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Sunday, January 21, 2018

The Week That Was, january 21, 2018

     Attention, traveling golfers: South Africa, Turkey, and Thailand are among the world’s emerging golf destinations, according to the most dedicated golfers from four of Europe’s top golf nations. The news comes via Sports Marketing Surveys, which recently polled 9,500 “core” golfers from France, Germany, Sweden, and the United Kingdom on their spending habits. When it comes to vacations in established golf destinations, the respondents identified Spain as their nation of choice, with Austria and Portugal getting nods as well.

     It took a while, but Pacific Links International has unloaded its last remaining golf property in greater Las Vegas, Nevada. For an undisclosed price, a group of 10 members has purchased SouthShore Golf Club, a 22-year-old venue with a Jack Nicklaus “signature” layout that “ignites a golfer’s passion and provides a peaceful escape.” The course, part of the reinvigorated Lake Las Vegas lifestyle community, is now operating as SouthShore Country Club LLV. PLI, a Chinese/Canadian company that operates an international network of limited-access membership golf clubs, formerly owned close to a dozen U.S. golf properties, but it’s been engaged in asset sales for several years. It sold its other Vegas-area holdings, DragonRidge Country Club and Southern Highlands Golf Club, in 2016.

     Surplus Transactions – In mid December 2017, ClubCorp and Cooper Communities sold Diamante Country Club, a venue that features one of Arkansas’ top-rated golf courses. Diamante is the only private club in Hot Springs Village, a seniors-only community with a total of nine courses, many of them named after famous explorers (DeSoto, Magellan, Ponce de Leon). The buyer, a corporation created by property owners, paid an undisclosed price for the club and its 18-hole, Ault Clark-designed course. . . . Southworth Development has bought out its partners and assumed full control of Abaco Club, a private, 534-acre oceanfront community in the Bahamas that features what’s said to be “the world's first Scottish-style links in a tropical location.” The 18-hole track, co-designed by Donald Steel and Tom MacKenzie, opened in 2004. Southworth has been a co-owner of Abaco since 2014, and it owns a handful of other golf properties in Puerto Rico, Scotland, and the United States. . . . A 54-year-old venue in Decatur, Alabama has changed hands. Late last year, Andy and Belinda Villarreal paid an undisclosed price for Burningtree Country Club, which features an 18-hole, George Cobb-designed golf course. The seller was Tom Flowe, who’d owned the property since 2004.

     The Very Stable Genius has suspended some U.S. aid payments to Pakistan, but his threats haven’t put an end to the nation’s golf-development dreams. Just weeks ago, Chinese-funded coastal resorts with golf courses were announced. Now it appears that a project that’s been percolating for at least two years, Eighteen Islamabad, has been revived. The 540-acre, American-style community outside Islamabad will include 1,100 villas, 900 apartments, a boutique hotel, a shopping mall, and other attractions, including a “championship” golf course designed by Bob Hunt. The goal is to offer amenities that are “second to none” and “delivered in a safe, secure, and exclusive location." Eighteen Islamabad is being co-developed by Naguib Sawiris, a member of the family whose Orascom Group built two wildly popular golf resorts on the Red Sea in Egypt. Sawiris believes he’s going to “revolutionize” Pakistan’s real-estate industry by creating “a new lifestyle destination in a world-class capital city,” and it’s worth noting that he’s working off a master plan created by U.S. companies.

     Pipeline Overflow – Valery Garipov. a Russian investor, has secured permission to build a “tourist complex,” including a golf course, in an abandoned village in Croatia. The complex, in Sikuli, will also feature some houses and apartments, two hotels, and a water park. Garipov hopes to break ground on it next year. . . . Iceland, which has more golf courses per capita than any other nation on earth, may soon get another. According to a news report, an Icelandic couple wants to build “a standard golf course,” some hotels, and other attractions in Sk√°labrekka, a town roughly 30 miles northeast of Reykjavik. Local officials are said to be evaluating the proposal. . . . Lee Schmidt’s golf course outside the last royal capital in Myanmar is scheduled to open in the spring. Myotha National Golf Club, a co-design with a former executive director of the Asian Tour, will be among the attractions at the Mandalay-Myotha Industrial Park, and it’s expected to contend for regional professional events. Schmidt, a principal of Schmidt-Curley Design, once predicted that the 18-hole track would offer “a stern test for today’s best players.”

     One of America’s toughest plays may soon bite the dust. Despite the usual complaints from neighbors, Stan Burton seems intent on building a subdivision on his Wolf Run Golf Club, a high-profile spread in suburban Indianapolis, Indiana. Wolf Run was established in 1989 by an amateur golfer, Jack Leer, who enlisted Steve Smyers to design what’s been described as “a demanding, world-class golf club for serious golfers.” Leer got what he wanted, but in retrospect the course’s challenge was its fatal flaw. “You have to be pretty good to enjoy that course,” the director of the state’s PGA section told the Indianapolis Business Journal. “That course is simply too hard for a segment of the golf population.” Burton, who bought Wolf Run in 2003, is the property’s third owner. He’s reportedly been trying to find a buyer for several years, without luck.

     Desolation Row Extended – Citing an analysis of “sales reports, expense reports, and market trends,” late last year Sierra Golf Management pulled the plug on a venue that opened in the early 1970s as Forest Meadows Golf Course. A couple of years ago the 18-hole layout, the centerpiece of an artsy community located outside Yosemite National Park in northern California, had been reduced to nine holes and given a new name, Murphys 9. The original course had been designed by Robert Trent Jones and his first-born son. . . . Pulte Homes has agreed to buy Cypress Creek Country Club, a venue in Boynton Beach, Florida that’s reportedly been “struggling to make money.” Cypress Creek, which features an 18-hole, Robert von Hagge-designed golf course, opened in the mid 1960s. It may continue to operate in 2018, but the prospective owner wants to begin building houses on the 116-acre property by 2019. . . . Sometime this month, the city of Milton, in suburban Atlanta, Georgia, is expected to acquire Milton Country Club, a 25-year-old venue that features an 18-hole, Willard Byrd-designed golf course. The price: $5 million. The city expects to convert the club’s roughly 140 acres into parkland.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

The Week That Was, january 14, 2018

     Giles Morgan is still complaining about golf’s failure to keep up with changing times. In a post at Rive Gauche, his online newsletter, the former head of sponsorship for HSBC – he orchestrated the bank’s support of the Open Championship and other high-profile golf events – once again warns that the sport “is losing relevance with new audiences and looking increasingly out of touch with what society wants and expects.” Before it’s too late, he argues, our business must find its “epiphany moment,” or else it risks the possibility of “extinction.” Golf’s institutional leaders haven’t commented on the post, but one suspects that they have a cheerier assessment.

     While the Very Stable Genius was giving himself a nice, fat, juicy tax break, the Scottish government was taking away one he’s enjoyed for years. Trump Turnberry, the premier property in the Trump Organization’s portfolio, has lost roughly £110,000 ($151,000) in annual financial relief that it previously earned because it had been declared to be, in the words of Newsweek, one of the nation’s “struggling businesses.“ It’s worth noting that the U.S. President has few friends in Scotland (or, for that matter, anywhere else in the British Isles), mostly because of issues related to his golf resort in Aberdeenshire. The organization has broken many promises about what would eventually emerge at Trump International Golf Links Scotland, and it’s long been engaged in an ugly legal battle against a proposed off-shore wind farm that could be seen from the property. And, in an irony that’s hard to miss, the organization gripes incessantly about one alternative energy installation near its property but endorses the construction of who knows how many oil rigs along U.S. coastlines. Sad!

     If you believe the Very Stable Genius, Nigeria is a “shithole" country where everybody lives in huts. Nonetheless, a Chinese company recently staged a ceremonial groundbreaking on Virgin City, a large-scale spread outside Calabar, the capital of Cross River State. Mark Sino Construction Company has master-planned Virgin City to include all the suburban amenities you’d expect, including hotels, schools, a “water world fairground,” manufacturing facilities, a hospital, and a golf course. Our clueless president may not believe that anybody plays golf in Nigeria, but it’s time for him to wake up. The nation has 50 golf courses, according to Golf Digest, that serve as a leisure-time distraction for the people who are hard at work creating one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. According to Knight Frank’s most recent wealth report, in 2016 its capital city, Lagos, was home to 6,800 millionaires, 360 multi-millionaires (people worth $10 or more), and 110 ultrahigh-worth individuals (people worth $30 million or more). And if predictions come true, by the end of the 21st century it’ll be the world’s third most-populous nation, behind India and China. And here’s what should be really troubling to the White House: To build Virgin City, Mark Sino is doing the same thing that another big Chinese company did at Baha Mar, in the Bahamas, which is bring in thousands of countrymen-laborers who’ll eventually take most of their earnings home with them. China is laying economic claims (and with them, political influence) all over Africa while the United States sits on the sidelines, mistakenly believing it can win the future without playing in the game.

   At the groundbreaking for Virgin City, the mayor of Calabar delivered a discouraging message for America Firsters. He recalled a trip he’d made to Jilin Province, the home of Mark Sino, calling it “a fantastic place” that’s “far more civilized than America.” The Very Stable Genius may not wish to admit it, but Nigerians are laughing at us.

     Regarding the forthcoming 18-hole golf course at Cabot Links: The location of the hoped-for track has upset some residents of Inverness, Nova Scotia. Mike Keiser, Ben Cowan-Dewar, and the other investors who’ve already opened two destination-worthy layouts at their Canadian resort are angling to build their next regulation-length course on some supposedly protected provincial parkland. The developers are viewed by local elected officials as extremely good neighbors – heck, they’ve injected some substantial life into an economically moribund area – so there’s a better than even chance that their wish will come true. But it may happen later rather than sooner.

     A trio of investors, among them starchitect Tom Fazio, have purchased Forest Creek Golf Club, a fading venue in Pinehurst, North Carolina that just so happens to feature a pair of well-regarded, Fazio-designed golf courses. Fazio believes that Forest Creek’s 18-hole tracks offer “one of the truly elite golfing experiences in this country” and are “at the top of my accomplishments as a golf course architect.” Bobby McCann and his partners reportedly paid $9.6 million for Forest Creek, the centerpiece of a 1,265-acre spread that was originally developed by an entity affiliated with Barton Tuck’s GolfSouth. McCann’s group bought the club (as well as more than 100 residential lots in the community) from 189 members who reportedly shelled out $15 million for the property in 2013. The members thought they’d found a buyer roughly a year ago, when a California-based group raised hopes of “re-establishing Forest Creek as a premier golf course destination community.” Luckily for them, the new owners have made the same promise.

     Speaking of Barton Tuck and Tom Fazio, one of their top-rated courses in North Carolina was shuttered in the waning days of 2017. Bright’s Creek Golf Club, a bankrupt, 18-year-old venue outside Hendersonville, was developed by GolfSouth, and its featured attraction is a Fazio-designed, 18-hole track that Golf Digest views as the #18 course in the state. The club, part of a 4,600-acre community, failed to sell at a bankruptcy auction some months ago, and its receiver recently reported that lawsuits have prevented him from “receiving the necessary funding to continue club operations.”

     Desolation Row Extended – Despite a recent re-do by Tom Doak, one of our nation’s highest-profile nine-hole golf courses has bitten the dust. Aetna Springs Golf Course, in Pope Valley, California, ended its 125-year run a few days ago, as it failed to generate a following. It’s hard to believe, but the course attracted only 4,800 rounds last year. Here’s another fact that’s hard to believe: Aetna Springs appears to be the seventh Doak-designed course to go dark. Its owners are said to be negotiating a sale to a buyer who reportedly thinks the site is a good location for houses. . . . Barely two years after a promised “repositioning and revitalization,” the owners of the Meadows, in Sarasota, Florida, are thinking about pulling the plug on half of their 54-hole complex. Citing comments by the Meadows’ community association, WWSB-TV reports that “dwindling memberships has caused some financial difficulties for the country club,” which features two Frank Duane-designed tracks and one by Arthur Hills. No word on which holes are on the chopping block. . . . The lights have been turned out at Naples Golf & Country Club, which had operated in greater Portland, Maine for nearly a century. The club’s shareholders are looking to sell their property, which features an 18-hole course that opened in two phases, in 1921 and in 2000.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

The Week That Was, january 7, 2018

     Arnold Palmer’s heirs have figured out a way to capitalize on the impeccable brand they now control. A division of the King’s empire and a small Bahamian investment group aim to establish the Arnold Palmer Collection, a group of 20 “one-of-a-kind boutique resorts” to be located in “very special locations worldwide.” The resorts will feature golf courses, all of them part of “very unique and authentic clubs,” but the playing experiences that Palmer’s design wing intends to deliver appears to be an afterthought. Instead, Arnold Palmer Properties and SilkPort Capital Management promise “extraordinary experiences for a highly sought-after demographic” and “a compelling value proposition for investors and, ultimately, buyers.” Translation: The real estate is more important than the golf. Two of the first three resorts will take shape alongside courses that Palmer agreed to design before he died, at Castle Stuart in Scotland and at Club & Lodge at Ironwood on Grand Cayman Island. The third, with a 12-hole course, will emerge near the campus of Palmer’s alma mater, Wake Forest University in North Carolina. In a marketing pitch for this “remarkable, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” the partners tell potential investors that the collection is “destined to be one of the most successful boutique golf resort collections in history.” Just wondering: If the resorts fall short of the developers’ promise, do investors get their money back?

     The Trump Organization’s fast-eroding coastal golf resort in Doonbeg, Ireland continues to bleed red on its bottom line. In 2016, according to financial documents filed with the Irish government, Trump International Golf Links Ireland lost $2.3 million, an amount that’s concerning but actually an improvement over the losses posted by the property in 2014 and 2015. The resort’s general manager reportedly believes that another loss is likely in 2017, but the final financial figures won’t be known until late 2018.

     Regarding the erosion at Golf International Golf Links Ireland: Over the holidays, the Trump Organization secured permission to build a pair of sea walls to fend off the waves that constantly, relentlessly batterer its coastal property. One barrier will stretch for nearly 700 yards, the other for nearly 300, and local opponents of the plan have until mid-January to appeal the decision. And in yet another example of the hypocrisy that pervades all things Trump, the Organization reportedly cited “rising seas” caused by “global warming” as threats to the resort’s existence.

     Dick Nugent, who proudly designed golf courses for a fellow he called “Joe Six-Pack,” died on the first day of the new year. Nugent operated out of an office in Chicagoland and worked mostly in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin, so he’s sometimes viewed dismissively as “a regional architect.” The term does him a great disservice, because he was versatile enough to create, either on his own or with collaborators such as Ken Killian, a course that hosted a PGA Championship (Kemper Lakes Golf Club), a longtime PGA Tour venue (Tuckaway Country Club), one of the Windy City’s most popular public complexes (Harborside International Golf Center), and, with Mike Keiser, one of the world’s few destination-worthy nine-hole layouts (Dunes Club). All in all, Nugent had a hand in designing, redesigning, or renovating dozens of affordably priced courses in Arizona, Hawaii, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, and several other states. But no matter where he was working, according to a recollection by Jeff Brauer, he held firm to the belief that “we probably do more for golf by designing a good green for some rural course than building a big-budget course for high-dollar players.” Nugent apprenticed with Robert Bruce Harris and served as a mentor to Brauer, Bob Lohmann, Jim Engh, Bruce Borland, and Jim Blaukovitch, and he helped to train his son, Tim, to become a golf architect as well. Tim now runs the family business. His father had moved to Arizona several years ago, and he died there at the age of 86.

     Dick Nugent wasn’t the only golf designer who died on New Year’s Day. Jeff Hardin, who’s been described as both “an old-school cowboy” – he was known for the cowboy boots he habitually wore – and “a true pioneer in golf design,” passed away in Arizona at the age of 84. Hardin was a civil engineer and a road builder before he became the in-house course architect for Del Webb Company, and he’s probably best known for the courses he created, often with Greg Nash, at the company’s retirement communities in suburban Phoenix. Hardin eventually hung out his own shingle, designing affordable courses on his own in Nevada (Los Prados Golf Course), Utah (Sky Mountain Golf Course), and other western states, and he continued to collaborate not only with Nash but also with “the Desert Fox,” Red Lawrence (Dobson Ranch Golf Course in Arizona). Hardin spent his final years in Wickenburg, Arizona, content that he’d created a parade of playable courses that could be enjoyed by golfers of all abilities.

     To his dismay, Peter Nanula has been rebuffed. The Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal reports that a group of Golden Valley Country Club’s members have offered to loan the club “a collective figure worth potentially more than $1 million” to prevent a sale to Nanula’s deep-pocketed investment group, Concert Golf Partners. Curiously, the members’ offer – it’s a loan, let’s not forget, and not a gift – pales in comparison to the $9.5 million that Concert was willing to pay for Golden Valley, an ancient venue that was already $7 million in debt, in need of substantive capital improvements, and at a competitive disadvantage in its market due to the negative publicity it’s received about its precarious financial condition. “We cannot help clubs who do not want to be helped,” Nanula glumly acknowledged to the Journal. So Golden Valley will for now remain owned by its members, at least some of whom believe a better offer might eventually come around. As things currently stand, though, it’s hard to see how Golden Valley digs itself out of the hole it’s in. A year from now, it’s entirely possible that Concert will be able to strike a better deal for itself.

     In a reflection of continuing tough times for golf development, a veritable who’s who of U.S. architects are vying to design a municipal golf course in Boca Raton, Florida. The 15-member group is led by firms that wouldn’t have been caught dead bidding on a municipal job back when “signature” golf was all the rage – among them, firms led by Jack Nicklaus, Greg Norman, Rees Jones, Robert Trent Jones, and Nick Price – but it also includes designers with decades of experience (Arthur Hills, Tom Lehman, Mark McCumber) as well as, naturally, a few that the average golfer doesn’t know from Adam. They’re all hoping to win a contract for Boca National Golf Club, a supposedly “world-class,” 27-hole complex that will take shape on the site of the old Ocean Breeze Golf Club. If all goes as planned, the lucky winner will be named later this month.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

The Week That Was, december 17, 2017

     The founder of a well-known U.S. travel agency now owns a premier golf property in suburban Dublin, Ireland. John Mullen, acting through his recently created Belmullet Hospitality Group, has reportedly paid “about €57 million” (nearly $70 million) for Carton House Hotel, Spa & Golf Resort, a 668-acre spread in County Kildare that’s said to be “one of Ireland’s most popular and historically significant resorts.” Queen Victoria paid a visit to Carton House in the 1840s, and the estate served as a setting for Barry Lyndon, a Stanley Kubrick film from the 1970s. The resort features a 165-room hotel, several places to eat and drink, a spa, and two 18-hole golf courses, one of which (a Colin Montgomerie “signature” layout) has hosted the Irish Open three times. Mullen, who has familial ties to Ireland, made his reputation as a tour operator via Apple Leisure Group, a company that’s now owned by KKR and an affiliate of KSL Capital Partners. He bought Carton House from the family of Lee Mallaghan and other investors, who were financially over-extended and controlled by the Irish government’s National Asset Management Agency.

     Surplus Transactions – In what’s said to be “a perfect marriage,” some restaurateurs have agreed to buy Linwood Country Club, a venue that a local newspaper believes has been “one of the finest private country clubs in South Jersey for 97 years.” Frank and Joe Dougherty paid an undisclosed price for Linwood, which features an 18-hole, Herbert Strong-designed course. The sale is expected to close before the end of the year. . . . It’s all over but the shouting for Wiltwyck Golf Club, a venue in Kingston, New York that’s operated since the mid 1950s. As part of a last-minute rescue, a group of 11 investors, all but one of them club members, have pooled their money – probably about $2.5 million – to buy the financially challenged club and its 18-hole, Robert Trent Jones-designed golf course. The Daily Freeman reports that the transaction is expected to close “in the next several weeks,” pending approval by the club’s members. . . . Regarding the expected sale of Golden Valley Country Club to Concert Golf Partners: There’s a glitch. The Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal reports that negotiations between the parties have “temporarily stopped” because “some members want to explore a way to keep the club member owned.” If the transaction gets back on track, Concert will retire Golden Valley’s $7 million in debt and invest $2.5 million in the 103-year-old property.

     The words golf and Pakistan don’t often appear in the same sentence, but that hasn’t prevented the nation’s biggest development group from building a golf community outside Karachi. The community is called Bahria Golf City, and it’ll feature two “PGA-standard” 18-hole golf courses that will, according to its marketing materials, “get your tense nerves addicted to relaxation.” The courses have been designed by Thomas J. Brown, an architect unknown to me, and they’ll be lit for night play. The complex’s initial nine is already open, and the next 27 are scheduled to debut next year. Bahria Golf City reportedly drew its inspiration from the Emirates Hills community in Dubai, and its developer, Bahria Town Karachi, promises that it’ll serve as Karachi’s “ultimate living experience” and take golf “to a next level in Pakistan.”

     The city of Boca Raton, Florida has begun negotiating the sale of Boca Raton Municipal Golf Course. The 27-hole complex is a dead man walking, as GL Homes is willing to pay $65 million for its 189 acres, a tract it views as an ideal site for a 480-house subdivision. Assuming that the parties can quickly cross the necessary ts and dot the required is, the curtains will be drawn on the 35-year-old complex in mid 2019. GL is making a habit of building on money-losing golf courses, as it’s also targeted Polo Trace Golf & Country Club in Delray Beach and Fountains Country Club in Lake Worth. All isn’t completely lost for Boca Raton’s bargain-seeking golfers, however, as the city aims to buy and revive the defunct Ocean Breeze Golf Course, a venue it intends to operate as Boca National Golf Club.

     Desolation Row Extended – The 178 acres currently occupied by the struggling Victoria Golf Course, an 18-hole municipal track in Carson, California, will soon be outfitted with soccer pitches, tennis courts, and other attractions that appeal to a larger audience. The Daily Breeze says that 51-year-old, William F. Bell-designed course is “vastly under-performing” the other golf properties owned by Los Angeles County, so Victoria will get the ax as soon as an alternative plan is in place. . . . For the second time in three years, Duckers Lake Golf Club faces a foreclosure sale. Whitaker Bank has turned out the lights at the 23-year-old club, in Frankfort, Kentucky, but hasn’t yet taken the 129-acre property off the market. Although the asking price is said to be $2 million, the bank appears to be the proverbial “highly motivated” seller. . . . The Plantation Inn, in Crystal City, Florida, has decided that its 27-hole, Mark Mahannah-designed golf complex is a wretched excess, so it’s seeking permission to turn its nine-hole Lagoons layout into an RV park.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Week That Was, december 10, 2017

     Some abalone farmers have won provisional approval for a destination-worthy golf complex that will occupy a stretch of oceanfront property outside Robe, South Australia. Damian and Justin Scanlon aim to build a pair of 18-hole, Bob Harrison-designed courses at their 600-acre Nora Creina Golf Resort, along with accommodations for overnight guests, a restaurant, and a vineyard. The Scanlons are shooting for the moon, because Robe is located roughly 175 miles south of Adelaide and 300 miles west of Melbourne. “We’re not going to build just an average golf course,” Justin Scanlon told the Sunday Mail in 2014, when the venture was announced. “This has got to be world class. This has to be somewhere where people from the States, someone from Japan or China, says, ‘It’s one of the courses I have to go and play.’” Nora Creina will debut with one course, and if it’s successful the Scanlons will build the second one.

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

     Pipeline Overflow – Next summer, a nine-hole, par 3 course is expected to open at a former prisoner-of-war camp in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. The course, to be called the Ashford, will complement the 18-hole Snead track at the Greenbrier Sporting Club, a private community on the grounds of the historic Greenbrier resort. The Ashford will be a replica course, with holes that mimic the work of designers including Seth Raynor, C. B. Macdonald, A. W. Tillinghast, and Walter Travis. . . . The spirit of compromise is alive and well in Rancho Mirage, California. The owner of Rancho Mirage Country Club, a venue that’s been closed and slated for development since it was purchased in 2015, has agreed to give home owners in the accompanying community enough land for a “short” 18-hole golf course that could open by 2020. In exchange, the home owners will allow some houses and a hotel to be built next to the new course. . . . After sizing up what’s been described as “hundreds of options,” Lake Charles, Louisiana has settled on a site for its new golf course. The 18-hole track, a replacement for the city’s financially challenged Mallard Cove Golf Course, will take shape at an emerging community called MorganField that could use a nice recreational amenity. Construction could begin in early 2018.

     You think the sexual harassment that occurred at Bandon Dunes was an isolated incident? Think again. In Cottage Grove, Minnesota, William Doebler put his Mississippi Dunes Golf Links on the market just weeks after a court ruled that he oversaw a work environment that was hostile to women and made them fear that they’d lose their jobs if they complained about it. Doebler was ordered to pay $130,000 to some former female employees (plus a civil penalty of $20,000) because he allegedly made “sexually inappropriate comments,” including comments about “orgies,” and “sexual propositions” that included a suggestion about a “sleepover.” Doebler and his wife denied the allegations, but the judge in the case reportedly didn’t find their denials credible. Doebler designed the 18-hole course at Mississippi Dunes, which opened in 1995. During a trial last summer, it was revealed that in 2014 the course held an “ultimate guys night out” party that ended with a visit to a local strip club.

     Surplus Transactions – For an undisclosed price, Randall Anderson and a handful of investors have agreed to buy the Meadows, an 18-hole track in Litchfield, Maine. The sellers were Ron and Richard Foster, who built the Brad Booth-designed layout themselves in 1998. . . . Bud Evans has accepted $250,000 for his nine-hole golf course in Houston, Missouri. The new owner of Oakwood Golf Club, a venue that’s operated since 1985 and has reportedly “faced its demise multiple times,” is a group led by Doug and Michelle Moseley. The Houston Herald suggests that the town had a chance to buy the course but passed. . . . The city of Forsyth, Georgia now owns the entire Forsyth Golf Course. For $325,000, the city bought the track’s back nine, giving it possession of all 18 holes. The course, which opened in the mid 1930s, was designed and built by the Works Progress Administration.

     In a two-step transaction that’s expected to close later this month, Marin County, California will buy San Geronimo Golf Course, an 18-hole layout that’s operated in the town of San Geronimo since 1961. When all is said and done, the course’s current owner, the Lee Family Trust, get $8.85 million for the property and its Vernon Macan-designed golf course. The Lees will sell San Geronimo to the Trust for Public Land, a San Francisco-based preservation group, and then the trust will sell the course to the county, which intends to turn the 157-acre tract into a park. Most of the purchase price ($4.94 million) will come from the trust, while the county will contribute $3.91 million. The Marin Independent Journal reports that San Geronimo will likely go belly up soon after the sale is completed.

     Desolation Row Extended – The members of Vista Hills Country Club, in El Paso, Texas, are poised to sell their driving range to a residential developer. If the proposed sale goes through, the club can make some improvements to its 43-year-old golf course, an 18-hole track that was co-designed by Robert von Hagge and Bruce Devlin, and begin banking income from the 47 to 60 families that will buy the developer’s houses. . . . The city of West St. Paul, Minnesota is thinking about pulling the plug on Thompson Oaks Golf Course, a nine-hole track that’s reportedly been “on life support for a decade.” According to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, “a well-known developer” is eager to build houses, including houses for seniors, on the 23-acre property, which is said to be worth $1.7 million. Thompson Oaks opened in 1996, and the newspaper says it’s “seen a budget shortfall nearly every year since.” . . . Voters in Canton, Ohio have approved a zoning change that will enable Chuck Bennell to unload Tam O’Shanter Golf Course. Tam O’Shanter features a pair of 18-hole, Leonard Macomber-designed golf courses that are expected to remain open until 2019 or 2020. In the meantime, though, Bennell plans to sell 62 of his acres to a developer and either sell or donate 225 acres to local parks authorities. For what it’s worth, the property hosted Richard Mandell’s “Symposium on Affordable Golf” in 2015.