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Feb 11, 2015 | 02:04 PM

Up the Creek

The Great Recession may be over but the shakeout of private clubs continues to reverberate. One of South Carolina’s nicest clubs, The Golf Club at Briar’s Creek near Kiawah south of Charleston, filed for bankruptcy yesterday. The club listed assets of $1.56 million and liabilities of $37 million, though that doesn’t include unsold home sites and the Rees Jones-designed course, which Golf Digest named “Best New Private Course” when it opened in 2002. Briar's may be up the creek, but there's a paddle on the way as a group led by founding member and Houston Texans owner Robert McNair is seeking to buy the assets for $11.3 million. McNair said in a statement that Briar’s Creek “is a business and sometimes in order to be successful, a business must reset.” If the sale is approved, members will get back just a fraction of their six-figure initiation fees but will be offered memberships in the new club.

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Feb 10, 2015 | 08:41 AM

The First Ladies of the R&A

The Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews has revealed its first women members. A notice posted in the R&A clubhouse lists seven ladies who have accepted invitations to become members of the Club. They are Lady Angela Bonallack (UK), Claire Dowling (UK), Diane Dunlop-Hebert (Canada), Patsy Hankins (New Zealand), Martha Lang (USA), Carol Semple Thompson (USA), and Marion Thannhauser (Germany). Four of them—Bonallack, Dowling, Lang and Thompson—are former Curtis Cuppers with glittering amateur records. (Thompson (photo above) won the U.S. Women’s Amateur, Mid-Amateur, and Senior Amateur titles and played on more Curtis Cups than anyone in history.) The three others have distinguished themselves as golf administrators in their respective nations. In addition, the Club has announced the addition of seven Honorary Members, all women: The Princess Royal (Princess Anne), Laura Davies, Renee Powell, Belle Robertson, Lally Segard, Annika Sorenstam, and Louise Suggs. They will join the current 15 Honorary Members which include three members of the British royal family, former president George H.W. Bush, and Sir Michael Bonallack along with professional golfers Peter Allis, Tony Jacklin, John Jacobs, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Peter Thomson, Lee Trevino, Roberto De Vicenzo, and Tom Watson. 

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Feb 09, 2015 | 06:49 AM

Wild For Wickenburg

A new golf course opened this past weekend in Arizona. Actually, Wickenburg Ranch Golf and Social Club, about 65 miles northwest of Phoenix, was ready to play in 2007, but the developer chose to ride out the economic troubles until the time was right. Which is now. A small crew kept the course—designed by Wendell Pickett, a landscape designer, and Bill Brownlee, the developer—in shape over the last eight years, when only family and friends got to play it. The course features canyons, arroyos, and views of nearby Prescott National Forest, and because Wickenburg sits at a higher elevation than Phoenix (meaning more mild summers), the greens are bentgrass, which will be a pleasant surprise for locals. As will the greens fees of this private club that will welcome daily-fee guests for its first few seasons: Arizona residents will pay $85 a round, out-of-staters $95, and for the foreseeable future each guest will receive a custom polo shirt and pullover from apparel company Travis Mathew, valued at nearly $170. The club is the centerpiece of a master-planned resort community called Trilogy at Wickenburg Ranch. For more details, check out the website.

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Feb 06, 2015 | 11:04 AM

Water Watch

We’ve heard a lot the last few years about water problems—drought, waste, pollution—in the U.S. But other places are having water issues, as well. In Scotland, two of the country’s most recognizable industries, golf and whisky, have run afoul of the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) for using more water than they were allotted. “SEPA has criticized more than 200 operators for failing to say how much water they used,” reported the Herald of Scotland. “They include more farmers, golf courses and distilleries as well as… the US property tycoon Donald Trump.” Eight distilleries and three golf courses were among 39 sites rated as “poor” by SEPA in 2013, which assesses environmental performance in, among other things, cleaning water sites, protecting wildlife, and limiting pollution. The three courses were Carnoustie (shown above), Moray Golf Club, and Roxburghe Golf Course. “The performance of a further 12 courses—including Trump’s…in Aberdeenshire and some in St. Andrews—were said by SEPA to be unsatisfactory because they failed to provide information on their water usage.”

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