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Golf courses sell into a rising market

With golf rounds up 30 per cent or more since the pandemic began, the market for courses comes flying out of the rough

The Meridien Golf Course in South Surrey, listed at $5.9 million has sold, another Lower Mainland course is prepping to come to market and three other B.C. courses found buyers after years of searching.

It is reflective of a pandemic-induced recovery that has taken the golf industry out of the rough and into the best market conditions in at least the past half-decade, according to data collected on Business in Vancouver’s Busiest Public Golf Courses in B.C. list (

The average rounds played grew 6.5 per cent to 55,094 in 2020 from 51,711 in 2019. The increase was more than three times the 1.8 per cent growth recorded in 2019 and more than six times the 1 per cent increase in rounds played in 2018.

Last year’s improvement was driven mainly by larger courses ranked higher on BIV’s list, which grew at a higher rate than smaller companies lower on the list.

The average one-year growth rate in rounds played was 14.7 per cent, compared with a median of just 4.4 per cent. The average growth rate for the top 10 courses on the list was 15.3 per cent compared with 13 per cent for the bottom 10.

The company with the highest growth rate was Sandpiper Resort, which nearly doubled its number of rounds played, expanding 87 per cent to 43,000 rounds played in 2020 from 23,000 in 2019.

After Sandpiper Resort, the three busiest golf courses on the list had some of the highest one-year growth rates.

Northview Golf & Country Club had the second-largest one-year growth on the list. Its rounds played increased 50.5 per cent to 80,599 in 2020 from 53,559 in 2019.

Swaneset Bay Resort & Country Club and Hazelmere Golf & Country Club both recorded double-digit growth at 45.6 per cent and 32.1 per cent respectively.

“Golf, along with boating and aviation has soared in popularity; some golf courses I have spoken with have seen their rounds go up by 30 per cent or more,” said Allan Johnston, an agent with Colliers Unique Properties. Johnston sold the 15-acre Meridien Golf Course in South Surrey – the deal closes shortly, he said June 1 – and he is awaiting word on a second Lower Mainland course listing.

While no plans have been announced, the Meridien has the potential of being developed into two single family estate residences, Johnston noted.

In April, the 18-hole Michaelbrook Golf Club in Kelowna’s Lower Mission sold for $6.05 million in a transaction brokered by Jeff Hudson and Marshall McAnerney of HM Commercial Group, Kelowna.

The 53-acre course, which is in the Agricultural Land Reserve –which normally precludes development – covers 3,721 yards with a clubhouse, restaurant and a four-bedroom house.

Also in April, the Two Eagles Golf Course and Academy near Kelowna, was taken over by Key West Homes under a five-year lease. Rumours were rife that it would be developed into housing.

 K West Homes founder and president Kevin Bird told Castanet News that is not the case.

"We are only running a golf course and that’s it," said Bird.

While there may be some operational changes, Bird said the property will remain a golf course, at least for the next five years.

Court-ordered sale

In March, one year after COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic, the troubled and shuttered Glen Meadows Golf & Country Club on Vancouver Island was sold under a court order.

The 132-acre property was bought under the B.C. Supreme Court approved-sale by a Pauquachin First Nation company for $5.38 million. Most of the land – 126 acres – is in the Agricultural Land Reserve. The deal closed May 22.

The 50-year old Glen Meadows was listed in 2019 after the collapse of a 2017 sales agreement worth $4.8 million.

In 2015, owners Percy and Rae Criddle failed to win support from North Saanich council for a proposal to create 35 strata-titled lots. That proposal would have seen the remaining 100 acres donated to the municipality.

Glen Meadows was then put on the market. The family agreed to help finance the 2017 sale with Hong Hua Hu, who then assigned his shares to a numbered company.

But the numbered company failed to make its final payment, which was due in December 2019, to the Criddle family. That left the Criddles owing $3.36 million plus monthly interest, court documents show. That led to a foreclosure action by the Criddle family, which received the right to put the property up for sale again.

Saanich Peninsula First Nation now owns two golf course properties. It bought the 47-acre Ardmore Golf Course, also in North Saanich, early last year from the DuTemple family.