The buyer is Thomas O'Malley, chairman of Switzerland-based refiner Petroplus. He recently bought the nearby Evergreen and Palm Cove golf clubs. Also bidding on the Ironhorse property were Professional Golf Acquisition Inc. and a group headed by Glenn Straub, owner of Palm Beach Polo Golf & Country Club.
The 113-acre club, which includes 324 homes, had filed for bankruptcy protection in January. At the time, O'Malley agreed to pay $2.4 million for the property -- a price rejected by lender Wachovia Bank as too low, according to the newspaper.
In court papers, the investment bank's mortgage arm says Sawgrass owner RQB Resort now owes Goldman Sachs some $196 million, which is more than the property is worth. Having failed to demonstrate it will pay off its loans, "The debtors have thus failed to show that an effective reorganization is possible within any reasonable period of time," the Journal quotes Goldman Sachs as declaring.
RQP, which bought the resort for $220 million in 2006, hasn't made a payment since last August, according to the paper. It filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March.
The 65-acre Sawgrass resort overlooks the Pete Dye-desgined TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course, home to the famous island-green 17th hole. Guests can play on six other affiliated area courses.
The buyer is a Seattle investment company called Washington Holdings. It is acquiring the troubled Orange County, Calif., resort and its Monarch Bay Golf Links (pictured) for $235 million in cash and debt, the paper says. That's more than some had expected. A few months ago, the Times says, it had quoted a real estate expert saying the place might change hands for $100 million.
A positive sign for the hospitality industry ... ? Perhaps. Or perhaps not. Craig Wrench, CEO of Washington Holdings, doesn't sound too bullish. "We're still in a troubled economy," he told the paper, "and we need another six to 12 months or maybe 18 months of recovery to be back where we need to be."