golf course. The resort will be built in Milton, West Virginia, a town of about 2,400 that’s located roughly midway between Charleston and Huntington.

     Turkey is certainly no longer a hot spot for many vacationers, but golfers continue to patronize the nation’s tourist-friendly tracks in Belek. According to statistics cited by Tim Lobb, who’s helped to design at least two courses in the region, the number of rounds played has grown from 15,130 in 1995 to 232,886 in 2005 to 463,045 in 2015.

     With an offer of $645,000, Andy Myers and Philip Kless are expected to become the new owners of a 20-year-old golf venue in Marcellus, New York. Presuming the transaction closed as scheduled, the purchase will be the first ownership venture for Myers and Kless, both PGA professionals who made the offer on Marcellus Golf Club at a foreclosure auction in early January. The duo plans to give the track, originally known as Links at Sunset Ridge, a new name – Sunset Ridge Golf Club – but their biggest challenge will be to shore up its bottom line, as memberships have reportedly fallen by 40 percent in recent years. Myers and Kless are the principals of Kless Myers Golf Management, which leases Lyndon Golf Course in Fayetteville, New York.

     Surplus Transactions – An entity led by Brian Quinn has acquired Plymouth Country Club, one of Pennsylvania’s oldest golf venues. Quinn, the golf coach at Temple University, paid an undisclosed price for Plymouth, which was established in 1912 and features an 18-hole, William Flynn-designed course that dates from the mid 1920s. Plymouth, a member-owned property that’s struggled in recent years, will henceforth operate as the 1912 Club. . . . Wild Quail Golf & Country Club, a 28-year-old venue in Wyoming, Delaware, has been sold, but Larry Hirsh’s Golf Property Analysts, which facilitated the transaction, is keeping a lid on the details. As best I can determine, the sellers were Constantine Malmberg III, Mike Zimmerman and Ron Schafer, the trio who bought the 190-acre property roughly a decade ago. The club says that Ed Ault designed Wild Quail’s “difficult but friendly” 18-hole course, but other sources give credit to one of Ault’s former associates, Bill Love. . . . Asian Pacific Group has reportedly accepted $550,000 for Sunridge Golf Club, a 20-year-old venue that promises to “challenge you while providing a relaxing, picturesque backdrop.” The 18-hole, Bill Wellman-designed track in Carson City, Nevada now belongs to Dan Oster, who aims to make it the centerpiece of what a local newspaper says will be “a community outdoor activity center, with entertainment for all.”

     In what passes for creativity in the golf industry these days, Arcis Golf has given TPC Valencia a new name: The Oaks Club. Arcis calls the moniker a reflection of “the club’s individuality and character,” but to the rest of the world it appears to reflect a lack of imagination.

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