x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

Patience paid off in Turnberry buy

Leisurecorp spent eight months locked in talks over purchase of Turnberry course, proud to put the Emirates on the world map through golf.

David Spencer extolled the virtues of patience as he explained the long drawn out sequence of events which led to his Leisurecorp company pulling off the rebranding of the European Tour's season as the Race To Dubai and following it up with the purchase of Turnberry, venue for next year's British Open, Championship. Proud of putting the Emirates on the world map through golf, he disclosed that the Race to Dubai which concludes with the Dubai World Championship next November, was originally no more a plan to earn a piece of the Desert Classic action.

"We were looking for a way of showcasing Jumeirah Golf Estates to the world on a continued basis rather than having a one-off event," he said. "We looked at the possibility of hosting the Desert Classic as part of a rota system. It became apparent to us that was not going to happen. "We thought we are building the world's premier golf estate here and we needed to have something that was considered to be the world's best. That was a message that could be translated internationally, transported quickly and was relevant."

So his company approached the European Tour with a proposal to stage a season-ending event and change its name. The negotiations were lengthy but they reached fruition last year and the world's richest tournament will take place on the Earth course designed by Greg Norman. "To secure Turnberry's 800-plus acres on the west coast of Scotland that has an absolutely magical golfing history is amazing for us," he said.

"The owners were looking to sell it but they were also looking to find somebody suitable and it took us eight months of negotiations to persuade them. They wanted to have an owner that understood the product and was prepared to invest. "Anybody who wanted to take a poke at a company like us was really stopped in their tracks." @Email:wjohnson@thenational.ae