American Golf about to be sold?

An investment group with renewed interest in the golf business has reportedly agreed to purchase American Golf Corporation, the one-time titan among U.S. golf course operators, according to The Pellucid Perspective.

The Pellucid Perspective, a digital-only industry title, cited anonymous courses for its story. It said New York City-based Fortress Investment Group “will likely” pay more than $1.8 billion for AGC, which currently controls fewer than 100 golf properties. The estimate seems high, as a $1.8 billion price suggests that AGC’s mostly pedestrian courses are each worth roughly $18 million.

Goldman Sachs and Starwood Capital Group are the current owners, having bought AGC in 2003, when it was the world’s largest owner/operator of golf properties. American Golf subsequently disposed of more than half of it's portfolio.

Assuming the transaction closes, it’ll be Fortress’ second investment in the U.S. golf industry this year. In July, it became a financier for Arcis Equity Partners, a freshly minted golf investment group from Irving, Texas. Fortress, a hedge fund operator, has since 2006 owned Intrawest, a Denver, Colorado-based resort owner and operator that once had well over a dozen golf properties among its holdings. Fortress has sold all but four, two of them in Canada.

If history is any guide, Fortress would likely squeeze out profits by further selling off courses.

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