Jan 05, 2015
Five to Watch

NEW YORK) All in all, 2014 was a positive year for the housing market. Mortgage rates stayed low, foreclosures dialed back, and plenty of private golf communities got back on track. But there are still hurdles to overcome and this week CNN Money published five things real estate pros feel could put a damper on the party this year. Those include big investors cashing out, a drop in foreign real estate investment (especially, and understandably, the Russians), incomes not keeping pace with real estate prices, skittish lenders, and…gulp…a sharp increase in mortgage rates. That could happen if the Federal Reserve surprises everyone and send its benchmark rate higher than it's projecting. "The Fed is uncharted territory," said Doug Duncan, chief economist for Fannie Mae. "If it pushes rates up, it could have a big impact on the market." Might be time to go ahead and close on that dream golf course home you’ve been thinking about. Or get ready to make larger monthly payments than you were planning on.

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Jan 02, 2015
New Year, New Owners

(MOHAVE VALLEY, AZ) What do you do when your community’s developer is indicted by a grand jury and your entire board of directors is arrested by the IRS? The residents of El Rio Country Club didn’t wait to find out. They formed a new homeowner’s association, purchased controlling interest in the community’s Matt Dye-designed golf course, and went to work ensuring that the club was sustainable. They brought back the director of golf, hired someone to run the club’s restaurant, and even got their waterfall back up and running. And they did it all in 90 days. “None of us ever wanted to own or run a golf course — it’s not like our dream came true or anything — and though it started out of necessity, every day, every breath we take is focused on this now, and we think people are going to love it,” Karen Dick, El Rio Country Club sales and marketing director, told The Daily News. They plan to reopen the course on January 17. A great story of renewal to begin the New Year for everyone (except for the developer and board of directors)!

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Dec 31, 2014
The Club Re-Imagined

(BOCA RATON, FL)  The lucky members of the Polo Club of Boca Raton will no longer need to imagine a freshly renovated club. $27 million and a scant eight months after beginning a redesign of the Club, they celebrated the transformation before Christmas. All socializing and gathering areas, five dining establishments and the Spa and Fitness Center, as well as the Golf Pro Shoppe and Resort and Tennis Shoppe, were redesigned and reconstructed to create a more open-air, fresher and modern aesthetic. Renovations also included a new grand staircase, new foyers, entranceways, staff offices and reception areas. Shimmering chandeliers, brightened tones and energetic combinations of texture and light have replaced the traditional and historic feel of dark woods and deep colors. “One thing that was important to impart was a fresher, younger look,” said Brett Morris, Polo Club’s General Manager and Chief Operating Officer. “The people that we are trying to attract are 55-65, younger retirees, who want a complete lifestyle in Florida within a community that basically has it all. With Polo’s dining destinations, lectures series, recreational amenities and world-class Spa and Fitness Center, it’s been said that living here is like being on a cruise ship on land.”

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Dec 29, 2014
Asian Infusion

(MYRTLE BEACH) Golf is a global market and nowhere is that more apparent than in the Myrtle Beach golf market where investors from China now own 13 of the region’s approximately 100 golf courses. Shortly before Christmas, the Founders Group (an extension of Chinese company Yiqian Funding) wrapped up the purchase of Colonial Charters Golf Club. That gives the group nine golf courses on the Grand Strand, five of them bought in December. A frenetic pace, yes, but the investors have kept all the courses in operation. Will we see even more of Myrtle Beach bought up? “I know they are still looking for other opportunities,” Founders Group general manager Rick Taylor told MyrtleBeachOnline. But despite the infusion of cash into the region, the Chinese investors say they are feeling some pushback from locals. “Sometimes we feel we are not being treated as normal, like locals,” said Nick Dou, who represents the Founders Group. “If we feel good, we feel we’re treated fairly, we will move forward.”

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Dec 26, 2014
Cuba Libre

(CUBA) If you think the market for building golf courses in the U.S. has been sluggish, consider this: Only one 18-hole golf course has been in built in Cuba since Fidel Castro’s 1959 revolution. According to Bloomberg News, the course was started in 1990 and took eight years to complete. The Varadero Golf Club, designed by Les Furber at a cost of just $4 million, battled the country’s credit problems, shortages of tires, batteries and fuel, and Cuba’s bureaucracy on the way to completion. “They don’t work very efficient and they got old equipment,” Furber is quoted as saying. “It was fun, but frustrating sometimes,” he said, and “not lucrative in any sense.” Before the revolution, Cuba was home to some beautiful courses, including a couple of Donald Ross layouts. In Castro’s early years, photos were published of the dictator awkwardly swinging a golf club in full battle fatigues. But those courses disappeared under the regime’s changing priorities. Perhaps, golf will make a comeback. A 400-acre luxury resort, including a new golf course, has been in the planning stages by a U.K. company for five years, but construction is yet to begin.

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