Arnold Palmer Golf Management has leapt to the forefront of golf’s emerging replica course market with its acquisition of the first two Tour 18 golf properties in Texas and development joint venture with Tour 18 Inc., the standard-setting developer of these famed resorts.
With layouts in Humble (outside Houston) and Flower Mound (between Dallas and Fort Worth), Tour 18 has pioneered the painstaking process of reproducing famous American holes, then linking them together to form a wholly distinct golf experience. Palmer Golf’s plan for the two Tour 18 resorts includes substantial capital investment at each course, while the joint venture calls for the development of additional replica properties nationwide.
“Tour 18 is the originator and clear leader in the young-but-growing replica golf course business,” says Peter Nanula, Palmer Golf’s president and chief executive officer. “Golfers love the unique experience at Tour 18 facilities. We intend to invest further in their replica methodology and bring our brand of quality and service to what we consider museums of golf history, tradition and excellence.”
“Our founder, Arnold Palmer, has always stood for tradition; he’s created and upheld a great deal of it himself. We all believe the history and tradition of America’s great golf courses must be preserved in a faithful way. Replica courses are sprouting up all over, but we are committed to creating the most authentic, most accurate and most respectful shrines to these historic golf holes,” said Nanula.
The Tour 18 approach to replication is unique. Using aerial photography and CAD technology, Tour 18 is able to reproduce golf holes with remarkable accuracy. The results are uncanny homages to some of America’s most storied golf holes. Indeed, Tour 18 Dallas is ranked among the state’s Top 10 courses, while Tour 18 Houston is counted among the Top 20.
The Tour 18 brand has also demonstrated its power in adding value to adjacent real estate. The residential development at Tour 18 Dallas, for example, has achieved lot and home premiums far in excess of competing golf communities and absorption rates have surprised even the Tour 18 developers. “We are currently evaluating sites in several major cities,” said Dennis Wilkerson, founder of Tour 18. “And, our new joint venture with Palmer Golf will seek to capitalize on our adjacent real estate opportunities as well.”
The Tour 18 brand has created a new market for golfers seeking to follow in the footsteps of golf legends by replaying the drama that has unfolded at America’s most storied courses. “Our goal is to grow and strengthen the Tour 18 brand,” said Joe Redling, chief operating officer of Palmer Golf.
“We will retain the existing management at both Tour 18 courses because they have done such an outstanding job,” said Redling. “We view these courses as shrines to great golf. Accordingly, we will provide both Tour 18 facilities with additional resources — capital improvements, pace-of-play innovations and maintenance enhancements — to raise the experience to an even higher level.”
“The two Tour 18 facilities have also established themselves as corporate-outing favorites in the Dallas and Houston markets,” said Jeff Levine, Palmer Golf’s regional manager. “That said, we won’t rest on our laurels. We plan to enhance the corporate experience at Tour 18 with even better service and new amenities like GPS yardage and messaging systems.”
With more than 30 branded facilities across the country, Palmer has taken great care to preserve and promote the history of each club, while further extolling the grand traditions of golf. In keeping with this commitment, Palmer Golf will create historical displays in each Tour 18 clubhouse, providing educational tours of each replicated hole via books, memorabilia, merchandise, video and CD-ROM.
Armed with the strongest brand name in golf, Arnold Palmer Golf Management specializes in this sort of joint venture. “After interviewing all the top management companies, Palmer Golf stood out as the one company that could deliver and actually enhance our existing concept — with both its capital and management expertise. They understand the unique appeal of the concept and are the best in the business at service and using proven brand marketing techniques to drive the top-line. They are committed to staying true to the original concept,” said Wilkerson.