Humber Valley Resort Goes Bust

According to news reports that I confirmed this morning, Humber Valley Resort, with its terrific Doug Carrick-designed golf course, will go into bankruptcy after being unable to secure a working arrangement with a major hotel or government support.

I wonder if the course and resort is a victim of timing. It was only two years ago that it held a first ministers meeting, and the likes of Ralph Klein took to the fairways. Newfoundland Premier Danny Williams asked me about it last year when I was interviewing him for my Going for the Green book, and said he felt the government would have to step in if the resort faltered. Humber Valley was “world class,” he said and it would make the province look poorly if it failed. Perhaps the current economic downturn — and the falling price of oil — changed the premier’s mind.

Regardless, this is a loss for Canadian golf. The course is arguably the best thing Carrick has done — and received numerous accolades from American and Canadian media alike. Its 10th hole — with a remarkable plunging tee shot — was surely among the most breathtaking in all of Canada. My review of the course is here.

Could Humber Valley become one of Canada’s most fabled NLE (no longer exists, for those architecture aficianados)? That’s a possibility if no one is willing to take the course and resort out of bankruptcy. Letting the course sit unattended next year would likely mean it would need hundreds of thousands of dollars in repairs, making one wonder whether a buyer could be found. Perhaps the bankruptcy trustee will see fit to maintain a skeleton crew to maintain the course — but that’s far from certain.

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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.

7 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Robert, my gut is telling me this could be the start of may course closings. Given the economic malaise it’s logical to assume that discretionary spending on travel, corporate tournaments and frequency of play by causal golfers will decrease and many courses are going to feel the pain. In particular, the high end courses will be the first to face the problem. On a positive note there will likely be some good green fee deals in 09.

  • This was a real estate development, if I’m not mistaken. It was also likely built on a mountain of debt (most real estate deals/developments are). I assume the creditors won’t let it just rot and fall appart. If they do, the land will be worth whatever the going rate for land in Newfoundland is. They will have to maintain it or sell it at a major markdown. I suspect there is likely only one buyer (the Province) and it will be a cat and mouse game between the banks threatening to shut everything down and the province trying to pick it up for cents on the dollar.

  • I don’t feel Humber Valley is related to the present economic problems that will affect many other course developments. Humber Valley probably didn’t spend a cent on a feasibility
    study, and if they did they should the ass off whoever did it!
    Pebble Beach would not survive in that location. And I love NFLD.

  • I agree with the previous reply.

    I was there in August 2007 on a lovely Saturday afternoon, did not play as we were not on a golf holiday. I could have counted the total golfers on two hands, in a half hour one group teed off.

    I understand there were 8000 rounds played in 2008 far short of the number required to support the course.

    In the planning stage I would like to know how many rounds were used to figure out the financial aspects of the golf side of the developement.

    That aside it is a beautiful layout and I was salvitating to hit one ball off the 10th tee.

  • Humber Valley is a resort with numerous homes, roads, buildings and other amenities. The golf course represents a TINY fraction of the money that was spent on the resort. The financial troubles that have led to them filing for bankrupcy have nothing to do with the golf course and everything to do with much larger issues. Most golf courses developed today are done as loss leaders for housing or resort developments, they are simply amenities used to raise the value and desirability of the realestate. Maybe Gary and Netz should take the proceeds they have made from being such amazing developers and invest a few hundred million in creating their own resort development.

  • Sorry Gary, but using your logic a place like Bandon Dunes would have likely flunked the feasibility test as well. My understanding is that this place even has homesites built. Some people bought into the vision. There’s got to be a price/plan where this makes sense – my guess is, however, that it’s likely to be cents on the dollar. If I were the province and knew I was the only serious buyer, I’d go to the creditors and make them an offer. Politically, no one gets a bail out. The lenders take a huge rightdown and the developer gets zip. In this market, the ceditors will be faced with the offer vs. getting nothing. The province has the financial means to weather the downturn and in 5 to 10 years my guess is they come out on top.

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