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Querencia CEO: Baja still has 'tremendous potential'

Martin Kaufmann

LOS CABOS, Mexico – Jorge Carrera was appointed CEO of Querencia, a private golf club and residential community here, in July 2004, just as real estate sales were hitting their peak. Querencia benefited greatly from that, in part because of the quality of its golf course, which was designed by Tom Fazio and is ranked No. 2 on the list of Golfweek’s Best Courses of the Caribbean and Mexico.

More recently Carrera has had to navigate Querencia through recessionary times, which have forced the community to delay development of a second golf course that Gil Hanse has been selected to design. Long term, however, he remains upbeat about prospects for Querencia and the Los Cabos region.

Carrera recently talked with Golfweek about real estate and tourism in Los Cabos.

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Golfweek: What is your assessment of the real estate market here?

Carrera: We had three wonderful years – 2005, ’06 and ’07 were magnificent years. We more than doubled the membership from when we acquired it. We were able to design and build the clubhouse, design and build the infrastructure, utilities, and fiber-optic throughout the whole development for communications, put some product in places like the condominiums and the villas that were ...

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Possible savior for Woods' N.C. design emerges

Golfweek Staff

The Cliffs, the financially troubled network of high-end communities in North and South Carolina that includes Tiger Woods' stalled mountain course, will be under new ownership.

As for the future of High Carolina, the Blue Ridge design south of Asheville that would be Woods' first U.S. creation, that remains uncertain.

Buyers Steve and Penny Carlile, a Marshall, Texas, couple whose Carlile Group intends to buy The Cliffs out of bankruptcy, told the Asheville (N.C.) Citizen-Times that they will inject more money into the clubhouses and golf courses and oversee sales efforts in The Cliffs' eight communities. The Carliles already had a vested interest in the success of the project, which stalled amid the recent economic recession, as property owners at High Carolina. However, fewer than 50 of 1,100 planed lots have been sold there, and only two homes stand in the 3,000-acre development, according to the Citizen-Times.

Steve Carlile called High Carolina "a remarkable property that needs a remarkable solution."

Work on Woods' design was stopped last year, with only about one-fourth of the rough grading reportedly completed.

Tim Cherry, the chief financial officer of The Cliffs, said that ClubCo, the subsidiary that owns the golf ...

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Haversham chief: Travelers ‘tired of putting it off’

Martin Kaufmann

Sam Baker founded Cincinnati-based Haversham & Baker Golfing Expeditions in 1991, and in the past 21 years has sent more than 10,000 golfers on trips to Great Britain and Ireland. Much of his business is built through relationships formed with club professionals. Ninety-seven percent of Haversham’s customers are members of private clubs, and the company has provided travel services for more than 1,200 golf clubs.

Baker sat down with Golfweek during the PGA Merchandise Show to discuss the state of golf travel.

Golfweek: How was business in 2011?

Sam Baker: We got back last year pretty close to what we were doing before the recession. We finished December with the biggest pre-sell (for 2012) that we’ve ever had, by a lot. The high end of the travel market is back, just like high-end retail is back. The people who shop at Tiffany’s, the people who buy at Burberry’s, those people are back buying. And those are the same people who travel with us.

Golfweek: Did you find that customers who put off taking golf trips the past few years are now coming back?

Baker: The old political science term was slack in the system. Economists ...

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PerryGolf founder sees golf travelers 'resurfacing'

Martin Kaufmann

Gordon Dalgleish and his brother, Colin, co-founded PerryGolf in August 1984. Since then, their company has organized overseas golf trips for nearly 50,000 travelers – mostly to Scotland and Ireland, but also to more far-flung destinations such as New Zealand and South Africa.

During the PGA Merchandise Show, Gordon Dalgleish discussed the golf travel market with Golfweek.

Golfweek: How is 2012 shaping up in the golf travel category?

Dalgleish: 2010 was a bad year, 2011 was slightly disappointing because it started stronger but finished off weaker. 2012 is shaping up with some level of optimism. My sense is that we’re going to have a good improvement over ’11. One trend that we’re seeing is that a lot of repeat customers from 2005, ’06, ’07 – guys who were maybe two- or three-year-cycle travelers – missed a cycle. They’re now resurfacing. They’re thinking, “OK, the world isn’t perfect, we’re not getting any younger, we want to get back to doing things we enjoy as a group.” It’s a fairly noticeable trend when I see bookings come through. 

Golfweek: What’s the state of golf travel to Scotland and Ireland?

Dalgleish: Scotland continues to come back faster ...

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Seventh heaven: Cabo's Ocean rises with new par 3

Martin Kaufmann

As director of golf at Cabo del Sol, a 36-hole facility in Los Cabos, Mexico, Greg Tallman has overseen changes to the resort's signature Ocean Course, a Jack Nicklaus design that is ranked No. 6 among Golfweek's Best Courses of the Caribbean and Mexico. Tallman, who has been at Cabo del Sol for eight years, also has worked through the boom years and the downturn of recent years. 

Golfweek recently spoke with Tallman about the Ocean Course and the golf business in Los Cabos.

Golfweek: What prompted the changes to holes 5, 6 and 7 on the Ocean Course, and what were you hoping to accomplish?

Greg Tallman: When we were re-grassing the greens in 2004 – we took them from TifDwarf to TifEagle – Jack was here and spent two days riding (the course). We basically said, ‘Pretend you have a blank check. Give us every idea of what you would like to do.’ We got a hole-by-hole report on what he would do. (Nos.) 6 and 7 were the major things, and 16 green, which was done immediately because we were replacing the greens at that time, so we went ahead and pushed that back about 25 yards ...

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Amateur hour: A slow warm-up for the Phoenix Open

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – File this one in the Tour Pro Wannabe Department: the inaugural Waste Management’s Scottsdale Open, held Jan. 13-15, served as a civilian-hacker lead-up to the big dance Feb. 2-5 when the PGA boys come to town for the Phoenix Open – arguably the wildest week in golf. If you’re planning to attend that shootout, bring a hard hat, preferably the kind with the handy beer-can holder and plastic hose. Very chic, indeed.

More than 100 polo-shirted bruisers ponied up nearly $2,000 per two-man team to compete for trophies, prizes, the odd snifter of cold lager and copious trays of tasty finger food. That and three rounds of high-quality desert golf on a succession of cold mornings made for a nippy if collegial outing. And yes, I confess to telling my group that we were 15 minutes behind schedule due to someone reciting poetry on the first tee: a Robert Frost delay, I called it. Cymbal crash, if you please, and don’t forget to tip your waiter.

There were three flights in the Scottsdale Open (organized in partnership with the genial folks at the Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau): gross score; net score and senior-net handicap. Round ...

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Trump goes with his gut on Ferry Point

Bradley S. Klein

NEW YORK - Donald Trump’s proposed management contract of the Ferry Point Golf Course here has met plenty of scrutiny lately. The developer is being scorned as the beneficiary of what critics call a sweetheart deal that would come at the expense of city taxpayers. But the opposition, while enjoying a certain tabloid plausibility, also is misplaced and overlooks some key aspects of the proposal. Meanwhile, the substantive questions that need to be asked concern not Trump but the city’s Department of Parks & Recreation that’s behind the development.

Ferry Point is a 222-acre parcel on the southern tip of Bronx County, N.Y. It sits under the northern side of the Whitestone Bridge and includes shoreline along the East River. For decades, it was an open dump, used in the 1960s for household trash and in the ’70s and ’80s as a dumping ground for construction debris. Plans for a capped landfill to include a golf course have circulated in city planning offices since the early 1990s.

The project finally went to public bid in 2008, with the design contract awarded to the team of Jack Nicklaus and John Sanford. Both are golf course designers, with Nicklaus, the ...

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Baldry: Scotland trip a must for avid golfers

Beth Ann Nichols

The concierge in Edinburgh scoffed at our 6:40 a.m. tee time. Only “naked lady caddies” would get him on a golf course that early in the morning.

But this, we tried to tell him, was the Old Course at St. Andrews, and well worth the sacrifice. Besides, we’d literally won the lottery to secure the tee time.

By 4 a.m., my friend Jenny Kellams and I were on the road, eating Cadbury chocolate and watching the sun rise as we made our way to the "Home of Golf." It was Day 7 of our summer Scottish adventure, and our fifth round of golf.

As we start the New Year, now might be a good time to start planning a wish list. Every serious golfer needs to make at least one trek across the pond. A few pointers from our girls’ trip:

First stop: Kilspindie Golf Club, a delightful little par-69 track (par 70 for the ladies) in Aberlady that serves as an excellent warm-up round for those feeling jet-lagged. (I told my tired friend that if we were men, we’d be playing 36 holes a day! They generally don’t shop.)

Random warning: The Brits ...

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USGA appeals to S.F. mayor to save Sharp Park

Bradley S. Klein

The U.S. Golf Association has weighed in on the public debate about San Francisco’s Sharp Park Golf Course and come to the support of the beleaguered municipal layout.

In a letter to San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee, a copy of which was obtained by Golfweek, USGA executive director Mike Davis expresses concern over the effects of a Board of Supervisors resolution passed Dec. 13 that likely would lead to “the demise of one of America’s most precious public golf courses.”

The letter goes on to urge the mayor “to consider appropriate actions that would allow continuation of the honored tradition of affordable, accessible and environmental-friendly public golf at Sharp Park.”

While the letter does not actually call for Lee to veto the Board of Supervisors’ recent vote, the possibility of an executive veto now looms as a distinct possibility to override the measure that passed by a 6-5 vote.

Davis’ letter does address the historic nature of the golf course – a design by Alister Mackenzie to whom Davis refers as “the Frank Lloyd Wright of golf.” The five-paragraph letter goes on to laud the golf course as “a living breathing, functioning San Francisco landmark."

Sharp Park ...

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Diamante raises the bar in Cabo

Martin Kaufmann

CABO SAN LUCAS, Mexico – Three years ago, during my first visit to Mexico’s Los Cabos, I jumped on an ATV and drove across enormous dunes to see the planned site for two Jack Nicklaus golf courses. The site for the still-stalled Quivira development, which sits high above the point where the Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific Ocean, remains perhaps the most spectacular setting I’ve ever seen for a proposed course. 

From that hillside, another course was visible just to the west. It appeared to be nearly completed, but was sitting dormant. No workers were in sight, and certainly no golfers. 

Work on the Diamante Dunes Course and the entire 1,500-acre development had been halted after Lehman Brothers, a key source of financing, crashed and burned in September 2008. I assumed the project was dead in the water, but fortunately, I was wrong. The Dunes Course has been open since October 2009, and I finally got a chance to see it up close on Dec. 10. 

First impression: Even in the crowded Cabo golf market, Diamante stands out as a special experience. Part of that stems from the fact that it’s the lone Cabo course located ...

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Finalists selected for Olympic course design

Bradley S. Klein

Competitive bidding for plum course-design assignments is nothing new for golf architects.

But it’s fair to say that the industry never has seen a bigger project pursued by so many distinguished teams as is the case now with golf’s return to the Olympics for the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.

What began as an open call for qualified designers that drew more than two dozen applications has been narrowed to an elite eight: Tom Doak, Gil Hanse, Martin Hawtree, Robert Trent Jones II, Gary Player and the design teams of Jack Nicklaus and Annika Sorenstam; Greg Norman and Lorena Ochoa; and Peter Thomson and Ross Perrett.

The applicants signed confidentially agreements. As a condition of the project, the three-man team representing 2016 Rio Olympics has set a fee of $300,000 – a fraction of the normal design rate most of these architects receive. The big prize here will be the prestige of having designed a showpiece for the global game.

The site itself is an undistinguished, virtually flat, land-locked parcel on the far southwest side of Rio de Janeiro near the planned Olympic Village. Technical specifications, as well as budgets, environmental issues and timeline, will be shared ...

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Marco Island acquires Hammock Bay GC

Martin Kaufmann

Earlier this year, I made my first visit to the Marco Island Marriott in southwest Florida, and it turned out to be one of my “top finds” of 2011. Now comes news that the Marriott has acquired Hammock Bay Golf Course to complement The Rookery at Marco, its existing course.

The courses are located off-site – The Rookery is nine miles inland, Hammock Bay six miles away – and will alternate daily between members-only play and member-and-guest play. Green fees will range from $79 to $179, depending on the season. 

Hammock Bay is a 7,080-yard layout designed by Peter Jacobsen and Jim Hardy. It should be a good addition to an already-impressive resort.

A few years ago, a friend urged me to visit Marco Island to see the Gulf-front Marriott and The Rookery. Once I visited, I could understand his enthusiasm for the property. 

The Marco Island Marriott is simply fabulous – one of the best oceanfront resorts I’ve seen in Florida. The resort went through a $225 million renovation that was completed in 2007 and was billed as the largest capital investment ever to an existing Marriott property. What you’re left with is considerable: 727 exceedingly comfortable rooms, 10 ...

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Dorado East emerges from renovations

Martin Kaufmann

DORADO, Puerto Rico – The East Course at Dorado Beach arguably is the most historic course in the Caribbean, and for decades was considered one of the best. 

It was designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. as part of a seaside resort developed by Laurance Rockefeller’s RockResorts brand. Eight Champions Tour events and the 1964 World Cup of Golf have been played on the East Course. 

When I first visited Dorado Beach in April 2008, however, both the resort and its East Course looked tired. The property’s old Hyatt hotel was an eyesore waiting to be demolished, and the East Course and much of the resort needed extensive landscaping to clear out overgrown trees and foliage so that residents and guests could enjoy the chief attraction: the Atlantic Ocean. 

In July 2010, the resort announced an ambitious redevelopment project, thanks largely to backing from the government’s Tourism Development Fund. The heavy equipment churning away behind construction fencing is evidence that the $342 million first phase is well underway. The most tangible sign of progress is the East Course, which reopened in late October following renovations by the firm run by Robert Trent Jones Jr., whose memories of the ...

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Salamander expands Florida reach by adding 2 resorts

Martin Kaufmann

Sheila C. Johnson is the latest hospitality executive to try to profit from one of Bobby Ginn’s numerous failures.

Salamander Hotels & Resorts, the Middleburg, Va., hospitality company that Johnson founded in 2005, will assume management of Reunion Resort near Orlando, Fla., and Hammock Beach Resort in Palm Coast, on Florida’s northeast coast. Salamander also has taken an ownership stake in the resorts, according to Prem Devadas, the company’s president.

The resorts are owned by Lubert-Adler, L.P., a real estate equity firm. They originally were developed by Ginn, whose resort business grew quickly during the real estate boom and collapsed just as abruptly.

Devadas wouldn’t disclose the size of Salamander’s investment in Reunion and Hammock Beach, but said, “It is significantly enough that it aligns our interests (with the existing ownership’s), which is very different from a typical management (contract).”

Johnson and Devadas made the announcement at Reunion, in an event that was more pep rally than press conference. They were joined by Annika Sorenstam, whose golf academy is based at Reunion.

Along with Innisbrook Golf Resort, which Johnson acquired in 2007, Reunion and Hammock Beach give Salamander three major golf resorts along the ...

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Destination: Zanesville? It's an arranged marriage

Steve Harmon

ZANESVILLE, Ohio – When avid golfers envision a vacation spot, they’ve likely got Bandon Dunes, Pinehurst or one of the many Sunbelt destinations in mind.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever considered Zanesville, Ohio.

Didn’t think so.

Truckers running freight from Columbus east to Pittsburgh know this stop on I-70 as the last city of any size before cornfields give way to the Appalachian foothills. Golfers are starting to identify this crossroads of east-central Ohio as a weigh station of another kind.

Longaberger Golf Club, minutes north in Nashport, and EagleSticks Golf Club in Zanesville have forged a coalition among competitors. Longaberger, the perennial champion in the Golfweek’s Best Ohio rankings, and EagleSticks, an annual contender, have bucked the economic headwinds of recent years. Sure, business is off a bit – in the single-digit percentages – but it could be much worse. Their partnership is a big reason why it isn’t.

It’s sort of like a two-man scramble team: one bomber (Longaberger) paired with a precision player (EagleSticks).

“We went together and created a win-win,” said Danny Ackerman, Longaberger’s general manager and head professional.

EagleSticks, an efficiently routed Michael Hurdzan design on a cozy 135-acre tract ...

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