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No money but lots of fineries

Though bankruptcy looms, TPC keeps up appearances

Posted: October 5, 2008 6:51 p.m.
Updated: December 7, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Maintaining a high-standard of quality in keeping its PGA Tour status does not come cheap for the Tournament Players Club at Valencia where members enjoy a professionally-designed course, fine meals, expensive wine and a grand view of Santa Clarita Valley.

Golfers are back on the green at Tournament Players Club at Valencia following a couple of weeks of necessary seeding.

Cultivating and manicuring 18 holes of a prestigious PGA Tour club is essential in order to maintain its high-standard of quality.

About 330 members who bought memberships ranging from $25,000 to $65,000 ensure that the grass stays green, the meals stay tasty and the wine keeps flowing.

On Friday, a bankruptcy court judge in Delaware is expected to rule on a request made by the club’s ultimate owner, LandSource Communities Development, LLC, to allow the golf club’s membership program to continue operating.

LandSource listed TPC at Valenca as one its 21 debtor companies when it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in June.

The nearly two dozen debtor companies stand in stark contrast with the nearly two dozen other TPC clubs across North America.

TPC at Valencia shares its PGA Tour status with 22 other TPC private clubs, all touted as proud members of the PGA Tour family, from TPC Snoqualmie near Seattle to TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, the company’s first luxury TPC resort opened in 1980.

PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem is quoted on TPC’s Web site saying: “We are meeting the
mission we set out for the TPCs as the best golf courses and facilities you will find anywhere.”
He says TPC courses were created as “venues for Tournaments.”

Prolific 16-time PGA winner Mark O’Meara - who co-designed the 18-hole corse at TPC at Valencia - said on the day he officially opened the club in June 2003: “We certainly take into consideration the maturity factor of the golf course and letting the golf course grow in for two or three years.”

It’s been five years since then and TPC at Valencia has yet to hold a PGA Tour event.

Seeding a tradition and maintaining a reputation has proven to be among the club’s growing pains.
It’s rival down the road, the Valencia Country Club, hosted the PGA’s Nissan Open in 1998. It also holds a piece of PGA history.

Santa Clarita was placed on the map in March 1998 as the only place Tiger Woods ever lost in a playoff when Arizona golfer Billy Mayfair beat him in the Nissan Open.

The Nissan Open - now the Northern Trust Open and formerly the Los Angeles Open - began in 1926 the year before the housing market plunged, three years before the stock market crashed, all on the eve of the Great Depression.

The only time the Tournament was hosted in Valencia was in 1998, in the shadow of the hills where TPC now sits.

TPC pays a hefty fee for the right to hang the PGA Tour sign on its doors.

“No, we haven’t had an event out there,” PGA spokesman Adam Walsh said. “They are a licensed club. They pay us a licensing fee.”

On Apr. 1, TPC wrote a check to the PGA for $33,377.50, according to one of its financial statements.
But, there’s a lot that goes with maintaining top status.

In a list of payments paid to creditors in April and May of this year, TPC paid more than $102,000 to the Los Angeles County Tax Collector.

Finery such as tasty meals placed on top of fancy tablecloths is not cheap.

The course paid more than $7,000 in cleaning bills to Mission Linens in April and May and thousands more on the best food.

“It’s delicious,” said Marlee Lauffer, spokeswoman for Newhall Land.

All but one of the dozen club patrons interviewed had high praise for the high standard of food at the club.

Head Chef Daniel Otto, “does a great lamb,” said Chuck McDaniel, sales representative for Newport Meat, which supplies expensive cuts of meat to the club weekly.

TPC’s meat tab was just under $7,000 for two months last spring, paid in half a dozen checks to Newport Meat Company.

“He does a really big rib chop called a Tomahawk Chop which has a 10-inch bone,” McDaniel said about Otto.

The client list for Newport Meat is impressive: the Spago restaurants owned by Wolfgang Puck, The Ritz in Newport Beach and the Fleur de Lys in San Francisco.

Less than a week after TPC wrote a check to Newport Meat for $1,263.50, its parent company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

“He just recently changed his menu,” McDaniel said.

In those two months prior to the bankruptcy filing, TPC paid Gourmet Foods Inc. more than $6,215 for such things as Chicken Wellington, crab cakes and a Tuscan Chicken Roll, according to a representative of the Compton-based firm.

If you’re going to maintain a high standard, you can’t have cheap wine to go with an elaborate meal.
Raquel Dominguez, is the local sales representative for Southern Wine & Spirits, and in April and May delivered $13,686 worth of wine to the golf club.

The Wine of the Week as named by online restaurant reviewer was the Faust 2005 Insignia red wine blend. That was the week after LandSource declared bankruptcy.

Dominguez said the Faust wine (listed at $50 a bottle retail) and the “very expensive” wines such as Joseph Phelps Vineyards 2005 Insignia blended red wine (about $200 a bottle) were among the wines she delivered to PTC.

A bankruptcy court in Delaware Friday will hear all about the TPC members who pay for all this finery and maintain a standard of living in West Ridge.


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