Hotel that Hosts PGA Tour (and a Remorseful Tiger Woods) Files for Bankruptcy

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When Tiger Woods emerged from sex rehab recently to apologize for his mortal sins, he chose as his place of repentance not a church, but a cheesy looking Marriott hotel. Well, ok, he is a golfer and he does live in the Sunshine State and the hotel -- the Sawgrass Marriott Resort in Ponte Vedra Beach -- is home to a PGA tournament worth some $9.5 million. Now, however, the hotel is also in hot water. The owners of the resort, RQB Resort LC, filed for bankruptcy yesterday, according to Bloomberg.com.

Turns out RQB's once friendly banker Goldman Sachs, known as either the Great Satan or the savviest money making machine on the planet, is forcing the resort into foreclosure because it hasn't paid back the $192.5 million it owes. That's probably what Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein earns over lunch. But still, Bloomberg reports that the bank "hasn't been paid since August," and we suspect they're getting nervous about balancing the books. According to court documents cited by Bloomberg, RQB had retained Jones Lang Lassalle to help it raise capital, but before Goldman accelerated the foreclosure process before those effort could bear fruit.

In this crappy economy, it turns out that a 508-room hotel with a famous PGA golf course -- this one features a 17th hole with a green on a island set in a small lake -- is as vulnerable as your home when the bankers call in the cards.Like many a recession saga, this tale dates back to the happy camper days when banks were eagerly handing out loans to all and sundry, whether you wanted to buy a house or build a skyscraper or invest in a 65-acre Florida resort.

It was 2006 and Goldman said it would help finance the $220 million purchase of the resort. But then the recession hit and playing golf at fancy resorts seemed a tad elitist. The golf industry hit a rough patch, with about 25 percent of "core golfers" nationwide cutting back on playing fees and merchandise, according to the National Golf Association. Losses mounted at Sawgrass, resulting in a "lack of liquidity and the inability of the debtors to pay," court papers say.

Sawgrass is the home of the PGA tour's Tournament Players Championship, which means it can accommodate spectators and the golf media crowd. It's also open to the public and was ranked ninth on Gold Digest's 100 Greatest Public Courses. And that hole in the lake? It attracts weekend golfers who chip (I think that's the term) some 120,000 balls a year into the water, Bloomberg reports. If only Tiger hadn't screwed around and messed up his marriage and career and endorsements, perhaps he could have driven his golf cart to the rescue. The only hope now is that angry golfers form their own made tea party to stop Big Goldman from spoiling their weekend fun.
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