Presumably those options include a sale of the Georgia-based luxury resort, which spent more than $500 million on a renovation only to see the economy crumble. The article doesn't name the investment bank.
The resort said the announcement will not affect the Cloister or the Sea Island Lodge or its golf courses, which remain open. The Atlanta Business Chronice article, linked above, has a lot of good background on the resort's difficult finances.
No surprise, the last 18 months have been a lousy period for all concerned. As Cliffs founder Jim Anthony tells the paper, "Our timing could not have been worse."
He seems to be talking about the real estate market, though one could easily assume Anthony (pictured, with that golf course designer guy) meant his decision to hire Woods.
A local real estate broker tells the paper, "I'm sure the Cliffs will probably change their marketing focus now." Or will it? As the Journal notes, Woods remains on advertising billboards for the Cliffs development. He also continues to appear in a video on the Cliffs web site. "With a wife and two kids, your perspective in life changes," he says. "I want to come up here as often as I possibly can."
The club halted construction on its first course, a Tom Doak design known as Wicked Pony, back in 2007. Only nine holes were complete. Its bank withdrew its commitment back then and the developers have been unable to line up new financing.
Project manager Chris Pippin sounds like he's doing his best not to get discouraged. “We still continue to have a lot of faith in the local real estate market and national real estate market,” he told the paper. “I think the problem is more with the credit and capital markets than in the real estate market.”
He quotes Joe Webster, who developed and manages the Dye Preserve in Jupiter, Fla., as saying: "Most clubs that are open for dinner at night are losing seven figures on their food and beverage operations."
Dye Preserve is one of four newish high-end clubs cited by Newport for their "understated" clubhouses. The others are Whisper Rock in Arizona, Chechessee Creek Club in South Carolina (pictured) and Dallas National.
Webster runs some thought-provoking numbers for Newport. Quoting from his article:
"Mr. Webster said that a typical golf club with 300 members might spend $1.5 million a year on course maintenance, or $5,000 per member. 'Everything you pay in dues above that is basically so you can have lunch,' he said. Lunch is his shorthand for the cost of supporting a kitchen, other services such as the locker rooms, and clubhouse staff -- essentially, all the non-golf amenities that a club offers.
"Dues at Dye Preserve, which has a 15,000 square-foot clubhouse (and is not open for dinner), are $9,000 a year. 'So that's $4,000 for lunch,' he said. A nearby club in Jupiter, with a 50,000-square-foot clubhouse plus a pool and tennis, charges $21,000 in dues. 'So those members are paying $16,000 to eat and for the other stuff,' he said. Yet another club in the area, built in the go-go 1990s as a real-estate play, has a 100,000-square-foot clubhouse and is operating under bankruptcy protection."
The buyer would be the Meyer family, which already owns the other half of the club and which agreed to cover Stanford's share of its operating deficit. (Last year the operating deficit amounted to $1.4 million.)
The article quotes an adviser from real estate firm CB Ellis as saying "most golf courses have lost 30 percent to 50 percent of their value since 2007."
Stanford has been accused of defrauding investors of $7 billion through the sale of bogus certificates of deposit, charges he denies. Bloomberg says Stanford has fought the sale of his assets before his trial, which is set to begin in January 2011.
David Manchester, a non-golfer, tells KHOU TV that the community's developer added the $60 annual charge to benefit Houston National Golf Club, a 27-hole facility operated by the same developer, Land Tejas. (That's the clubhouse, at right.)
“There are some areas of the budget that just don’t pass the smell test,” Manchester told the TV station. “This money is supposed to be used for maintenance and upkeep of the community.” An attorney for the homeowners association said he hadn't seen the complaint and couldn't comment.