Monday, April 2, 2012

The Week That Was, april 1, 2012

morocco Tony Jacklin’s Marrakech Express

A year or so from now, Tony Jacklin expects to debut his second golf design in Morocco, at a U.S.-style resort community in suburban Marrakech.

Jacklin’s 27-hole complex will serve as a drawing card for Argan Golf Resort, which is being developed by the home-building arm of Groupe Addoha. Argan’s marketers have promised that the community’s 18-hole course will be “a jewel on par with the most prestigious professional golf courses.”

“We have designed the course in a desert style to minimize water consumption and have used plants and fauna that are indigenous to the area,” Jacklin reports in a press release. “The fabulous views of the Atlas Mountains provide the golfer with a stunning backdrop. This will undoubtedly provide players of all abilities with an experience to remember.”

Despite the exotic setting, the master plan for Argan mimics a familiar model. At build-out, the 550-acre community will consist of villas, apartments, a hotel, a spa, and an upscale shopping area. Jacklin has also agreed to produce a nine-hole, beginner-friendly track, and in the future he may be enlisted to add a golf academy.

To U.S. eyes, Argan’s only out-of-focus attraction is a polo club.

Groupe Addoha is a publicly traded company that was founded and is majority owned by Anas Sefioui, one of Morocco’s richest people. Bloomberg estimates that he’s worth $2.7 billion.

Groupe Addoha has reportedly built something like 190,000 houses all over Morocco, some of them at its Plage des Nations Golf Resort in suburban Rabat. In addition, the company is said to be building an 18-hole, Colin Montgomerie “signature” course at Marrakech Golf City in Marrakech.

In fact, Jacklin also has a little history with Groupe Addoha. Last year, construction began on a Jacklin-designed 18-hole course at Bouskoura Golf City in suburban Casablanca. Presuming the developers maintain their construction schedule, the course’s front nine will open later this year, the full 18 in 2013.

For those too young to remember Jacklin’s professional career, he won both a British and a U.S. open championship and was a member of seven Ryder Cup teams. He and Jack Nicklaus shared one of the best-remembered moments in Ryder Cup history, the famous “concession” putt that ended the 1969 matches in a draw. To commemorate this expression of sportsmanship, Jacklin and Nicklaus later co-designed Concession Golf Club in Sarasota, Florida.

Jacklin, who’s based in Bradenton, Florida, has also designed or co-designed courses in Spain (San Roque Club in Cadiz), Turkey (Klassis Golf & Country Club in Istanbul), and the Channel Islands (St. Pierre Park Golf Club in L’Ancresse).

His “ghost” designers for the courses at Argan and Bouskoura are a pair of Spanish architects, Blake Stirling and Marco Martin, who operate as Madrid, Spain-based Global Golf Company.

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 . . .

. . . united states For better or worse, Donald “the Persuader” Trump’s sphere of influence in the golf business continues to grow. Last week, after months of spirited debate, the members of Point Lake & Golf Club in Mooresville, North Carolina voted to sell their property to the New York City-based developer, self-promoter, and reality TV star. When the transaction closes, possibly later this month, the Point will be known as Trump National Golf Club Charlotte. Improvements to the club’s Greg Norman-designed golf course, its clubhouse, and its other amenities are in the cards, to provide the lifestyles-of-the-rich-and-famous cachet that Trump-owned golf venues require. Eric Trump, the son who’s sounding more and more like a chip off the old block every day, told the Charlotte Observer, “There is no doubt that when completed, Trump National Golf Club Charlotte will be the best club in North Carolina and beyond.” I hope it isn’t too much to ask, How far beyond? The results of the vote haven’t been published, but Eric Trump claims that his family won the vote “overwhelmingly.” The price: $3 million.

. . . south africa The financially ailing Durban Country Club has been bailed out, at least temporarily, by a half-dozen trustees and deep-pocketed members. The rescue squad put up 45 million rand -- more than $5.8 million, presuming my currency calculator is working properly -- to fend off a possible foreclosure for DCC, which has been a home away from home for Durban’s high society since 1922. The amount of the loan reflects the depth of the hole DCC is in, and it may not be enough to keep the club’s doors open, as a trustee has confessed to the Durban Mercury that the club is “insolvent.” These troubling money issues have put the fate of the club’s showpiece course into question. DCC features one of the continent’s top tracks, a layout co-designed by golf pros George Waterman and Laurie Waters that’s hosted 16 South African open championships. A management group has been hired to attract new members, but the trustee fears that he’ll “probably see more members leaving.” To secure the loan, DCC had to offer its second 18-hole course, the Beachwood course, as collateral.

. . . cuba The number of vacationers heading to Cuba may be increasing -– it was up by 7.3 percent last year -– but the number of golf courses planned to serve them is not. Last week, during a press conference called to tout the nation’s recent successes on the tourism front, a minister reported that his nation aims to open 13 golf courses by 2020. As the Cuba Standard dutifully notes, the number is down by three from the one tourism officials were shooting for in 2010. Not that it matters, since all of Cuba’s pie-in-the-sky predictions regarding golf development have so far proved to be nothing but hot air. It’s no sweat off my back -- or off any U.S. resident’s -- but I think it would be nice if Cuba’s all-talk, no-action government could manage to build just one course. For me, that would be reason to call a press conference.

. . . wild card click My salute to opening day.