Monday, January 30, 2012

The Week That Was, january 29, 2012

malaysia A Spring Opening for 99 East

Ross Watson’s fifth golf course in Malaysia, the centerpiece of a resort community in Jalan Bukit Malut on Pulau Langkawi, will debut its full 18 holes in the spring of 2012.

The new 99 East Golf Club is taking shape on property that was formerly home to Langkawi Golf Club, which has been razed and redesigned with stylistic touches borrowed from both Scottish links and the local landscape: billowing native grasses, layers of rice terraces, and views of a dense rain forest.

The 7,330-yard track will be surrounded by a low-density waterfront community that includes villas and bungalows, boutique hotels, restaurants, and what’s being called the Royal Lodge, a residence for Malaysia’s head of state, His Royal Highness the Sultan of Kedah.

Watson, an Australian architect (he’s based in Robina, Queensland), has previously designed three courses in suburban Kuala Lumpur (including one of Malaysia’a premier courses, at Kota Permai Golf & Country Club) and another in suburban Johor Baharu (Horizon Hills Golf Club). His goal for the track at 99 East, which opened its first nine in June 2011, is to “challenge the pros while remaining fair to the recreational golfers.”

One other thing: 99 East is the first course in Malaysia to be managed by Troon Golf.

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

And in Other News . . .

. . . canada Owen Sound Golf & Country Club has found a buyer. The club, a fixture in Ontario since 1921, closed last summer, a victim of declining membership and resulting falling revenues. Its new owner, presuming the transaction closes successfully, will be Guelph-based Balnar Management, Ltd., a residential real estate manager that owns a nearby course, Stone Tree Golf & Fitness Club. Balnar hasn’t spelled out any improvements it plans to make at Owen Sound, but a new name is forthcoming. “We want to choose an identity that recognizes the club’s long history in the Owen Sound area but also asserts a new and exciting chapter in that history,” said Michael Balnar, the firm’s CEO, in a press release. Owen Sound’s centerpiece is an 18-hole, 6,145-yard course whose design is usually attributed to Stanley Thompson. However, as I noted last summer, the layout’s second nine opened in 1975, more than two decades after Thompson died. When it closed, Owen Sound was said to be saddled with $1.1 million in debt.

. . . bhutan You can turn out the lights, because the party is over for Bhutan’s first 18-hole golf course. As frequent readers may remember (I profiled this project last November), an unidentified Bhutanese “industrialist,” backed by unnamed foreign investors, had hoped to build the course in the town of Ura, in the central part of the nation. His proposal won the support of the national land commission, district officials, agriculture officials, and the tourism ministry, but it was nixed by higher powers who aim to preserve wetlands, grazing lands, and water supplies. A Bhutanese newspaper reports that the developers, confident that approvals would be granted, began construction, and then, when their proposal was rejected, asked the government to compensate them for their losses. That’s what I call moxie. The group is now said to be searching for a suitable golf course site in nearby districts.

. . . united states Bargains galore are available to prospective golf club members in California’s Coachella Valley. “There are some very attractive pricing incentives at some of the most popular private clubs in the desert,” reports Sheri Dettman, a Realtor in Palm Springs. Without question, the area has become a buyer’s market. Initiation fees have fallen to $45,000 at PGA West (from $125,000), to $69,500 at Indian Ridge Country Club (from $110,000), and to $30,000 at Citrus Golf Club (from $100,000). Tradition Golf Club is now said to be offering “market pricing” for its memberships, which are normally $200,000. “Each private club wants to keep its membership ranks as full as possible,” Dettman explains, “and it’s often a balancing act in adjusting prices to meet market conditions.” In her next press release, we hope Dettman tells us how many members these cut-rate prices have attracted.

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