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BC Golf Boom Ending?

The Globe’s Lorne Rubenstein had an interesting story in the paper on Wednesday about the golf course in the interior of BC that was to be co-designed by Tom McBroom and Annika Sorenstam. Turns out the project, which had been much discussed, is now on hold, faced with push-back from local residents and a slowing real estate market.

The course, near Rossland, BC, was supposed to be going forward, but now appears stalled:

The planned course is in the Kootenays and is meant to be part of the Red Mountain Resort. Construction was going to start next spring, with an expected opening in 2010. But about 900 residents in the area, out of a total of 3,500, have signed two petitions against the course because some of the holes would be in or near the Topping Creek watershed, which is the main source of water for Rossland.

Those protest led the CEO of Red Mountain Ventures, the man in charge of the golf course project, to reconsider:

Howard Katkov, the president and chief executive officer of Red Mountain Ventures, and by all accounts a concerned resident who wants to do what’s right for the area, said in a speech at a council meeting on July 14 “anybody who knows anything about golf courses … look, I will tell you right now, it is not cost-practical.”

Katkov, who suspended the project then, was referring to the costs, of up to $7-million before groundbreaking, associated with developing a course on the original site, and of building a reservoir to store irrigation water. Charlton said that other costs include moving the city’s potable-water intakes on the creek, which flows through the proposed golf course area.

McBroom, apparently, has been in BC trying to find a solution that satisfies all involved, though that sounds unlikely given the push back from the community.

What does this mean for golf development in the interior of BC? I’ve long thought the golf boom – a half dozen courses have opened in the region in the past year, with several more coming online soon – would end once the real estate bubble burst. The courses that are late to the party – or not very good (see The Rise) – will struggle to attract interested buyers, and in turn will face an uphill climb, since many of them will simply not have enough public play to support their construction costs or ongoing budgets.

Is that Red Mountain? Hard to say for sure – but that’s where it stands at the moment.

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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.

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