Top deals of 2015

Every year tells its own story. In 2014, it was the year of the megadeal. That was not the case in 2015.

“It has been a really interesting market this year,” said Steven Ekovich, first vice president and director of Leisure Investment Properties Group’s national golf division. “It’s unlike any of the past six years.”

The gap in expectations between buyers and sellers is the largest he has ever seen. Buyers are still looking for distressed assets, and for the first time in a while, there aren’t many.

“It’s been more difficult to make deals this year,” Ekovich said.

But big sales did occur, usually for single properties. The two biggest deals were in the United Kingdom. Other sales had more to do with right-sizing.

“There’s an effect where we are reacting to the overbuilding of the 1980s and 1990s,” said PM Realty Group Vice President Ken Arimitsu. “In 2016, you’re going to see a lot of obsolete properties going away, and that helps the surrounding courses because there’s less supply.”

1. Gleneagles Hotel and Golf Resort

    Buyer: Ennismore

    Seller: Diageo

    Price: £150m, or approx. $225 mil.

Owned by Diageo, the British alcohol company behind Guinness and Smirnoff, for more than three decades, the recent Ryder Cup host venue, Gleneagles Hotel and Golf Resort in Scotland, sold for about £150m, or approx. $225 million, this summer. Diageo sold the property because it was not a core asset and it felt no time would be better for a good price, since it had just hosted the Ryder Cup.

Ennismore, a private investment company, won the deal after battling the final bidder, KSL Capital Partners, which bought Cameron House, this year’s second biggest deal.

Ennismore is primarily in the hotel business. It has made its name by renovating old buildings and turning them into boutique hotels with a cool vibe. It is unclear how Gleneagles fits within its core business.

Gleneagles features 54 holes on three courses, including Jack Nicklaus’ PGA Centenary Course, The King’s Course, The Queen’s Course, a nine-hole practice course and a PGA National Golf Academy.

Nicklaus described his course as “the finest parcel of land in the world I have ever been given to work with.” 

2. Cameron House

    Buyer: KSL Capital Partners

    Seller: QHotels

    Broker: CBRE

    Price: £70 million, or approx. $106 million

The year ended with the sale of Cameron House and Carrick Country Club, two sister properties located in Glasgow, Scotland. According to The Scotsman newspaper, the properties sold for an estimated £70 million, or approx. $106 million, to KSL Capital Partners, LLC, a private equity firm based in Denver, Colo. The seller, QHotels, had purchased the property from De Vere in November 2014.

Cameron House features the Wee Demon, a nine-hole course to warm up on before playing The Carrick on Loch Lomond, a par-71 course named for its designer, Doug Carrick. CBRE’s Golf & Resort Group and CBRE Hotels London represented Sankaty Advisors and Canyon Capital Advisors, the joint venture that owns QHotels, in the transaction.

3. Stratford Golf Partners & Accord Golf Capital portfolio

    Buyer: ClubCorp

    Seller: Stratford Golf Partners and Accord Golf Capital

    Price: $44 million

While ClubCorp president and CEO Eric Affeldt called this six-property deal one of the “smaller portfolios” it found attractive, the $44 million sale proved to be one of the biggest deals of the year. Funded by existing liquidity, ClubCorp first announced the sale in March, and it closed in April. Stratford Golf Partners, an affiliate of New York City-based Och-Ziff Capital Management Group, had acquired four of the six courses from Textron Financial in 2013. Textron had foreclosed on all four.

The six clubs now owned by the private-club giant are: Bermuda Run Country Club in Bermuda Run, N.C.; Brookfield Country Club in Roswell, Ga.; Firethorne Country Club in Marvin, N.C.; Ford’s Colony Country Club in Williamsburg, Va.; Legacy Golf Club at Lakewood Ranch in Bradenton, Fla.; and Temple Hills Country Club in Franklin, Tenn. 

To find out which other sales made the list of Top Deals of 2015, read the free digital Jan/Feb issue of Golf Inc. Magazine here. 

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