May 09, 2016
The Big 4-0
(KIAWAH ISLAND, SC) Hard to believe that until 40 years ago hardly anyone, save the lucky few that owned it, had ever visited the 10,000-acre island now known around the world. When Kuwaiti Investment Company purchased the island in 1974 for $18.2 million they had a bold plan to develop a golf and tennis resort along with luxury homes. (Rumors abounded at the time that they were going to build an oil refinery on the island.) But after a very contentious start, the group eventually opened that the 150-room Kiawah Island Inn on May 2, 1976. Hurricane Hugo, bankruptcies, and a handful of ownership changes later, Kiawah is nothing but a world-class destination today that has hosted some of golf most memorable moments. What’s next for the island? The Post and Courier reports, “A third big-ticket investment for Kiawah is in the offing. It would be built on the grounds of the original inn, which was leveled in 2010.” Look for details to be announced in the next year or so.
May 06, 2016
Out of Bounds
(WINDERMERE, FL) Homeowners say the proposed re-development of Windermere Country Club is out of bounds. Unfortunately, it’s part of a growing trend in Florida where large parcels of land are getter hard to come by. The Orlando Sentinel reports that developers won approval for 1,200 houses, apartments and townhomes on the former Marriott Grand Pines golf course in Orange County, while Seminole County approved a plan for 286 luxury apartments on part of the former Sabal Point course. Homeowners are facing that dire prospect at Windermere Country Club, too. The developer who paid $2.1 million for the course five years ago wants to turn the 155-acre links into 95 single-family homes. Neighbors, fearing devalued properties and increased traffic, are opposed. Last month, the course was closed, the club’s swimming pool filled in with dirt, and a wire fence installed around the perimeter of the course. But since the county owns development rights to the course, the whole matter is still up in the air.
May 04, 2016
Saving Private Course
(LAND O'LAKES, FL) Plantation Palms Homeowners Association members put their money where their mouths are to bring their golf course back. The 156-acre Plantation Palms Golf Club and 11,000-square-foot clubhouse opened in 2001, shut down temporarily in 2013 amid financial troubles, and closed for good in 2014, leaving an empty field filled with weeds as a neighborhood eyesore, reports the Tampa Bay Times. Ace Golf, owner of three area golf courses, has stepped in to buy the neglected course. But in order to make the numbers works homeowners had to agree to a surcharge on their memberships for the next few years. About 70% of homeowners agreed. “That was big. It said we want our golf course back, and we're prepared to become good customers…immediately,” said board member Jim Hammond. Repairs to the course are expected to cost a minimum of $1.5 million.
May 02, 2016
(BRAINERD, MN) The power of storms was evident over the weekend at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. But nothing like what happened last July at Madden’s on Gull Lake in Minnesota. A series of microbursts pummeled the 63-hole resort, damaging 20 buildings and downing 200 trees. Guests had to be evacuated, but, thankfully, there were no serious injuries. Ten months and $13 million later, the popular resort has reopened. The Duluth News Tribune reports “It wasn't the first time destruction had beset Madden's, which steadily grew from humble beginnings by expanding and buying neighboring resorts and lands. In 1964, a fire destroyed the golf complex at the resort's Pine Beach Golf Course. The disaster gave the Maddens cause to rebuild, resulting in a superior facility. Jim Madden would later recall: ‘It may have been the best thing that has happened to us.’” The silver lining this time around? 85 new guest rooms and updated amenities.
Apr 29, 2016
(RIVERSIDE, CA) While golfers may have died a thousand figurative deaths over the years at General Old Golf Course, we can probably safely assume the golf course was the final resting place for any of them. Until now. Part of the military land around March Air Reserve Base, the course had been slated to be reconfigured as part of a new housing development of 670 homes. But the course would remain. Then plans changed and the course was nixed as being too expensive. Instead, 1,660 homes would be built on the land. As if that was indignity enough, the plan was changed once again. Under the new proposal, the golf course closes and the homes disappear. In their place, the entire parcel would be used to expand Riverside National Cemetery. Obviously not a fan of the golf course, one local business leader called the cemetery expansion “the perfect use for that land.” Looks like the course’s obituary has already been written.