25 Largest Management Companies: 2011

The world’s largest golf course management companies grew by 8 percent over the past year, and now operate 1,653 18-hole equivalent golf courses, up by 21 percent from 2006. Here is a summary of the 25 largest in order of size:

1. Troon Golf           
Number of Courses: 209.5           
Location: Scottsdale, Ariz.
Top Executive: Dana Garmany, Chairman & CEO
Troon still reigns as the world leader, with 209.5 18-hole-equivalent golf courses either in operation or in development. It is the only management company with more than a handful of courses — 31.5 — under construction. Most of those projects are outside the U.S., including projects in India, China and a $500 million floating golf course in the Maldives. Garmany returned this year to the company he founded in 1990 after a one year departure. 
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2. Pacific Golf Management           
Number of Courses:157.5           
Location: Tokyo, Japan
Top Executive: Andre Kovensky, CFO
The Tokyo-based company was founded in 2001, and grew to 98 courses within five years under the direction of American Joe Lenihan. Lenihan introduced American golf management principles to Japan, including slashing expenses and lowering fees. The company went public in 2005 and quickly grew to its current size, where it has been for the last few years. It owns most of the courses in its portfolio. 
3. Accordia Golf
Number of Courses: 138           
Location: Tokyo, Japan
Top Executive: Michihiro Chikubu, President & CEO
Goldman Sachs Group invested heavily into Accordia Golf in 2002 and helped the management giant grow to 86 courses in 2006 and then 138 today, by buying distressed properties. It took the company public in 2006, and announced in January that it was selling its remaining 44.7% stake in the company – valued at $447.5 million. 
4. Billy Casper Golf
Number of courses: 131           
Location: Vienna, Va.
Top Executive: Peter Hill, CEO & Chairman; Robert Morris, Vice Chairman
Billy Casper Golf continues its brisk growth. It added 11 courses this year, recently adding Sapelo Hammock Golf Club in Shellman Bluff, Ga., Hilltop Golf Course in Plymouth Township, Mich., and Harbour Pointe Golf Course in New Bern, N.C. The Vienna, Va.-based operator has more than doubled in size over the past five years from 62 to 131 courses. It had only 18.5 courses in 2001. 
5. ClubCorp
Number of courses: 128           
Location: Dallas, Texas
Top executive: Eric Affeldt, President & CEO
After spending the first few years of ownership polishing up the portfolio, Eric Affeldt now leads an organization that is looking to acquire properties. Affeldt took over as CEO when KSL acquired it from the Dedman family in 2006. The company had struggled its last seven years under the Dedmans, bogged down with debt and then the death of its founder, Bob Dedman, in 2002.
Affeldt pumped an estimated $200 million into the company’s then 114- course portfolio, and asked the private clubs to aggressively reach out to families. That strategy has worked. Now that the existing clubs are upgraded and membership sales are doing well, Affledt has his eyes on new course acquisitions. It bought the Country Club of the South in Summer 2010, and three courses in Long Island in Summer 2011. 
Next week: No. 6 thorugh 10

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