(Pictured: Old Corkscrew GC)
The diversified corporation with interests in restaurants, sports, entertainment and transportation acquired The Old Collier Golf Club in Naples, Fla. when David Hoffmann, a member, stepped up to buy it after the membership as a whole decided not to. The Hoffmann Family of Cos. then bought Old Corkscrew GC and is also developing a destination resort with golf in Missouri. It is now actively pursuing negotiations to buy three other clubs, and looking for others. “We’re very bullish about the market and the demand for golf,” says industry veteran Iain Mossman, who is now in charge of the new Hoffmann National Golf Division.
The Hoffmann Family of Cos., whose vast holdings range from wineries in Missouri to a trolley service in West Palm Beach, Fla. has found a new line of business: Golf, The Business Observer of Sarasota, Fla. reported.
The family business that seems to have everything now has something new, The Business Observer reported, after buying two existing golf courses in Southwest Florida over the past several months (https://clubandresortbusiness.com/hoffmann-companies-continues-golf-portfolio-buildup-with-old-corkscrew-gc-acquisition/) and starting to build a third in Missouri (https://clubandresortbusiness.com/a-12-hole-golf-course-is-the-latest-project-to-revamp-quiet-missouri-town/). It’s also in negotiations to buy three more, and looking for others.
To oversee the operation, the company has created the Hoffmann National Golf Division and hired professional Iain Mossman, an industry veteran and former South Florida PGA Professional of the Year Award winner, to run it, The Business Observer reported.
Purchasing the courses and launching a new division comes at a time when golf is experiencing a resurgence, The Business Observer reported “It’s growing all over the world. It really is,” said Mossman, 63. “There’s an awful line, and I shouldn’t say it, but I will. COVID has done for the game of golf what Tiger Woods could never do.”
“COVID-19 has been so tragic and so difficult for so many people,” Mossman added. “Yet there are some businesses and industries that have been able to benefit. There’s a tremendous sense of people wanting to be outdoors, to exercise and get away from phones. Literally, it’s been a surge of people coming back into the game and people wanting to learn the game. It’s been wonderful for golf.”
The Hoffmann Family of Cos. made its debut on Florida’s Gulf Coast in Naples, Fla. in 2015 with a $75 million purchase of seven properties and a parking lot, The Business Observer reported It had four employees at the time.
David and Jerrilyn Hoffmann were longtime entrepreneurs and business owners who moved to Naples from their homes in Illinois and Colorado, The Business Observer reported. Little by little, the couple began to buy properties in the area and businesses, eventually creating an empire of sorts that today includes 37 businesses in Florida and employs more than 2,500 people. In total, The Hoffman Family of Cos. now has over 240 total operations worldwide with 6,000 employees, according to its website.
Among the industries it has a hand in are restaurants, sports, entertainment and transportation, The Business Observer reported This includes owning the Hertz Arena and its home hockey team, the Florida Everblades, in Estero, Fla. (Lee County).
The family is also one of the largest private property owners in Naples, with more than 35 properties worth some $500 million, The Business Observer reported
Earlier this year, the company announced it was going back to its roots, acquiring a series of properties and wineries in Augusta, Mo., west of St. Louis, and around nearby Washington, Mo., The Business Observer reported. David and Jerri Hoffmann grew up in Washington, Mo. and own property there, as well as office towers in Clayton, a St. Louis suburb.
All told, the plan is to turn the area into “a destination rivaling the nation’s most prestigious wine regions,” according to the company website—a project that’s grown to $125 million and includes everything from a classic car museum to a boutique hotel, The Business Observer reported.
And to add golf to the plans for a top-shelf tourist destination, the company is building a 12-hole championship Rees Jones Golf Course-designed course on the site.
Getting into the golf business was opportunistic more than strategic, The Business Observer reported. “I don’t think when the year began, Mr. Hoffmann thought he would be the owner of the Old Collier Golf Club. But that’s the way it turned out,” Mossman said. “And so I think it prompted him to start thinking about the golf industry.”
The Old Collier Golf Club sits on about 400 acres on U.S. 41 in North Naples, The Business Observer reported. The club was founded about 20 years ago by the Collier family.
When the family decided to sell, it approached club members who, because of the way the membership was structured, had the right of first offer to buy the club, The Business Observer reported That’s not an unusual arrangement for private clubs, said Mossman, who was Old Collier’s General Manager for 14 years before leaving to build and manage the Aurora International Golf Club in the Caribbean.
But “as you can imagine, getting 250 members to agree on everything is not always the easiest,” Mossman added.
David Hoffmann was one of those members, The Business Observer reported He eventually put in an offer and the members voted in favor of it, saying they liked the continuance of a family-owned club rather than a member-owned club.
The company did not disclose the sales price and Collier County property records, through late November, didn’t reflect the transaction, The Business Observer reported
Meanwhile, plans were underway to build the course in Missouri. Mossman told The Business Observer that he hasn’t seen that property yet, but likes the idea of a 12-hole course as opposed to 18, because it harkens back to the early history of golf as it was played in his native Scotland (the first British Open Championship, played in 1860 at the Prestwick Golf Club in Scotland, was played on a 12-hole course.)
“Twelve holes has a wonderful history in the game,” Mossman said. “And today it’s more relevant than ever because of time constraints and land, water constraints. Twelve holes, I think, you’re going to see more of.”
And after buying Old Collier GC, Hoffmann turned his attention to the Old Corkscrew Golf Club in Estero, which features a 7,400-yard, Jack Nicklaus Signature Design course. Company officials declined to disclose the sale price of that course as well, The Business Observer reported.
Geoff Lofstead, Executive Director of the South Florida PGA, told The Business Observer that Old Collier has a stellar reputation and is known for having some of the best conditions and services, not just in the state but nationwide. Old Corkscrew, a public course, is similarly well-regarded and is the kind of place people want to play whenever they get an opportunity.
But what may give the Hoffmann endeavour its biggest boost is the people involved, Lofstead added.
Mossman’s 1990 PGA Professional of the Year Award is a reflection of his professionalism, experience and the respect he’s earned over the years, The Business Observer reported. That award, Lofstead said, is the highest honor for a golf professional, voted on by peers. To receive it, he added, means a person is at the top of the profession.
And Hoffmann actually has two PGA Professional of the Year Award winners on the Old Collier staff, The Business Observerreported, because Steve Waugh, the club’s current General Manager, was the 2021 recipient of the award.
“It’s pretty cool to have two in the same family, so to speak, because only 42 PGA professionals in South Florida have ever won that award,” Lofstead said. “And two of them work for Mr. Hoffmann.”
As he considered buying Old Corkscrew, Hoffmann called Mossman, who had left Naples and was working in the Caribbean, and coaxed him back, The Business Observer reported. Mossman, who originally came to the U.S. in 1979, has a long history of running clubs, including Piping Rock Golf Club in New York, Pelican’s Nest Golf Club in Bonita Springs, Fla. and the Bighorn Golf Club in Palm Desert, Calif..
The golf division will fit within the larger Hoffman Family of Cos. just fine, Mossman told The Business Observer, because the corporate philosophy has always been to “identify great businesses and buy them to try to make them a little bit better.”
Hoffmann, who was not available to comment on The Business Observer’s latest story, told the publication in 2019 that the goal for his company is to recoup its investment in a business within five years and to make sure the acquired businesses will be around for a while. “We look at how long this company is going to be around, and if 10 years from now, is it going to be disrupted by technology,” he said at that time.
That’s not a big concern in golf, where the playing experience and club service is paramount, Mossman told The Business Observer. That approach doesn’t change when running a private or public club, he noted.
The focus for the properties acquired and developed by The Hoffman Family of Cos. will be on the playing experience, which means making sure the conditions on the courses and in the clubhouses are right, Mossman added. And there will also be a push to grow. Soon after he returned to Naples, he told The Business Observer, “we immediately started looking at other acquisitions.”
The company is currently negotiating to buy three other clubs, two of them in Florida, and looking for others, The Business Observer reported. “We’re very bullish,” Mossman says, “about the market and the demand for golf.”