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Hawai‘i’s Golf Course Shuffle

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

Playing golf may have declined in popularity, but owning golf courses hasn’t. PBN editor-in-chief A. Kam Napier has more.

Over the past three years, 11 golf courses in Hawaii changed hands, representing $110 million in transactions. One thing new about this market is the rising profile of South Korean owners. YHB Hospitality Group, for example, acquired the Hawaii Kai Golf Course in 2015 for $20 million, the Royal Hawaiian Gold Club last July for an undisclosed sum and the Koolau Golf Club in January of this year. In all, YHB owns five golf courses in Hawaii.


All but one of the 11 golf courses purchased recently were acquired by Asian investors, from Japan and China as well as South Korea.


Alan Dornbush, a Honolulu-based broker who handles such sales tells PBN that Hawaii golf courses hold a certain trophy value for Asian investors, saying, “They are willing to pay more for the property than a local investor.”


Investors are banking on a few factors here. One is that Hawaii real estate in any category is generally a good buy. Golf courses may get an extra lift out of Hawaii’s increasing visitor counts, including increases from Japan, South Korea and China, where leisure travelers are looking for golfing opportunities.


Golfers are benefiting from the cash infusion. All 11 courses have either completed or are planning upgrades to their greens or facilities.

A. Kam Napier is the editor-in-chief of Pacific Business News.
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