Archive for September, 2009

In the last few postings we have been discussing the world of municipal golf, and what is the clear emerging trend toward privatization of municipal golf courses. In my next few postings I am going to shift over to a discussion about another trend I see emerging in my consulting practice – municipalities acquiring privately-owned golf facilities and converting them to municipal golf courses. This trend has been occurring for several reasons, the most notable of which is the continuing tough market environment for privately-owned golf courses and their inability to sell to another private entity. As a result, private owners look to local government as a place to sell, along with a threat to “close the golf course” or “convert it to another use.” Often, the municipality is enticed into taking over the property as method to preserve open space, green space or recreation assets within the community, as opposed to a new revenue source.

As with any acquisition venture, there are pitfalls and problems with this form of acquisition, from the perspective of both the municipality and the private owner. As I travel the country consulting with both municipalities and golf course owners, I am often asked if these proposed acquisitions are a good idea. Will this be a drag on our general fund? How can we finance this acquisition? What is this golf course worth? Can we make money taking over an existing private golf course? Can the local government take my golf course in eminent domain? What will happen to my employees?

These are among the most common questions posed in my dealings with proposed municipal acquisitions of private golf courses, and often are the most difficult to answer without appropriate analysis and due diligence. The lack of appropriate due diligence, by both parties, is often the most common cause for disaster scenarios in muni golf acquisitions.  In the coming postings this Fall, I will be drawing on my expertise and experience to discuss the state of municipal golf acquisitions and to offer ideas on how to make this idea work for both parties and function as a way to grow municipal golf in lieu of developing new golf courses.

Thanks for your attention. I sincerely hope the information is useful. In the next postings we will start to discuss issues related to municipal acquisition of privately-owned golf courses in light of new economic realities of 2009 and beyond.

See you down the road (and at NRPA).

Richard Singer

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