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Turmoil at Lora Bay; Humber Valley Sold; Niagara-on-the-Lake GC in Receivership

Okay, no Tiger Woods content in this one.

One of the more intriguing courses to open in Ontario in the last few years, and once T&L’s Best New Golf Course in Canada, the Raven at Lora Bay is facing some distress amind concerns about residential real estate that the project is based on. You’ll recall Lora Bay was created by a private developer, sold to Intrawest and the bought back by the developer. The course, designed by Thomas McBroom and Tom Lehman, is surprisingly strong and was run well by Jeff Palmer, a vibrant personality who focused on customer service.

Yesterday I received a note from Palmer saying he had been let go by the club that has about 200 members and is open to the public. The club’s general manager departed earlier this year. Palmer wasn’t sure what the future of Lora Bay was, as heavy investments in infrastructure had failed to spur on housing sales. Speculation is the whole project is for sale.

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Infrastructure costs are what brought down Humber Valley Resort near Deer Lake, Newfoundland, which included a really strong Doug Carrick golf course. The project went into receivership last year and was run as a public facility this summer while a buyer was sought. Reports out of the province say a deal has been struck for someone to take over the facility, with Gary Oke, who ran the course this year, having been approached by “an anonymous group,” to run the course in 2010. The names of the buyers have not been disclosed, other than to note that original owner Brian Dobbin isn’t involved. The full story can be found here.

Interestingly, Oke seemed to find a market in the area, one which a report from Global Golf Advisors said wasn’t out there:

We had an open-door policy with reasonable fees and it wasnt the exclusive club it was before, said Oke. ËœThat led to a lot more traffic this season than the course had in recent years. I think the chalet and homeowners living on the resort appreciated that.

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Finally, Niagara-on-the-Lake GC, the oldest in North America, has gone into receivership:

North America’s oldest golf club will close for the winter, but it will open again in spring, says an optimistic John Wiens.

The Wiens family, former owners of the Prince of Wales Hotel, have a long-standing and well-earned reputation in town, in the hospitality industry and as community volunteers, but have not been immune to the difficulties of weathering what John refers to as the “perfect storm.”

The sagging economy, passport and bridge issues and a strong Canadian dollar creating a downturn in the number of American visitors to town, along with a drop in tourism in general have put Riverbend Inn on the market and the NOTL Golf Club in “voluntary receivership,” says Wiens.

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

1 CommentLeave a comment

  • We will be hearing more of this over the off season with some private courses sounding stressed. As if courses don’t have enough to worry about, HST is bearing down on all of us.

    Members who fight over annual 2-3% increases are just gonna love the 8% increase.

    Wonder if we will see a rush of initiation specials before implementation day.

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