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Friday, December 12, 2008

Florida, Long Island golf club members bilked big time

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    In "The Snows of Kilamanjaro," author Ernest Hemingway fictionalizes an alleged conversation he had with fellow writer F. Scott Fitzgerald.
    Fitzgerald:  "The rich are different from you and me."  
    Hemingway:  "Yes, they have more money."
    Such a conversation probably took place before the Great Depression and before many of the Roaring Twenties rich lost everything.  Today, as Yogi Berra would say, the wealthy are suffering "déjà vu all over again."  In that regard, they are no different than the rest of us.
    The latest story of the rich getting poorer lands at the top of page 1 of the Wall Street Journal today, in an article about a huge default by a private investment firm led by Wall Street legend Bernard Madoff.  His investors, all of them high-wealth individuals, may have lost upwards of $50 billion in what Madoff confided to his sons -- a day before they turned him in, according to the Journal -- was a giant "Ponzi scheme."  
    Many of the bilked are members of elite country clubs in Florida and on Long Island (NY).  There is no telling what percentage of their net worth they invested with Madoff nor what effect, if any, these huge losses might have on membership rolls at the Palm Beach Country Club, Fresh Meadows Country Club on Long Island and the other clubs whose members considered big investments in Madoff's fund an emblem of status.  But we can be sure that other golf clubs in Florida, struggling just to survive under the weight of the housing and economic crises, will be eager to offer deep discounts to those who may no longer be able to bear the expense of keeping up with the Joneses, or the Trumps.
Correction:  In a story the other day about the Tennessee National golf community, I indicated the club's initiation fee of $30,000 could be spread over four years, when actually it is three years.  The first $10,000 is due at sign-up, the second $10K two years later, and the last payment in the third year.  Also, when the promised community center and pool are built, club member dues will not be affected.  Maintenance of the facilities will be paid from homeowner association dues.

Read 3521 times Last modified on Friday, 12 December 2008 06:12
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Larry Gavrich

This blog was conceived and is published by me, Larry Gavrich, a former corporate communications executive who founded HomeOnTheCourse, LLC, in 2005.  Our firm advises baby boomers and others seeking a lifestyle in which golf is a major component.  My wife Connie and I own a home in Connecticut (not on a golf course) and a condo at Pawleys Plantation in Pawleys Island, SC, on a Jack Nicklaus layout.  We began our search for our home on the course more than 15 years ago, and the challenges of the search inspired me to research golf communities and write objective reviews of them.