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Last Update :12/29/2016

Fore! A year’s worth of Richmond golf news

Fore! A year’s worth of Richmond golf news

MICHAEL SCHWARTZ DECEMBER 29, 2016 

BizSense loves covering the local golf industry and 2016 gave us plenty to report.

One of the first big local golf stories of the year came in the spring, when word began to spread that Topgolf, a fast-growing Texas-based chain of high-tech driving ranges was on the hunt for a site in the region. BizSense was the first to report that the company was considering Richmond in its expansion plans. Details were scant at the time and they still are, with a Topgolf spokesperson saying earlier this month that there were no updates on the company’s plans for a potential site in Richmond.

A few weeks later in May, Henrico County-based Integrated Business Systems – whose bread and butter is selling software to golf courses – was acquired by PGA Tour affiliate EZLinks Golf. Combined, the two companies’ products and services touch thousands of golf courses around the country, including municipal, private, semi-private and resort courses. And the deal kept IBS’s 85 employees intact.

Springtime is also when things at River’s Bend Golf Club in Chester took an interesting turn and set off a series of stories throughout the year. The long-struggling course finally waved the flag and shut down, unable to combat its overgrown condition. But its riverfront acreage drew in several suitors who were keen on either developing the land or conserving it, leaving various stakeholders with big decisions to make. A Charlottesville developer eventually swooped in and put the land under contract, prompting the course’s noteholder to foreclose to pave the way toward a deal. As of press time, the transaction had yet to close, so 2017 could bring a change in ownership if all goes as planned..

The same Charlottesville businessman that’s attempting to buy River’s Bend also put Royal Dominion Golf Club in Goochland County under contract. There’s no word yet on how that deal is coming along.

In a deal that did close, The Crossings Golf Club in Henrico County sold to a Charles City businessman in August for $1.75 million. It marked the second time the course had sold in two years and the fourth time it changed hands since 2002.

Local golf courses also felt the heat of what seemed like an endless summer during 2016. An extended wave of heat, humidity and few, but fast moving summer rain storms hit local greens hard and forced more than a handful of area courses to employ tactics to minimize foot traffic by limiting play, shutting down individual holes and in some cases shutting entire courses down for days at a time to give the turf a breather.

Those arid conditions compounded the ongoing trend that many courses are trying to combat: an apparent declining interest in traditional rounds of golf. That prompted a few local courses to get creative in their efforts to draw crowds by introducing increasingly popular gimmicks including a new way of speeding around the course and a golf-lacrosse hybrid.

Downward trends be damned, Magnolia Green Golf Club in October teed off a wave of upgrades including $10 million of construction for a new golf clubhouse and aquatic center. It’s another big step for a course that was finally made whole in 2015 when its owner completed its second nine holes after the recession left it half-built.

Closing out the year was the biggest event Richmond golf has seen in decades, with the PGA Tour Champions hosting the first of at least four annual playoff tournaments at Country Club of Virginia’s James River Course. BizSense was onsite during the weekend and caught up with the head of the tour to learn about what it took to pull off this sort of event. It drew huge crowds, big local sponsors and built up momentum for its return to CCV next fall.

POSTED IN » NewsSports & RecreationTop News

About the author: Michael SchwartzView all posts by Michael Schwartz

Michael Schwartz is the BizSense editor and covers banking, law, M&A and other topics. Please send news tips to Michael@richmondbizsense.com or call (804) 855-1037.



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