Fore Golf purchases LPGA International

After two deals for LPGA International Golf Course fell through earlier this year, a third buyer has finally made a successful bid. The sale of the Daytona Beach, Fla.-based club was announced Oct. 17 by seller Consolidated-Tomoka Land Co.’s (CTLC’s) consultant of the last seven years, Marcus & Millichap.

CTLC, based in Daytona, is one of the largest land owners in the state. According to Steven Ecovich, Marcus & Millichap national managing director, when the company developed the club and established the LPGA headquarters in Daytona Beach, it had originally leased the land from the city.

“That lease was an onerous lease with the city of Daytona that was severely hurting the financials, consequently we advised the seller to buy the land from the city, eliminating the lease payment,” said Ecovich.

In addition to the lease payments, the company was experiencing tremendous negative equity each year. It brought in two different management companies Club Corp. and Arcis Golf to try to help turn things around.

The first offer to buy the club came from an unsolicited offer from a member group. After making an offer, the group decided it wanted to retrade on price. Ecovich advised John Albright, CTLC CEO to look elsewhere for a buyer.

CTLC listed the club for $4 million, and went under contract with a large golf course owner, C-Bons International Golf Group (CBIGG), which was equity backed in China. CBIGG wanted to modify a three party agreement with the LPGA, the city of Daytona and CTLC, but as they were nearing completion of the deal, remarks made by Mayor Dick Henry, which the firm considered offensive, resulted in the company backing out of the deal two weeks before closing.

CTLC entertained a second group but eventually turned down that offer after the group “talked about how much cap-ex it would need,” said Ecovich.

CTLC received a total of eight offers on the property and it was the third offer from Fore Golf that finally sealed the deal.

“We had 128 title defects we had to work through. We did that and eventually closed,” said Ecovich.

Charles Staples, Fore Golf founder and CEO said company was interested in the property for a number of reasons. “We are interested in golf courses in Florida. It’s just a very nice property with a lot going on around it in terms of development. It is a good location with two really good golf courses.

The club offers 36 holes of championship golf designed by renowned architects Arthur Hills and Rees Jones.

Staples said LPGA International has one of the best practice facilities he has ever seen with an 80,000 square feet driving range with 10 target greens to aim at, three practice holes, six putting greens, practice bunkers, an uneven lie area and pitching greens.

“If you like to practice, it is a paradise,” he said.

The good course condition and busyness of the course were also appealing to Fore Golf.

“We like that it is busy,” said Staples. “We believe it can be busier. We are obviously in it for profit, so we think it has tremendous potential.”

The courses get around 60,000 rounds per year and he’d like to get that up to 80,000. That doesn’t seem out of the realm of possibility considering the number of housing developments nearby. One such development, Latitude Margaritaville, is a planned community that currently has 850 residences and when it is complete, will have around 7,000 residences.

“Eventually we’ll have a larger membership and larger public base as well.”

Fore Golf isn’t planning on making any major renovations to the property at this time. It will be renovating the members-only practice tees and some bunkers with drainage problems need addressed. The overall condition of the courses are good, Staples said.

Initial plans Fore Golf has for the property includes offering more programs for members. Staples said the company has plans to start a new player development program that has been successful at its other courses. The program allows men to come out and hit women’s range balls play nine holes of golf early or late.

“It’s inexpensive for them to do that,” he said. “It is great for developing golfers. It allows people to come out with their wives and enjoy the nice weather and good scenery.”

With the LPGA International acquisition, Fore Golf now owns eight golf clubs in Florida. It recently sold one of its clubs, River Hills Country Club in Valrico, Florida, after a six-month negotiation with the River Hills Home Owners Association. Marcus & Millichap was the consultant to Fore Golf on that transaction.

Staples said the company is also close to a sale of its National Golf Club in Fort Washington, Maryland to an Ethiopian investor. That is expected to close Nov. 4.

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