Cliffs Communities Halts Most Spending, Including for Tiger Woods Golf Course

Gary Player gets to finish his golf course on schedule; Tiger Woods doesn’t.

Palm Coast, FL – December 30, 2010

From: Golf Community Reviews [December 28, 2010]
When Cliffs Communities residents and club members loaned developer Jim Anthony more than $60 million to complete the amenities he had promised, including Tiger Woods’ first American golf course design, they made sure the money would be spent wisely.  The loan agreement between Anthony and the lender group, self-named ClubCo, includes a clause that calls for a reduction in spending if real estate sales and cash flow fall short of certain levels.
According to a letter sent to ClubCo members earlier this month, parts of which a Cliffs member has shared with Golf Community Reviews, spending has been deferred for most amenities other than the almost finished clubhouse and Gary Player golf course at Mountain Park.  The stoppage includes the golf course, maintenance facility and clubhouse at High Carolina, site of the Tiger Woods golf course, as well as a wellness center, spa and restaurant at The Cliffs at Keowee Springs.  Some renovations and expansion of amenities at the other Cliffs communities have also been halted, but according to the Cliffs member who shared the contents of the letter with us, “in the grand scheme of things, nothing major.”
The Mountain Park course and clubhouse are set to open in the fall of 2011.  Player moved his U.S. golf design operations to The Cliffs and purchased a large home there.  The Tiger Woods course is a couple of years from completion and, let’s face it, does not have the same cachet it had before a certain fateful Thanksgiving night 13 months ago. (Anthony and Woods announced the High Carolina plans the summer before the star’s car crash and revelations of serial adultery.)  High Carolina was “an unnecessary addition to the Cliffs formula,” according to our reader, and “…the debt raised may accelerate a split off of High Carolina, something I view as inevitable, and hopefully before it destroys value [in] the rest of the Cliffs.”
“Six courses to play is perfectly adequate,” he added, echoing what we have heard from other Cliffs members who play their home course most of the time, other nearby Cliffs courses occasionally, and the ones an hour away rarely.  The three courses on Lake Keowee (Vineyard, Falls and Springs) are less than 20 minutes from each other, and those closer to Greenville, SC (Glassy, Valley, and Mountain Park when completed) are less than 30 minutes from each other.  The “outlier” is The Cliffs at Walnut Cove, a challenging Jack Nicklaus course, which appears to be self-sustaining given the lure of nearby Asheville, NC.

Cliffs Communities Equestrian Lodge

Cliffs developer Jim Anthony and the group of residents who loaned him $60 million have suspended work on most of the communities’ unfinished amenities, including the Tiger Woods golf course at High Carolina.  Pictured is an established equestrian center at The Cliffs at Keowee.
During my first visit to The Cliffs in 2006, I marveled at the high-end amenities that included equestrian centers, wellness centers, expansive clubhouses, nature trails (with on-staff naturalists) and plans for even more.  I wondered out loud to a friend how such spending could be sustained, even from the sales of home sites in the high-six figures.  Of course, an ascendant housing market coupled with a huge and well-to-do baby boomer cohort caused many buyers not to think twice about subsidizing amenities they might never use.  (Quick, think of all the golfing equestrians you know!)  Then credit default swaps exerted their gravitational pull on the housing market and all those baby boomers’ plans.  The Cliffs is not alone among high-end golf communities with cash flow issues.
Developers who pushed an all-amenities-to-all-people business model have had a sobering few years.  Although he certainly could be accused of overreaching, The Cliffs’ Jim Anthony is no Bobby Ginn; Cliffs properties may have lost some significant value in the last three years, but their owners still speak of Anthony in reverential terms (the opposite of how Ginn owners feel about their bankrupt developer).  They want Anthony’s vision to triumph as much as they want their investments to hold.  In an ironic way, the economy may have done Anthony and The Cliffs a favor.  The members who loaned Anthony the $60 million will act as a governor on his loftier -– and expensive –- dreams.
This new financial partnership among owners and developer, as well as spending to match cash flow, could very well become a model for other upscale golf communities that got way ahead of themselves.

Cliffs Communities golf

The golf at all six Cliffs courses is undeniably excellent, which makes some members wonder if the Tiger Woods course, which will follow a new Gary Player course, is necessary.
© Copyright 2007 – 2010 HomeOnTheCourse, LLC

5 replies
  1. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Way off

    Your comment regarding Ginn in the Cliffs article is way off Toby.
    Cliffs’ Jim Anthony is no Bobby Ginn; Cliffs properties may have lost some significant value in the last three years, but their owners still speak of Anthony in reverential terms (the opposite of how Ginn owners feel about their bankrupt developer). They want Anthony’s vision to triumph as much as they want their investments to hold.
    The reference to Ginn owners feeling differently about bankrupt developer” is simply not true. Those with negative comments are the minority and NOT the majority at all. Although the minority can be vocal at times and appear much larger. Your article needs corrected/clarified. You have NO basis for that comment other than those who got caught with their pants down and are bitter. Further Ginn owners do of course want to see Bobby’s vision carried out, why would they!….just like at Cliffs.

  2. the bankslayer
    the bankslayer says:


    Wow Toby at last it looks like you have truly fallen off that fenced you have been delicately perched on for such a long time, it looks like you are finally seeing the light, I hope it was me who finally turned the switch to turn the light on for you. But it has to be said Bobby’s hands were very much tied and it was the Greed of Lubert Adler that is responsible for most of the mess, it was them who forced Bobby to do launch after launch, selling to the same people in every community, but like every ponzi scheme eventually it inevitably comes to an end. Once the Authorities follow the money trail they will see who the real culprits were. The Billions of Dollars from the Banks and Investors is now in the pockets of Lubert Adler and their Investors.

  3. Toby
    Toby says:

    Reply to anonymous

    I was not the author. Having said that, I support his portrayal of Bobby and Jim Anthony. No correction is necessary.

    I have said many times that Hammock Beach is the most viable of all Bobby’s developments. Owners there have much to be pleased about, except the NOPC that is. (When Bobby sold Hammock Beach and Ocean Hammock properties, did his vision include a beachside hotel?)

    On the other hand, property owners from the Gardens, Yacht Harbor Village, Conservatory, Bella Collina, Reunion, BriarRose, Burke Mt., Quail West, Tesoro, Cobblestone Park, Ginn sur Mer, and the residents of Minturn CO do not speak about Bobby in favorable terms. I know because I have talked to hundreds of them. They weren’t caught with their pants down. Their pockets were artfully fleeced.

    On the other hand, property owners at The Cliffs Communities are generally pleased with the job Jim Anthony is doing; enough to loan him a lot of money. I can’t imagine Bobby being able to raise $60,000,000 from his property owners. Moreover, The Cliffs Communities are not subject to a flood of lawsuits by their property owners. Nor are they burdened with debt.

    Did Bobby’s vision include taking credit for building the FL Turnpike interchange at Tesoro, then sticking the property owners with the bill?
    Did Bobby’s vision include keeping the millions of dollars of membership deposits rather than depositing them in the promised escrow accounts until the amenity facilities were completed?
    Did Bobby’s vision include mortgaging four of his projects to a $675 million loan, then keeping $330 million from the loan proceeds for himself and Lubert-Adler?
    Did Bobby’s vision include shifting the ownership of land to be used for the Tesoro Beach Club and the third golf course outside the Tesoro entity shortly before closing on the Credit Suisse loan?
    Did Bobby’s vision include not paying millions of dollars of Reunion CDD assessments, leaving the CDD in a very serious financial condition?
    Did Bobby’s vision include a beach house at Quail West, a beach house and third golf course at Tesoro, a sports complex and equestrian center and docks at Bella Collina, two golf courses at Ginn sur Mer, a clubhouse at Cobblestone Park, a golf course and shooting facility at BriarRose, a golf course at Laurelmor?
    Did Bobby’s vision include a misleading video portrayal of the source of funds for the Ginn sur Mer escrow account?
    Was it ethical for Bobby and Lubert-Adler to flip lots owned beneficially by them for huge profits when the profits rightfully belong to the Lubert-Adler investors?

    Are you suggesting that these problems were brought on by “those who got caught with their pants down and are bitter?”

    “The visionary lies to himself, the liar only to others.” [Friedrich Nietzsche]

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