Bennison, Staples spearhead new buyer group, acquire first course

A trio of golf industry veterans have formed a joint venture with investors to acquire golf courses throughout the United States. The partnership, Fore Golf Partners, recently acquired its first course — Feather Sound Country Club in Clearwater, Fla. 
“It is a good story for the golf industry when you can secure sophisticated investor capital,” said Tom Bennison, one of the partners and a 27-year veteran of ClubCorp. “It shows investor confidence in golf.”
Bennison’s partners are Charlie Staples and Mike Miraglia. Staples has been in the golf industry for 40 years and has owned and operated 80 golf courses. He is considered the “highest margin” operator in the industry. Miraglia has 26 years in the golf business, 20 working with Charlie Staples and the last eight as an owner. The two own Fore Golf, the parent to 13 courses located in Florida, Northern Virginia, Maryland and Ohio.
"We are in an unprecedented acquisition environment as club owners and lenders seek liquidity from these businesses,” Bennison said. “As a cash buyer familiar with most major US markets and able to close expeditiously and without financing, we expect to see a lot of interesting opportunities."
Bennison said they are currently looking at other acquisitions but doesn’t expect anything to close for some time.
He said the purchase price for Feather Sound is undisclosed, but that he is looking for courses that are selling between .75 to 1.3 times gross revenue.
“Most of these courses either have a negative EBITDA or so little that you can’t value them based on it,” he said. "
Investors in the joint venture include Dallas businessmen John Pigott and Bruce Leadbetter, Harold Handelsman, counsel to the Pritzker family of Chicago for 35 years, and Christopher Bancroft, a former Director of Dow Jones & Company.

Bennison said that Staples and Miraglia will spearhead operations and he will focus on business development, seeking out deals.  


It is all such a joke. Different players for another span of time, till they either loose money or take the money and leave. The market grew at a time, when there was money to be spent. Too many courses in Florida attached to developments stripped the good part of the business. As those markets died away with the economy, the grounds began to fade into sand. The economy is still bad and the number of courses are still "out there" like ghost towns waiting for life. Not good sound investments. Without good reasons and money to show, the game goes on until the next round of buyers.

A good group of guys that will do really well! The investor group found the best.

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