RBC Heritage

Harbour Town Golf Links

The Loop

Bobby Ginn's crumbling empire

May 24, 2009

It was not so long ago that Bobby Ginn was among the heaviest hitters in golf, his company sponsoring events on the PGA, LPGA and Champions tours and developing a string of golf communities in Florida.

Those were heady days that came to a crashing halt when the real estate market went bust. The New York Times' Geraldine Fabrikant reports on Ginn's crumbling empire. She writes:

"This 1,900-acre property, called Bella Collina, was designed to hold 800 homes. Today, only 48 houses dot the landscape, and just three are occupied. The clubhouse, though open, is eerily quiet, and a promised swimming pool and equestrian center have yet to be built.

"Bella Collina, the brainchild of Robert Edward Ginn III, looks like a ghost town. So does Tesoro, another resort opened by Mr. Ginn near Port St. Lucie, where just 150 houses sit on 900 lots. And the Conservatory in Palm Coast, also from Mr. Ginn, is even more barren: 335 out of 340 lots are empty."

Tesoro was host to a PGA Tour event, the Ginn sur Mer Classic, in 2007. The event was played at the Ginn Hammock Beach Resort in 2008, then was canceled.

Ginn, nonetheless, remains oddly optimistic.

"My belief is that when the depression ends, there will be a pent-up demand for happiness," he tells Fabrikant. Once the economy reverses course, Ginn will be "ready to sell properties in trophy locations," he says.

-- John Strege