Investors tee up in US golf paradise
Updated: 2015-05-07 07:43
By Paul Welitzkin(China Daily)
A Chinese investment group has become the largest operator of golf courses in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, known as the seaside golf capital of the US because it has more than 100 courses. [File Photo]
A Chinese investment group has become the largest operator of golf courses in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, known as the seaside golf capital of the US because it has more than 100 courses.
Founders Group International acquired last month the majority of the assets of National Golf Management, which had been the largest owner/operator in the area with 12 courses.
Founders has not been alone in acquiring courses in the area. Other Chinese groups, families and individuals have purchased 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 Chinese now own about 25 percent of the region's golf industry.
The Myrtle Beach area is known for its mild climate and beach access to the Atlantic Ocean, and it draws more than 6 million visitors annually.
Founders Group International is mainly owned by Chinese investor Dan Liu and New York resident Nick Dou, the group's president. Before the 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. "Many Chinese have heard of, and in many cases visited, San Francisco, New York and Florida. But almost none of them 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.
Dean said locals began to notice the increasing Chinese presence a year ago.
"There was some curiosity, and even though we are a top tourist destination, the vast majority of our tourists are domestic," he added.
Dean said a program promoting Myrtle Beach has run on China Central Television.
Dou said: "We want to bring more tourists from China to Myrtle Beach. We believe that once they experience the area they will tell their family and friends back in China."
Jane Zheng, from China, became a Myrtle Beach resident 10 years ago.
After deciding to change careers from working as a research scientist for a pharmaceutical company in New Jersey, she visited Myrtle Beach and decided to work in real estate in the area.
"I bought some properties and then encouraged other Chinese investors from New York and New Jersey to invest as well," she said.