In one 30-minute national nightly newscast, viewers were exposed to three reports that touched on noteworthy shifts in how prominent club and resort properties are now owned, operated, marketed and perceived.
In the course of one 30-minute national nightly newscast recently, viewers were exposed to three reports that touched on noteworthy shifts we’ve seen in how prominent club and resort properties are now owned, operated, marketed and perceived in the post-recession environment.
The first report, not surprisingly, had to do with Donald Trump. But beyond the usual political coverage that’s now a daily occurrence, on this day Trump was in Scotland for the grand reopening of the Turnberry resort property that he bought in 2014. The event coincided with the shock waves being felt from the “Brexit” vote, and of course Trump generated controversy by saying that Britain’s secession from the European Union would help bring people back to Turnberry. But the report also showed a jubilant Turnberry staff wearing “Make Turnberry Great Again” caps—and it can only be a good thing when reports about Trump’s ever-growing involvement in our industry include reminders about the employment and economic impact that every golf-, club- and resort-related enterprise provides.
The next report showed some of the first footage of how The Greenbrier resort property had been overrun, along with the town of White Sulphur Springs, by the devastating flooding in West Virginia. This was certainly not the type of exposure envisioned for The Greenbrier since it was purchased by another of the new breed of club/resort owners who saw opportunity in recent years to revive distressed properties. In this case, the owner is Jim Justice, who made his fortune in the coal business and is now running for governor of West Virginia—and is every bit as colorful (some would use other terms) of a figure as Trump. Just a few weeks before the flooding, I had attended a media event for The Greenbrier Classic PGA Tour championship (now cancelled in the wake of the damage that the area, and resort, has suffered), and got an opportunity to see Justice in action himself, along with a first-hand look at how The Greenbrier has been revived under his ownership. It is definitely disconcerting to now see the neon glow of a casino in the lower level of The Greenbrier’s historic grand hotel, along with all of the other new retail shops and dining venues that are markedly different from what the resort was once known for. But there’s no denying that the property is looking its best again and that its staff has been re-energized. And while Justice also has his detractors, he too deserves credit for the determined and enthusiastic leadership he has displayed in taking his part of the golf and resort business to notable new levels (soon to include the Oakhurst golf course at The Greenbrier Sporting Club, designed by the all-star quartet of Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Lee Trevino). There’s little doubt that Justice will see The Greenbrier through this latest challenge and continue to position it as an important contributor to West Virginia’s image and economy.
The newscast ended with a report on the massive sinkhole that opened up near the Top of the Rock golf course at Missouri’s Big Cedar Lodge resort. While the resort’s owner, Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris, usually shuns the limelight, he was happy to lead a tour of the gaping new canyon, which he immediately saw as another unique attraction for his property. This was the most striking image of all to show how new owners have brought refreshing new vision and energy to our industry.