The UK golf market got off to a steady start at the beginning of 2003 with FPDSavills being involved in a series of transactions during the first 10 months of the year. Reasons for both sales and lettings have included retirement, financial pressure, partnership split or business re-structuring. Recent sales of golf properties handled by FPDSavills during this period have included:
Lambourne Golf Club, Berkshire – a well located ‘M25 corridor‘ 18 hole golf course of 6771 yards, par 72 with a substantial clubhouse (1400 sq m). Sold confidentially to a corporate buyer.
Merrist Wood Golf Club, Guildford – a freehold 18-hole golf course and clubhouse. The freehold interest was sold on an investment basis, having been let by FPDSavills on behalf of Merrist Wood College in 2001 to Essex Golf Centres Limited. The leasehold interest was also purchased and the business is now operating on a freehold proprietary basis.
North Weald Golf Club, Essex – a freehold 18-hole 6,377 yards (par 71) golf course, 845 square metre clubhouse with function facilities, greenkeeper’s buildings, Essex Barn and health club building (let). The sale arose as a result of financial pressures and, following a closing date for bids, the property was sold close to the guide price of £1.5million
Four Marks Golf Course, Hampshire – under offer following a closing date for bids. The property, which is leasehold, is a 9-hole golf course with clubhouse.
Golf course properties presently available on the open market include Dolgellau Golf Course, West Wales – an established 9-hole golf course with clubhouse. Available at a guide of £325,000.
Falmouth Golf Course, Cornwall – a spectacular 18-hole cliff top golf course overlooking the English Channel. The freehold interest is under offer in excess of the guide price of £1.5million.
The North Golf Course, Wychwood Park, Cheshire – a recently developed golf course extending to 6,550 yards (par 72). The golf course is located close to a major development including a conference centre, 390 executive homes and a further championship golf course. The North Golf Course surrounds an area designated for a further 305 homes. It is offered to the market at a guide price of £1.25million.
Leasing – A Popular Alternative
In the last 5 years leasing of either land or built golf courses have become a popular option for land owners/golf range/course operators. Ground leases are popular with landowners, as they can provide an enhanced income when compared to agricultural use, whilst retaining long term ownership and control. They also enable golf operators to limit outlay on the land, leaving funds for building the facility itself. Care is needed on the part of the golf operator to ensure that money spent on the development provides a sufficiently good return on capital. This depends not only on the length of the lease but also its rent and other provisions.dsavills.com
Leasing is a popular alternative for landowner/developers who have built a golf facility but wish to hand over day-to-day management to a specialist golf operator.
A recent example of this is the letting of Stonebridge Golf Centre near Birmingham which comprises an 18-hole golf course with modern clubhouse, a 21-bay floodlit driving range and planning permission for an extra 9-holes on adjoining land. The property was developed in 1996 and subsequently operated by the landowners estate company. FPDSavills offered the property privately to the letting market in June 2003 and concluded a lease to a leisure and golf developer, in September.
Predictions for 2004
- A steady market backed by a stable UK economy and low interest rates.
- Fewer “forced sales” following a good summer trading period in 2003.
- More interest from lifestyle buyers competing with commercial buyers.
- More interest from the larger corporate buyers following a period of consolidation in 2002/2003.
- Generally stable supply/demand for facilities with a limited number of new golfers but few new golf developments.
- Continuing increase in ancillary offers such as gym, pool, function rooms, meeting rooms etc.