Monday, January 23, 2012

The Week That Was, january 22, 2012

scotland The Wind and Other Blowhards

Donald Trump has threatened to abandon his soon-to-open resort community in Aberdeenshire if government officials approve the construction of an off-shore wind farm that will be visible from his coastal property. And the world is asking, Is Trump bluffing?

I think the answer is fairly apparent, but you can draw your own conclusions. In the meantime, here’s what I believe is a more intriguing question: Is it possible that, given Europe’s unrelenting economic slump, Trump no longer believes his community is viable and is looking for a convenient exit? In other words, is the wind farm simply a red herring that will allow Trump to bail on Scotland?

Such a notion can find plenty of support. After all, Trump has already delayed the start of construction on the community’s high-priced houses, its luxurious hotel, and its recently approved clubhouse -– in other words, all of its revenue-producing amenities. And while the community’s Martin Hawtree-designed course remains on track to open in June, Trump still hasn’t hired an architect for course number two, nor has he announced a construction date for it.

Trump’s character has long been a matter of much debate in Scotland, and his most recent threat has, not surprisingly, aroused additional suspicion about his true intentions. For the record, though, one of his top lieutenants has described any and all speculation about Trump International Golf Club Scotland’s viability as “absolutely ridiculous.”

The sad part is, this latest controversy has degenerated into a case of the proverbial ugly American versus a small nation with a dream of generating low-cost energy from the wind. In such battles, unfortunately, there are no winners.

canada Glenway Shrinks To Fit

A master-planned community is going to eat away half of the 18-hole golf course at Glenway Country Club in Newmarket, Ontario.

Marianneville Developments, a joint venture between the Toronto-based Kerbel Group and Lakeview Homes, bought the 150-acre club in late 2009 and shortly thereafter determined that it wasn’t sustainable in its original form. The partners believe it can survive with a nine-hole course, however, provided that the layout is surrounded by 710 single-family houses, townhouses, condos, and apartments, along with a retail/commercial area and a new 6,000-square-foot clubhouse with banquet space.

“This concept is what we believe could be integrated into the existing neighborhood,” Kerbel’s vice president of planning operations told the Newmarket Era last year.

The task of chopping away at Glenway falls to Doug Carrick, the Ontario-based architect who designed Glenway’s existing 6,200-yard track in the mid 1980s. Carrick’s work isn’t well-known south of the border, but Golfweek recently ranked eight of his designs among the top 30 modern courses in Canada, including two of the top 10: Muskoka Bay Golf Club in Gravenhurst, Ontario and Humber Valley Golf Course in Deer Lake, Newfoundland.

Marianneville plans to submit a formal development application to Newmarket’s planning department as soon as it completes various studies on the impact its project will have on the local community.

Some information in this post originally appeared in the August 2011 issue of the World Edition of the Golf Course Report.

And in Other News . . .

. . . china China’s population is aging rapidly, and I’m wondering if the nation’s golf developers are looking to cash in on what could be a golden opportunity. In the People’s Republic today, there are 178 million people over the age of 60, according to Frederik Balfour and Alfred Cang of Bloomberg. By 2050, the number is expected to grow to 437 million people –- one-third of the nation’s population. Decades ago on this side of the Pacific, a foresighted developer named Del Webb sized up a similar demographic bubble and created a residential concept that in retrospect appears to be a no-brainer: the Sun City retirement community. Today there are numerous Sun City and Sun City-style spreads all over the nation, most all of them outfitted with activity centers, shopping areas, and medical facilities, not to mention golf courses and other recreational amenities. It seems likely that Sun City-style communities would appeal to seniors in China, provided that they were re-tailored for local tastes. But there’s one caveat: “China’s challenge is similar to that faced by Japan in the 1990s, with one essential difference,” say the authors. “China will grow old before it gets rich.”

. . . united states It’s too soon to bet the mortgage, but the most powerful entity in U.S. golf is spreading the impression that 2012 will be “a banner year” for our industry. In fact, according to Paul Metzler of the PGA of America, the health of our nation’s golf courses has been improving for months, thanks largely to unseasonably warm weather and encouraging economic news. “We already noticed numbers getting stronger during the second half of 2011,” Metzler told the Triangle Business Journal. Of course, this silver lining has a gray cloud: Metzler notes that the price of rounds has also been increasing in recent months, and, as courses become more crowded, will almost certainly continue to increase. (Mind you, I’m not complaining.) It’s important to note that Metzler is the PGA’s senior director of marketing and industry relations, which means that he may simply be spinning a few shreds of shiny cloth into a coat of many colors. I’d feel more confident about such predictions if they were being made by, say, the PGA’s director of research. That being said, I hope Metzler is being prudent and not pulling wool over our eyes.

. . . wild card click Bliss is just a mouse-click away.