Walt Disney World Resort announced it will turn over day-to-day operations of its five golf courses to Arnold Palmer Golf Management.
The change, effective Sept. 25, will not impact Disney’s hosting of the PGA Tour’s Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic, but it will result in a renovation of Disney’s Palm course – one of the resort’s two layouts used for the tournament.
The Magnolia course, which also is used for the Tour’s Fall Series event Oct. 20-23, and the Lake Buena Vista course will undergo upgrades as well, according to Doug Howe, a partner with Century Golf Partners, the Addison, Texas-based company that owns Arnold Palmer Golf Management.
In addition, APGM will oversee the Oak Trail and Osprey Ridge courses. Responsibility for the latter, however, will later transfer to the Four Seasons Hotel and Resorts, which has an agreement with Disney to acquire the property.
Howe said APGM pursued Disney as a client as part of its efforts to expand its business, which includes managing or owning more than 70 facilities. One of APGM’s key assets: a membership club called “Palmer Advantage” that provides participants travel benefits and access to more than 250 private clubs, resorts and courses.
“Our interest was to add a family-friendly vacation destination,” Howe said. “We have the ability to move our members to go to these properties. . . . It caused (Disney executives) to evaluate their golf operations.”
The 20-year alliance enables Disney to recruit additional help to compete in a highly competitive and overcrowded Florida golf market. It calls for APGM to make lease payments to Disney, and the two partners agreed to a revenue-sharing deal.
In a statement released Aug. 24, Ken Potrock, senior vice president of Disney Sports Enterprises, said: “Drawing on Arnold Palmer Golf Management’s expertise and experience enables us to build on our mutual strengths and extend our appeal both among leisure players and avid golfers.”