Top sales leaders II

Last week we introduced you to the top sellers and in this article we look at the top brokers in golf

These industry stars are facing an uncertain future because of COVID-19, as we mentioned lat week in the first part of this Top sales leaders story, but they’ve got a wealth of experience in making deals, even in turbulent times. 

Here is a look at the top three brokers in the industry today: 

Steven Ekovich

National Managing Director, Leisure Investment Properties Group & Vice President of Investments, Marcus & Millichap

As noted earlier, Ekovich was feeling bullish about golf — until the pandemic. 

And little wonder. Last year, he brokered the sale of seven golf courses offered by American Golf, which is pursuing a new venture called Drive Shack, which offers Topgolf-like entertainment venues

He also brokered the sale of a pair of golf courses at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Fla., for $3.45 million to Fore Golf Partners. That one had challenges.

He thought he had a deal in place for the seller. The prospective buyer was C-Bons International Golf Group, a Chinese firm. But tensions grew between C-Bons and the mayor and city commissioners, according to published reports. C-Bons accused the mayor of having a racial bias, which he denied. C-Bons pulled out. 

“That one even had an international incident,” Ekovich said. 

Yet it may have been a walk in the park compared to what’s coming next, in the wake of the coronavirus. 

He noted that the pandemic couldn’t have come at worse time for courses in the Northeast. It hit in the spring, just when the courses were set to open for the season.

If a club relied on golf and could remain open, it had a better chance of surviving; there was at least some revenue coming in. But for clubs that were reliant on food & beverage and weddings, look out.

“Some might have no choice but to sell,” Ekovich said.

Jeff Woolson

Executive Vice President at CBRE & Managing Director of its Golf & Resort Group

It appeared to be a good year for Woolson too, until the world went upside down. As noted, he brokered the deal between Heritage Golf Group and KLS Capital Partners. The price was not released.

Woolson did say: “It was a good one, that’s for sure.”

He also brokered the sale of Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa in Galena, Ill., for $65 million, as well as the sale of Reunion Resort in Kissimmee, Fla., which fetched $30 million. Yeah, not bad . . .

Until . . . He’s waiting for some clarity, he said. And when will clarity come? That’s the big question. 

However, he is intrigued by two unintended consequences. 

First, the game of golf could be prime for a resurgence because it allows for social distancing. And people were flocking to courses when shelter-at-home orders were initially mandated.

“Golf was killing it,” Woolson noted. 

Secondly, golfing communities could be in greater demand. 

“The second-home business had been in the dumps,” he said. “Now, everybody I know wants a second house.”

But he cautioned about future buying power. We are in a recession. “And golf memberships are sometimes the first thing to go.” 

Hilda Allen

Owner of Hilda W. Allen Real Estate

Could this be the new normal — at least for the next few months?

Allen is involved in the sale of Cross Creek Country Club in Mount Airy, N.C., for which the owners had hoped to accept sealed bids in April. However, they pushed the time frame back because of the coronavirus.

Allen has sold more than 1,000 courses with a total worth of  more than $1 billion, so she’s nothing if not experienced.  

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