BannLynch to withdraw academy from The Cliffs

Tiger Woods announces plans for The Cliffs at High Carolina during a 2007 press conference.

Tiger Woods announces plans for The Cliffs at High Carolina during a 2007 press conference.

After only a two-year stay, BannLynch Golf USA is relocating its golf academy at the end of the month from The Cliffs, citing the setbacks suffered by the development in the Carolinas.

BannLynch is moving to Saddlebrook Resort outside of Tampa, Fla., and will develop an academy there under a new name. The name of its previous facility, International Institute of Golf, belongs to The Cliffs. The development, home of Tiger Woods’ first U.S. course design project, has been pushed off schedule because of the recession and slowdown in home sales.

The move was triggered because many of The Cliffs’ promised resort amenities, including spa, fitness facilities and places to stay, never came to fruition, according to BannLynch officials. Barrett Wood, the company’s general manager, said its contract with the development stipulated that such elements needed to be in place.

“We don’t fault anyone,” Wood said from his office of the failed relationship with The Cliffs. “We’ve always been interested in a full-time academy, which is what we will have at Saddlebrook.”

Wood envisions creating a golf academy that would replicate the success of Saddlebrook’s renowned tennis program.

Meanwhile, The Cliffs is pursuing a golf-academy replacement.

“We’re in talks to replace them with another group,” said Brett Kist, vice president and general manager of Cliffs Communities.

At Saddlebrook, BannLynch’s plans call for a 20-acre facility dedicated to golf instruction. It is scheduled to be completed in early fall and is expected to include multiple teeing areas and target greens, short-game practice area, two indoor golf studios with state-of-the-art, swing-analysis technology, indoor putting lab, and a custom-fitting and repair center.

“We are thrilled about getting back to our roots and coaching junior golfers,” Dale Lynch said. “We will continue to provide instruction to golfers of all skill levels, but working closely in training juniors is something Steve (Bann) and I have missed.”

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