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ClubCorp strikes $265M deal for Sequoia's 50 courses

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Fred Funk at the 17th hole in the Insperity Championship at The Woodlands Country Club. (Photo: Getty Images)

Well, at least someone is investing in the golf industry.

ClubCorp Holdings Inc. on Wednesday announced its intent to buy Sequoia Golf Holdings and its portfolio of 50 courses for $265 million. The deal increases ClubCorp’s list of courses – which now includes The Woodlands Country Club, site of the Champions Tour’s Insperity Invitational – to 209.

“It’s a good thing,” said Mike Hughes, president of the National Golf Course Owners Association, in a Golf Digest report. “There have been several big transactions and that is one of them. It shows there are a lot of people with substantial resources willing to invest in the game. The most important indicator is that when people invest it shows they have a high level of confidence in the industry.”

That said, ClubCorp is the owner and operator of private clubs – the company draws half its revenue from membership dues – and this deal is set against the backdrop of difficult period for public golf. As the Wall Street Journal details:

“Last year, there were about 157 golf courses that closed, the majority of which were public courses that tend to cater to casual golfers. There were 14 course openings. Private facilities accounted for roughly 27 (percent) of the total U.S. golf course market as of late January, but only 4 (percent) of the closings in 2013, according to the National Golf Foundation.”

Speaking to the WSJ, Marc Blatchley, director of membership and marketing for the NGF, points out that the growing number of golf management consolidation deals is a result of overbuilding during golf’s boom years combined with a decrease in participation.

Even though it does nothing to stem the negative tide drowning public golf, Hughes maintained the deal is good for the sport’s economic interests.

“I think the industry needed to hear the news that already existed under the radar screen,” he said.