Sunday, May 13, 2018

The Week That Was, may 13, 2018

     An emerging mega-city in Saudi Arabia has opened its first golf course, an 18-hole track that’s already been touted as the nation’s number-one venue. (Not that the competition is particularly strong.) The course has been designed by Dave Sampson of European Golf Design, and it’s among the featured attractions at King Abdullah Economic City, which is taking shape on a 67-square-mile expanse of desert – a tract roughly the size of Washington, DC – just south of Rabigh, on the Red Sea coast. The Saudi government expects KAEC to become “one of the most important cities” in the world and set a standard for the kingdom’s future. EGD, a British firm that’s best known for its work with “signature” designers, has promised that the track will “embrace the classic strategic elements of the world’s most enduring golf courses,” offer “risk-and-reward choices and opportunities for creative and varied shot making,” and be “challenging, fair, and enjoyable for golfers of all ability.” If KAEC adheres to its master plan, Sampson’s track will eventually be complemented by at least one more 18-hole track.

     Some information in the preceding post first appeared in the June 2014 issue of the World Edition of the Golf Course Report.

     Pipeline Overflow – Greg Norman has convinced elected officials in Vallejo, California that he can turn their Blue Rock Springs golf complex into “a destination” that will “attract golfers from around the world.” If the revitalization project proceeds, “the Living Brand” will reduce the 36-hole venue to 18 regulation-length holes with a short, youth-focused “Shark Bites” track. . . . Some details have emerged on one of the golf ventures that Chinese developers plan to build in Pakistan as part of the Chinese-Pakistan Economic Corridor. It’s a gated, “timeless” community called China Pak Golf Estates that will occupy more than 150 acres in Gwadar, a port city on the Arabian Sea, and set “a new standard to master community development in Pakistan.” The Chinese entity is an affiliate of China Railway Construction Corporation, a major power in international construction circles, which is said to be collaborating with a British company. . . . Cambria Green, the massive forthcoming golf community on Tasmania’s eastern coast, is targeting not just wealthy Chinese travelers but terminally ill ones. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Cambria Green will be “a nature-based, peaceful environment” that offers palliative care for people who desire “to see something beautiful before they die.”

     Change has come to an ancient New England club that professes to offer “the illusion of changelessness.” Agawam Hunt, a debt-ridden venue that’s operated in suburban Providence, Rhode Island since before the dawn of the 20th century, has been sold to a group of longtime members who believe they’ve forever protected “an oasis in the city.” The sale was completed roughly a year after Agawam Hunt was forced to declare for bankruptcy protection, and it comes largely because the state’s Nature Conservancy was persuaded to pony up $2 million for development rights to roughly two-thirds of the club’s 130 acres. The contribution will likely to fully protect Agawam Hunt’s 18-hole, Donald Ross-designed golf course, but if it doesn’t, the conservancy has an option to purchase development rights to the rest of the property as well. The partners’ primary goal, according to an official of the conservancy, is to have “a viable golf course” that “benefits the environment.” They also hope that their alliance can serve as a model for other struggling clubs that are looking for an economic lifeline.

     Surplus Transactions – Mark Lovell’s Golf Nation LLC has accepted an offer for Stonebridge Golf Club, which made its debut in suburban Memphis, Tennessee in 1972. Grace Construction Company has suggested that it won’t continue golf operations at Stonebridge, which most likely means that the end is near for the club’s 18-hole, George Cobb-designed golf course. . . . Geoffrey Van Epps has agreed to sell Hiawatha Trails Golf Course, acknowledging to a local newspaper that the 60-year-old track is “not economically feasible anymore.” A developer is seeking permission to build apartments and office space on the 18-hole, executive-length track in Guilderland, New York. . . . “It would take a miracle” for Tamaron Golf Course to open this year, its new owner recently told the Toledo Blade. Drewso Ltd. took control of Tamaron earlier this year, and it’s already negotiating to sell nine of the course’s holes to a home builder. The course, which has been around since the mid 1920s, may operate with nine holes in the future, but that’s a best-case scenario.

     Still More Surplus Transactions – For the second time since 2014, the 18-hole, Ed Ault-designed layout in Townsend, Tennessee has a new owner. John Trotter has given Laurel Valley Golf Course a new name, Wild Laurel Golf Course, but the 28-year-old venue has a visibility problem. Specifically, according to a course manager, “a lot of people don’t know it exists” because it’s “off the beaten path.” . . . Dennis Stange, an insurance man in suburban Buffalo, New York, has paid $350,000 for Shawnee Golf Course. The nine-hole track, which was previously known as Shawnee Country Club, opened in 1965 and has been described as “one of Niagara County’s oldest privately owned but public golf courses.” . . . It’s getting to be old news, but last summer Andre Liloc bought the self-described “Best Kept Secret on the Oregon Coast,” an 18-hole venue that has over the years operated as Watson Ranch Golf Course and Coos Country Club. The place is now called Coos Golf Club, but it still features nine holes designed by H. Chandler Egan (they opened in 1923) and nine by Bill Robinson (1998). For what it’s worth, Liloc formerly worked for Amazon and ESPN, according to his LinkedIn profile.

     Duly Noted – The site for Olympic golf in 2020, Japan’s formerly all-male Kasumigaseki Country Club, found three women worthy of membership, as long as they don’t show too much leg. . . . Zach Peed of Dormie Network is following through on his promise to add housing at both Ballyhack and Arbor Links. . . . Golf Advisor has identified what it believes are Greg Norman’s 10 best courses in North America.


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    thanks in advance

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