Escalante Golf acquires two Florida courses

Escalante Golf, a boutique management and ownership company, recently acquired two Florida golf courses bringing its total portfolio to ten facilities, and moving it into the ranks of the largest operators in the United States.

The Texas-based company acquired Spanish Wells Country Club in Bonita Springs from Wachovia Bank in mid-March and Black Diamond Ranch in Lecanto a few weeks before that. It has grown from four to eleven properties over the past three years.

Black Diamond Ranch, recognized by Golf Digest as one of "America's 100 Greatest Golf Courses," features 45 holes. Stan Olsen, who developed the community in 1987, retired in 2010 and had been looking for a buyer.

"The window of opportunity to acquire some great courses for a really good price is open now but won't be forever," said David Matheson, vice president of marketing for Escalante and a part-owner in the company. "An opportunity like Black Diamond does not present itself that often."

Matheson said Spanish Wells was a strategic fit for the operator. It owns Tarpon Cove Yacht and Raquet Club, its only non-golf facility, which is less than five miles from Spanish Wells.

Matheson said the clubs are being merged so that members have access to golf, a marina and a beach. Escalante now has five courses in Florida. Seven of its courses are private clubs, and three are public. It owns six of the ten facilities.

David McDonald and brothers Elcio Silva and Robert Silva founded Escalante in 1991. Matheson joined the company last year, after 12 years in marketing at Starwood Hotel and Resorts. All four attended college together at University of Oklahoma and were in the same fraternity.

"We sat around in the fraternity and talked about running golf courses someday, and here we are," Matheson said.

Matheson said the company has a long-term commitment to golf as both an owner and manager.

"We don't want to be too heavily slanted towards ownership or membership," he said. "But we are not going to pass up a good oppotunity."

Escalante acquired The Crosby National in San Diego, Calif. two years ago from Starwood and has improved course conditions and membership.

Matheson said the company has not significant changes planned for Black Diamond.

"The conditions of the courses are in terrific shape but we feel we can make them better," he said. "First and foremost, we will pay close attention to the details - the entire member experience and focus on basic blocking and tackling. As the economy recovers, we feel we can build upon its great reputation and make it even better."

Black Diamond features three Tom Fazio-designed courses . The Quarry, The Ranch and The Highlands. The Quarry Course, set amongst limestone cliffs, live oak trees, dogwoods, myrtles and magnolias, has ranked one of "America's 100 Greatest Courses". for 20 consecutive years by Golf Digest and among the .Top 100 Courses in the U.S.. by GOLF Magazine.

Escalante owned golf courses

  1. The Crosby National - San Diego, Calif., private,
  2. The Raven at Three Peaks - Silverthorne, Colo., private
  3. Pine Creek Golf Club - Colorado Springs, Colo., public
  4. Country Club of the North - Beavercreek, Ohio, private
  5. Black Diamond Ranch, Lecanto, Fla., private, 45 holes
  6. Spanish Wells Country Club, Bonita Springs, Fla., private, 27 holes

Third-party managed golf courses

  1. Coyote Creek Golf Course, Fort Lupton, Colo., public
  2. Kings Gate Golf Club, Port Charlotte, Fla., public
  3. Waterlefe Golf Club, Bradenton, Fla., private
  4. Orchard Ridge Country Club, Fort Wayne, Ind., private

David McDonald, President
Elcio Silva, Vice President of Operations
Robert Silva, Vice President of Business Development
David Matheson, Vice President of Corporate Communications and Marketing

Escalante Golf 9850 Divot Trail
Colorado Springs, CO 80920

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