Chinese investors tee up in US golf haven
It’s known as the “seaside golf capital of the world” because it has more than 100 golf courses, and now with their latest purchase, an investor group from China is the largest operator of golf courses in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Founders Group International last month acquired the majority of the assets of National Golf Management, which had been the largest owner/operator in the area with 12 courses and an additional five operated through management
Founders has not been alone in acquiring courses in the area. Other Chinese groups, families or individuals have purchased golf courses and related assets. According to the Charlotte Observer newspaper, investors from China have purchased 27 of the area’s 80-plus public courses since June 2013. Brad Dean, president and CEO of the Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce, estimates that the Chinese now own about 25 percent of the region’s golf industry.
In addition to its mild climate and beach access to the Atlantic Ocean, the Myrtle Beach area, also known as the Grand Strand, many of its golf courses are the work of top designers. It also claims to be the miniature golf capital of the world with its 50 miniature courses.
Founders Group International is mainly owned by Chinese investor Dan Liu and New York resident Nick Dou, who is also the president of Founders Group. Prior to this latest purchase, Founders had acquired several other courses in the area.
“I was attracted by the golf, Myrtle Beach’s close location to the ocean and the wonderful weather,” Dou told China Daily.
Dou acknowledges that not too many Chinese were familiar with Myrtle Beach. “They had heard of and in many cases visited San Francisco, New York and Florida,” he said. “But almost no Chinese knew about Myrtle Beach. I told them it was a diamond in the rough and then brought them to visit.”
National Golf Management employs about 700 people according to Dou. “We have invested over $100 million in Myrtle Beach and we provide jobs and pay taxes,” he said.