Arnold Palmer Management signs 20 year deal to manage Disney courses

Arnold Palmer Golf Management signed a 20-year strategic agreement last week to manage the five golf courses at the Walt Disney World Resort starting in late September.
“I think [Disney] saw an opportunity to improve the golf experience and felt someone with our background could do that and bring more golfers and guests to the resort,” said Jim Hinkley, president of Dallas-based Century Golf Partners, which owns Arnold Palmer Golf Management. “They did a lot of due diligence with us and we spent a lot of time getting to know them. The most important thing was whether our culture and their cutlure could work together.”
Arnold Palmer Golf Management, which operates more than 70 golf courses, will operate, manage, maintain and help promote Disney’s Palm and Magnolia, Lake Buena Vista, Osprey Ridge and Oak Trail golf courses. It will also invest into the properties, including a redesign of Disney’s Palm course, which opened with the resort in 1971.
Arnold Palmer and his golf course design team will handle the renovation and design strategic and innovative features for other courses. The Palm will be designated as an Arnold Palmer designed course after the renovation is completed.
“After 40 years as a golf course architect, I’m looking forward to this opportunity to contribute to Disney’s rich and storied golf legacy,” said Arnold Palmer. “I’ve enjoyed a lifetime of memories playing golf and it will be a great reward to pass that on to those who share a passion both for Disney and the game of golf.”
Hinkley said the 20-year lease is not unusual for his company, which acts more as owners than managers.
“This is a long-term commitment and we are both excited about it,” he said.
These are the first courses in Orlando for the management company, although it operates several courses in Florida. It also has experience with multiple course resorts, including PGA National Resort in Palm Beach. 
“We think our culture fit really well and that we can improve the Disney experience,” Hinkley said. “It is strategic for our brand too. Sometimes you are known for the company you keep – with Arnold Palmer, Peter Ueberroth and Disney, we have some pretty strong partners.”
Century Golf Partners owns courses with Ueberroth’s company.
Hinkley said it is also strategic for the company’s Palmer Advantage, a reciprocal club and concierge service program, that provides members with travel benefits and access to more than 250 private clubs, resorts and golf courses around the world.

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