IN late June 2008, a week after he astonished the golf world by winning the United States Open while grimacing in pain on a torn left knee, Tiger Woods traveled to a craggy chunk of land on the Baja Peninsula in Mexico. It was a lunarlike landscape of dirt and rock, with an inactive volcano in the background. For several hours, he hobbled over the terrain, discussing with developers his vision for the golf course he would build there, while waves from the Pacific crashed onto the shoreline below. His knee, said one companion, rattled like tools in a tool box.
Mr. Woods would soon undergo surgery that would shut down his season, but no matter: the Tiger legend was steaming ahead, and the fall from grace that would follow was unthinkable then. His heroic performance in the Open had enhanced his stature as perhaps the greatest player ever. It was his 14th major championship, putting him only four behind Jack Nicklaus’s 18, the singular goal that Mr. Woods had been pursuing since he turned pro in 1996. His earnings from golf and endorsements had made him wealthy beyond imagination.
Now he was turning his attention to a new challenge, his course design business, one that would extend his brand, bring him untold more millions and leave his permanent imprint on the game he seemed to have mastered so easily.
The Baja course, called Punta Brava, was Mr. Woods’s third design. With its breathtaking landscape, it was easy to envision it rivaling Pebble Beach and establishing his legacy as an architect at age 32. At the news conference to unveil the course, in October 2008 at the Hotel Bel Air in Beverly Hills, he looked at ease sitting next to Red McCombs, the billionaire co-founder of Clear Channel Communications, who was one of the investors.
“I can’t wait until we actually start construction, and we get to move some dirt because that’s when I can really get my hands on it and really be out there even more than I am now,” Mr. Woods said at the time.
Now, two and a half years later, no dirt has been moved at Punta Brava and Mr. Woods has not visited in some time. His two other designs, in Dubai and near Asheville, N.C., are also troubled;
HILO — A county subsidy allowing Big Island golfers to pay just $25 greens fees at two West Hawaii golf courses began Friday, but it could be the last year for the popular program.
The county started providing subsidies in 2006 in an attempt to make recreational opportunities more equitable for West Hawaii residents, who pay more than 76 percent of property taxes, but have just a fraction of the parks and other recreational amenities enjoyed by East Hawaii residents.
Mayor Billy Kenoi said in early 2009 that although the economic slowdown is tightening the county’s spending for new projects, West Hawaii should see a more equal share of the Parks and Recreation budget. He appointed West Hawaii resident Bob Fitzgerald to head the sprawling agency.
But Fitzgerald told West Hawaii Today last week that trying to make the two sides of the island more equitable is hindered by history itself. East Hawaii has more facilities, he said, because the county received most of them from the former plantations. Large landowners in West Hawaii, in contrast, have been less generous with contributions of park land, gymnasiums and other amenities, he said.
The West Hawaii golf subsidy is meant to offset subsidies at the only county-owned golf course, Hilo Municipal Golf Course.
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Land and Pineapple Co. (MLP)? HUH? That’s what I said, too, when I stumbled across the company a few months ago. Who would want to own this thing? A pineapple company? I hate pineapples.
Then I dug some more. Not surprisingly, the company’s pineapple business is mediocre at best. The company also operates another subsidiary, Kapalua Land Company, which manages the company’s scenic Kapalua Resort community. As per consolidated results, the company is generally profitable (although erratic in its earnings) and boasts AOL founder Steve Case as a large shareholder. But that’s not why I’m writing this.
It turns out the company currently owns around 27,500 acres (or 1.2 billion sq ft.) on the Hawaiian island of Maui. That’s a lot of land. And here’s the best part: all of that land is recorded at cost between – you’ll never believe it – 1911 and 1930! Just to remind you: Hawaii wasn’t even close to being a state around that time.
So what does that mean? How much is the land worth today? Well, it doesn’t take a genius to realize that land values in Hawaii have gone up at least a little bit in the past century. Unfortunately, the vast majority (around 22,500 acres) of the land is either mountainous, preserved, or used for agriculture, so it’s not [necessarily] easily salable or, for that matter, developable (if this use of “developable” is not a word, credit me for coining it).
Nonetheless, I’d quite precisely estimate the value of the land somewhere between a little and a whole lot (how’s that for perfection?), but still far more than its cost. Investors can also take solace in the fact that the company still owns an additional 9 miles of beachfront (read: prime) real estate, several PGA toured golf courses, a happening resort community, and who knows what else.
A very good post on the company and some valuation metrics can be found here if you scroll down, so I’ll save you from the technical discussion. The author, Clyde Milton, does as good a job as any in describing the company, and I highly recommend the reading (and the whole blog, for that matter).