Golf Inc - Summer 2012 - (Page 20)
Fore Golf Partners, at no. 13, made the biggest splash over the last 12 months. and regional operators like affiniti, landscapes and o.b. sports have kept a steady growth pace, thanks in part to courses from banks and other troubled properties. By BRUCE BUCKLEy
These days, it’s good to be a management company. Given the ongoing challenges for golf courses in today’s tough economy, more management companies are being called in to turn around troubled operations. Golf Inc.’s annual survey of golf course management companies shows that the top American companies have grown 10 percent since 2008. But the past year was an odd one. EAGLE Golf, No. 8 on last year’s list, restructured and shed 44 courses — mostly properties leased from CNL Lifestyle. Crown Golf in the United Kingdom sold 12 of its public courses, something it had announced it intended to do a few years ago. Japan’s two largest operators, Pacific and Accordia, also dropped a combined 12 courses as they slimmed down in preparation to merge. Altogether, the largest 25 golf management companies lost ground, dropping from 1,653 to 1,642 18-hole equivalent golf courses in the past year. Still, the threshold to be in the top 25 climbed from 16 to 20 courses, as smaller operators — like Affiniti Golf Partners and Landscapes Golf Group — continued to grow. That left some operators from last year’s list off this year’s even though they did not decline — including Kitson & Partners and Honours Golf.
Fore Golf’s big growth
But the biggest story in the past year was the growth of Fore Golf Partners. It made one of the biggest single-year jumps in the history of our list with the addition of 22 courses in May. Fore Golf assumed the leases and management contracts on courses owned by CNL Lifestyle Properties that were previously operated by EAGLE Golf. The deal greatly expanded the Manassas, Va.-based company’s reach
20 Golf Inc. Summer 2012
across the country, adding properties in Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Ohio and Oklahoma. Fore Golf operates 41 golf courses in 11 states. Under the agreement, Charlie Staples, chairman and CEO of Fore Golf, said the company didn’t significantly rework the contracts on each property. “We’re tr ying to help CNL and EAGLE,” he said. “We’re taking these properties and applying our formula to try to turn these courses around and immediately get them performing better. They are nice courses in great locations.” As part of the agreement, CNL committed to investing approximately $10 million into the courses. CNL and Fore Golf officials would not comment on why the EAGLE contracts were terminated. EAGLE officials could not be reached for comment. However, a source close to the transaction said it was “a good deal for everyone involved.” Fore Golf has gained critical mass quickly since its inception in August 2011. The company’s formation brought together the team of Charlie Staples and
Mike Miraglia with former ClubCorp executive Tom Bennison. Staples and Miraglia have worked together for more than two decades, buying and selling dozens of golf courses. Bennison served as senior vice president of business development at ClubCorp for 17 years before leaving in 2010. Prior to the formation of Fore Golf, Staples and Miraglia owned 13 courses, primarily in Florida and the mid-Atlantic. Since then, the company has added 28 courses, almost entirely through deals with CNL. Bennison said the partners see a unique opportunity to pick up golf courses in today’s troubled market. “This is the most opportunistic time any of the three of us have seen,” he said. From the start, the company’s focus has been acquisitions. To fuel potential growth, Fore Golf is backed by a group of investors, including businessmen John Pigott and Bruce Leadbetter; Harold (Hank) Handlesman, counsel to the Pritzker family of Chicago for 35 years; and Christopher Bancroft, a former director of Dow Jones & Company.
IllustratIons by sIdney Marra
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Golf Inc - Summer 2012
Golf Inc - Summer 2012
Table of Contents
Hiring Right: The First Step Toward Great Customer Service
New EPA Regulations Will Increase Turf Equipment Costs
Britain’s Greenkeepers Association Makes Operational Improvements, CEO Says
What the Future of Golf Could Look Like
Textron Financial, Capmark Put Golf Portfolios Up for Sale
With Commercial Real Estate Confidences Up, Is Golf Close Behind?
The Evolution of Donald Trump
Tasmania’s Coming of Age
Largest Management Companies
Renovation of the Year
Bald Head’s Logistical Challenge
The State of Technology in the Golf Industry
Britney Spears as Golf Spokesperson?
Golf Inc - Summer 2012