During the last 50 years, Nicklaus has transcended greatness in golf to become one of the iconic brands in sports and lifestyle. As the game and the Golden Bear’s business continue to expand, the Nicklaus Companies today announced the formation of Nicklaus-China, a partnership with a leading Chinese company that will aid in the strategic, comprehensive and responsible growth of golf in China by assisting developers with a unique opportunity and “turnkey solution” to golf course and residential development. The venture will also explore business opportunities outside design and development that involve Jack Nicklaus and the Nicklaus brands.
The official signing of the Nicklaus-China venture took place Tuesday at Pasadera Country Club, a Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course that opened in 2000 and the same week the Golden Bear played in his final US Open just minutes away at Pebble Beach. Participating in the signing was Nicklaus and Dr. Guang Yang, Chairman and CEO of Finergy Capital, a private equity firm based in Beijing and the new partner in Nicklaus-China.
In 2010, Dr. Yang, in a partnership with Hainan Airlines, acquired Pasadera Country Club. Pasadera represents the first Nicklaus-China collaboration and the opportunities the new partnership will explore in the United States. Pasadera has already been positioned as a hub and platform for US-China business relations, and has hosted a significant number of influential and prominent Chinese business leaders in a variety of economic forums.
Nicklaus-China is a natural step for Jack Nicklaus and his iconic brand, which has expanded to include more lifestyle services and products in new and emerging markets, such as China. Nicklaus Design already has 84 courses open for play in the Asia Pacific region, including 19 in China. Nicklaus Design currently has 12 courses under development in China and another 10 projects signed and in the planning process. Nicklaus has also begun to brand real estate developments in China, including projects in Beijing and Shenzhen.
The Nicklaus-China venture will operate out of Beijing, and the office will be home to both Chinese and American executives with decades of international experience in the golf industry, ranging from golf course design, development, construction, sales and marketing, agronomy, and operations management.
“As a player and then designer, my goal has always been to grow the game around the world,” Nicklaus said. “At the same time, I think it is important to grow the way golf is developed. We have witnessed the passion and enthusiasm for golf in China, but we have also observed a need and desire for assistance in every aspect of the development process. A quality golf experience only begins with the design process, and developers in China are looking for leadership and expertise in the golf and real estate arenas.
“Although golf is relatively new to China compared to other markets, they want it to be positioned as the very best. That is where we can help. With over four decades working on golf courses in a variety of markets around the world, we can deliver the expertise to develop golf and real estate at the highest level, for the enjoyment of the game, commitment to community, and responsibility to the environment. Our goal is to bring that to interested developers and eventually to the consumer and put these developments in a position to succeed for future generations to enjoy. Dr. Yang and I are both committed to this goal, and I look forward to our new relationship.”
Prior to founding Finergy, Dr. Yang was an executive vice president and senior portfolio manager with Franklin Templeton. He still serves as vice chairman of China Life Franklin Asset Management Co., a joint venture between China Life and Franklin Templeton in Hong Kong. Dr. Yang received his Masters in Business Administration from Harvard, a doctorate from Australian National University, and his undergraduate degree from the University of Science and Technology of China.
Much like Nicklaus has done with Muirfield Village Golf Club and The Bear’s Club, his Ohio and Florida home clubs, respectively, the Nicklaus-China venture is looking to bring the same hands-on, turnkey approach to new and existing clubs worldwide. Dr. Yang, who is chairman of Pasadera Country Club, is already witnessing the input at the Monterey club in the form of renovation work, management consulting, rebranding and repositioning.
“In our opinion, Pasadera Country Club has an enormous amount of untapped potential,” said Dr. Yang. “With our location, golf course and amenities, there is a tremendous amount of opportunity at this club. We feel that Jack and the Nicklaus-China team will help us get the club back to an elite status. The idea of the new Nicklaus-China venture started right here at Pasadera, and it shows the potential of Pasadera being a bridge between the U.S. and China, and how golf can serve as a social platform for business communities on either side of the world.”
In addition to Tuesday’s announcement, approximately 200 Pasadera Country Club members and guests gathered at the club for a celebration of Nicklaus’ 50-year anniversary of his first U.S. Open victory—his first professional victory and the first of a record 18 majors—as well as the opening of the Nicklaus Lodge, a member lodging component added to the Pasadera clubhouse. The club also announced Mr. Nicklaus as its Honorary Chairman. Pasadera founding members include business leaders such as Niu Gengsheng, former Chairman of Mengnui Dairy Group, China’s leading dairy manufacturer. In 2005, Mr. Gengsheng donated all his shares to a foundation and is among China’s leading philanthropists.
“It is always a thrill for me to return to the courses I have designed, because they represent a special part of my career and life,” Nicklaus said. “Throughout my career, I have had a uniquely special attachment to the Monterey Peninsula, so Pasadera has allowed me the opportunity to leave a little piece of me in the legacy of a golf-rich area. We are proud of the respect and rightful place the club has earned here, and we are confident that under the umbrella of Nicklaus-China, Pasadera has a bright future.”
About Jack Nicklaus and the Nicklaus Companies
For more than 40 years, the mission of the Nicklaus Companies has been to enhance the golf experience, and to bring to the national and international consumer golf-related businesses and services that mirror the high standards established in the career and life of Jack Nicklaus. These services include golf-course design, the development of golf and real estate communities, and the marketing and licensing of golf products and services. Nicklaus-branded products have been marketed worldwide since 1962. The Jack Nicklaus- and Golden Bear-branded lifestyle collection of products includes: beverages; wine; home appliances; flooring; cabinets; apparel; footwear; and golf equipment.
Nicklaus Design is widely regarded as the world’s leading golf course design firm, with almost 370 courses open for play in 34 countries and 39 states, and is chief among the reasons why Golf Inc. Magazine voted Jack Nicklaus the “Most Powerful Person in Golf” for a record six consecutive years. Nicklaus Design has offices and representation in more than a dozen countries, including more design personnel dedicated to Asia than in North America. In a recent three-year span, Nicklaus Design was voted Golf Course Architects of the Year in Asia by the readers of Asian Golf Monthly.
At least 70 Nicklaus Design courses having been ranked in various national or international Top-100 lists, and no fewer than 95 Nicklaus courses have hosted a combined total of more than 650 professional tournaments worldwide. Nicklaus Design has more than 45 projects in planning or under construction in 24 countries, including 19 in which the firm has never been involved. That allows the company to fulfill Jack Nicklaus’ career-long mission to introduce and help grow the game around the world. Primary markets these days include China, Southeast Asia and Russia. Combined, there are close to 30 projects under development in these markets, including 19 in China.
As a point of differentiation and to aid developers in emerging markets, Nicklaus also offers turnkey services, where the company helps oversee construction, membership sales and marketing.
No single person has changed the face of the sport of golf more than Jack Nicklaus—the champion, the designer, the philanthropist, and the good-will ambassador. Jack’s competitive career spanned six decades, and his legend has been built with 120 professional tournament victories worldwide and a record 18 professional major-championship titles. Not only was Nicklaus recognized by every national and international media outlets as “Golfer of the Century” or “Golfer of the Millennium,” he was named Individual Male Athlete of the Century by Sports Illustrated, one of the 10 Greatest Athletes of the Century by ESPN, and in 2005 was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor given to any U.S. civilian.
For more information on Jack Nicklaus or the Nicklaus Companies, please visit www.nicklaus.com.