Feb 20, 2015
Lifestyle Upgrade

(PALM CITY, FL) There’s a reason the best private communities stay at the top of their game: they continue to improve. Harbour Ridge Yacht & Country Club, which brings together boating and golf in a magnificent way for its members, would seem to have it all. But this week its membership approved a 3-year, $11 million amenity enhancement program to build a new lifestyle center and renovate its famed Golden Marsh golf course. (And doing it by the way without levying a membership assessment or incurring new long-term debt.) The new lifestyle complex, designed by Peacock + Lewis of North Palm Beach, will include fitness and workout areas, Pilates and personal training spaces, physical therapy capability, a full-service spa, salon and wellness center, a tennis and retail shop, as well as food and beverage. Outside will be an enlarged pool for both lap swimming and water aerobics, a children’s play area and nine tennis courts. Construction of the new lifestyle center is expected to begin in November 2015, with completion targeted for December 2016. That will be followed by the renovation of Golden Marsh, expected to begin in Spring 2017 and finish by year’s end.

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Feb 18, 2015
Major Facelift

(SANFORD, NC) You can never have enough of a good thing. Members at Carolina Trace Country Club in North Carolina’s famed Sandhills region can count their blessings that they have two course designed by Robert Trent Jones, Sr. That will allow them to continue enjoying the Creek Course while the Lake Course undergoes major renovations starting March 1. The complete overhaul will include new leveled, squared tee complexes with additional sets of tees, completely rebuilt bunkers (new ones will be added, some existing will be relocated and others will be eliminated), re-contoured fairways, and removal of trees that have encroached onto the course over the past 40 years. Escalante Golf, which purchased the club last year, expects to wrap the renovations up by this fall. They will also overhaul the clubhouse, including completely redoing the men’s and women’s locker facilities.

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Feb 16, 2015
Justice Done

(WINTERGREEN, VA) Though the Wintergreen Resort holds sentimental value for billionaire James C. Justice II (it was one of the last places he golfed with his dad), selling it has been part of the plan all along. His company bought the then financially troubled Wintergreen for about $16.5 million three years ago and invested nearly as much making improvements to the property. The demands of The Greenbrier Resort and his other business dealings kept Justice from ever visiting Wintergreen after the purchase. According to The Daily Progress, EPR Properties, a real estate investment trust based out of Kansas City, Missouri, has purchased the property and will lease to the rights to manage the resort to Pacific Group Resorts. Terms of the deal were not disclosed except that Justice will retain ownership, a 400-acre site adjacent to the resort’s ski operations that he may develop into resort lodging and residential property.

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Feb 13, 2015
Lofty Praise

(LOS CABOS, MEXICO) Sure, it’s impressive that Quivira, the exclusive 1,850- acre development at the tip of Baja California Sur in Los Cabos, has been cited as the “2014 Development of the Year” by the golf industry publication, Golf Inc. But what may be even more impressive is that the oceanfront, $40-million Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course didn’t even debut until December of last year. Then take into account that Golf Inc. changed its evaluation process to make economic and environmental sustainability account for 20% of the judging criteria. (Project vision accounted for 40%, course routing 15% percent, and aesthetics 25%.) That’s high praise for a community and course that has just burst onto the scene. The publication's judges noted that Quivira is “an audacious project with lofty goals that seems to have been beautifully realized.” Take a peek at its three-plus miles of golden beaches, picturesque desert cliffs and panoramic ocean views, and you’d likely come to the same conclusion.

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Feb 11, 2015
Thorny Patch

(JOHNS ISLAND, SC) We’re not quite out of the woods yet. Though the reports have been mostly positive, the private club and community market is still taking hits sustained during the real estate recession. A case in point is yesterday’s bankruptcy filing by The Golf Club at Briar’s Creek, as reported in The Post and Courier. The club was named “Best New Private Course” by Golf Digest when it opened in 2002. With initiation dues of $100,000 and a heralded Rees Jones-designed course, Briar’s Creek was considered one of golf-rich South Carolina’s most exclusive private clubs. Its founding membership includes Houston Texans owner Robert McNair, who is now spearheading an effort to buy the golf club for $11.3 million. In its bankruptcy filing, Briar Creek listed $31 million in unsecured debt, with about $26 million of that owed in refundable initiation fees and loans from club founders and members. Under the proposed terms of sale, those creditors will only retrieve a fraction of what they are owed.

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