Oki Golf announced Tuesday that it has sold its 10 local golf courses at eight locations for $137.5 million to a Chinese conglomerate, but Oki will continue to operate the courses.
The buyer is HNA Holdings, a unit of a Hong Kong-based company that operates airlines, hotels and businesses that deal in financial services and real estate, and also owns other golf courses around the world.
Golf has been struggling in recent years with fewer players hitting the links; Nike even recently abandoned its golf business.
But founder Scott Oki, a former Microsoft executive, said in a statement that he was “approached several times regarding acquisition.” A company spokeswoman said it decided to sell because HNA offered a strong financial and cultural fit — with HNA’s tourism and travel ties — and presented an opportunity for future growth.
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Oki Golf will continue to manage the courses that were sold and said there were no plans to change the courses. Oki will pay HNA an annual rent of $7.1 million for five years.
The golf courses encompass 1,880 acres in five Puget Sound counties.
They are: two high-end courses at The Golf Club at Newcastle; Washington National Golf Club near Auburn (home to the University of Washington golf teams); The Golf Club at Redmond Ridge; Trophy Lake Golf & Casting in Port Orchard; Harbour Pointe Golf Club in Mukilteo; two courses at the Golf Club at Hawks Prairie in Lacey; The Plateau Club in Sammamish; and Indian Summer Golf & Country Club in Olympia.
At its peak, Oki had bought 11 courses at nine locations, but now owns none. Oki previously sold its Golf Club at Echo Falls in Snohomish. His firm is still managing Echo Falls, the first course he purchased, in 1994.
HNA owns Hainan Airlines, which flies between Seattle and China, and recently bought Carlson Hotels, operator of brands such as Radisson.
The Chinese company did not immediately respond to requests for comment, but told Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post that it was enticed by the number of rich Chinese tourists playing golf, and saw Seattle as a gateway into the North American golf market.
The sale is the latest in a series of investments from Asian firms, which have spent several hundred million dollars buying properties this year in the Puget Sound region.
It’s unclear how the purchase price compares to what Oki paid for the courses. The terms of those purchases, made mostly from the mid-’90s to mid-2000s, were not disclosed.