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February 2023

Golf Course Realty Market Ends Year with Major Dealmaking

By Scott Kauffman

Now that 2022 is in the rearview real estate mirror, the new year seems poised for another positive period of golf-related growth – both on the traditional and growing alternative golf facility front.

And macro-economic uncertainty notwithstanding, two aspects of the golf property market are particularly as relevant as ever. For starters, so-called smart money remains bullish on the golf course asset class and high-profile properties continue to have strong demand from investors.
At least that’s one way to sum up the business, based on several major golf realty finance deals and transactions that transpired in late 2022.

The most recent of these blockbuster golf business deals was Century Golf Partners’s acquisition of the 36-hole Four Seasons Golf & Sports Club of Las Colinas, in Dallas, including the storied TPC of Las Colinas Course that hosted the PGA Tour’s Byron Nelson Championship for 35 years and featured Tiger Woods, Fred Couples, Ben Crenshaw and Payne Stewart among its past champions.
 
The other recent transaction that portends to golf continuing to be a highly attractive target by big-name private equity groups and/or Wall Street firms was the mid-October announcement by Arcis Golf that Atairos acquired a “substantial ownership position” in Arcis and plans to support the company’s further expansion as a course owner/operator, as well as Arcis’s continued enhancements at its many award-winning private club amenities.

Meanwhile, funds managed by affiliates of Fortress Investment Group LLC will maintain a significant ownership stake in the company, according to Arcis founder/chief executive officer Blake Walker, whose company now counts 60 private, resort and daily-fee clubs in 13 states.

While Dallas-based Arcis Golf was strengthening its finance picture with Atairos, Century Golf, another leading Dallas-based owner/operator, was closing on its second major resort acquisition with South Korean investment partner HKI America. Three years ago, Century Golf, which now owns and/or operates close to 50 courses nationwide, teamed up with an HKI affiliate to purchase the iconic PGA West portfolio, comprising six courses in La Quinta, Calif., including the famed Stadium Course designed by the late Pete Dye.

HKI America and its affiliates, meanwhile, quietly have become one of the largest course owners themselves, with 26 facilities to their credit, along with distributorships for Baroness turf maintenance equipment and Yamaha golf carts.

In addition to the Four Seasons courses, Century Golf and HKI also acquired a massive 176,000 square-foot sports clubhouse with indoor tennis, pool, fitness studios, jogging track, basketball and racquetball courts, fully-amenitized locker rooms and various dining options.

A recently renovated driving range and golf teaching facility, along with new pickleball courts, further enhance the club’s appeal. According to Century Golf, the Dallas-based company is the managing partner in the deal and the club will be operated by Century Golf’s Arnold Palmer Golf Management brand.

“The club’s legendary history as the host site of the Byron Nelson, award-winning golf courses, state-of-the-art sports facilities and thriving location makes this one of the premier clubs in Dallas, and we are grateful for the members’ support to acquire the Club,” Century Golf founding partner/chief executive officer Jim Hinckley said Dec. 21.

The Four Seasons club and courses are part of the 12,000-acre Las Colinas community and sit alongside the 431-room Four Seasons Resort Dallas at Las Colinas. The resort is in the process of undertaking a major renovation and being rebranded as a Ritz-Carlton, and Century Golf intends to work closely with the resort hotel’s new ownership group.

“We are looking forward to working with the sports club’s talented team to build on the club’s marquee reputation and deliver extraordinary experiences for our members and guests to enjoy,” said Century Golf partner/chief operating officer Doug Howe.

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