This morning I’ll be heading to Magna GC to play a round with Stephen Bebis, the founder of Golf Town, for the book I’ve been working on.
A couple of things strike me. One Bebis is in the process of relinquishing control of GT. The company has pretty much been sold to OMERS, who have made a $214-million offer on the income trust. The full story is here.
I have no idea — yet — what effect the sale will have on Bebis. GT is the second big box store the American has created in Canada, and it was a concept I was pretty sure would never fly when I first went to the grand opening of the superstore on Kennedy more than a half decade ago. I was wrong — the concept has pretty much revolutionized golf retail in Canada.
The same can’t be said for Magna GC. A well conditioned member’s course, Magna was all that was discussed when it first opened. Having opened in 2001, I had the chance to play Magna before the members, with then managing director David Kaufman. It was certainly in remarkable condition for a new course and the rumors of sky-high entrance fees in excess of $100,000 were being widely discussed.
But the truth was that, given that it was built on a piece of property behind Magna owner Frank Stronach’s headquarters, Magna was only a good, not great course. Time has pretty much proven that thought correct. The course tends to be ranked by my peers in the 20-30 spots in the country, a touch too high in my mind.
That said, there is no denying Magna’s success in attracting those who wanted a high-end private experience with all the bells and whistles. Those that joined want valet parking and guys walking around with headsets saying “thank you Mr. _____” every six seconds. And they want a guy who cleans your seven iron after a single shot. That’s what they want. And they pay well to get it.
For me, I’d prefer something a little more on the low down. I don’t need all the frills, but then I’m not paying $100K to join a club now, am I?