Nicklaus Design’s Global Business Booming

With recent international projects signed, from Russia to Spain to Asia and Mexico, Nicklaus strengthens hold as world’s leading design firm

NORTH PALM BEACH, Fla.-Nicklaus Design is going global. Again.

Nicklaus Design, which first established its worldwide reputation three decades ago, is quickly adding to its global resume in 2003, with recent signings that will bring Nicklaus-designed golf to such corners of the world as Russia, Spain, China, South Korea, Brazil, Scotland and Ireland. Nicklaus Design has or expects to sign close to 40 contracts by the end of 2003, including projects in 12 different countries and representing every habitable continent in the world.

Of the close to 30 international contracts expected to be signed by year’s end, eight are in Europe and another six are in Asia. Nicklaus Design sales in Europe this year are greater than the last seven years combined, and sales in Asia are five times greater than they were at the end of last year.

“This has been one of, if not the most successful years we’ve had, and a surprising percentage of our business is international,” said Jack Nicklaus II, president of Nicklaus Design. “For about the past five years, 5 to 10 percent of our business was outside of North America. This year, it’s closer to 35 to 40 percent.”

Nicklaus Design already has golf courses open for play in 27 countries, as well as 36 states. The recent spike in international business mirrors the period of business 10 to 15 years ago, when a significant percentage of Nicklaus’ existing global count was built. In a six-year span from 1988-94, Nicklaus opened 68 courses, and 35 of those were international projects.

Less than 10 years later, trends are proving once again that Jack Nicklaus has become a household name throughout the world, and Nicklaus Design is the recognized global leader in golf course design.

“Especially in emerging markets, a lot of the people driving the golf there have traveled throughout the United States and have seen the quality of what Jack and Nicklaus Design have produced,” said Tim Kenny, executive vice president of Nicklaus Design. “These developers want to duplicate those efforts and that success in their markets. They want to begin with a name that transcends golf, is globally recognized, and exudes quality. That is why Nicklaus has been the choice for many.

“We’ve been able to help the growth in these emerging markets by responding quickly to new opportunities in the four corners of the world, because we have the human resources, capital resources and experience to respond to that need.”

Jack Nicklaus opened his first design in 1970, and his first international projects in 1976 (Glen Abbey in Onatario, Canada; and La Moraleja in Madrid, Spain). Still, through 1987, Nicklaus had only five projects open outside of the United States, compared to 43 within the country.

“There certainly was a strong Asian trend in the late 1980s and early 1990s,” Kenny said. “Then, the Asian economic downturn happened in the mid 90s. Fortunately, an exceptional growth event occurred in this hemisphere coinciding with the Asian downturn. Since 9-11, you have seen a strong trend continue with golf course design opportunities in Mexico and the Caribbean, with those developers predominantly targeting the American market. But also since 9-11, there are other indicators that show an upsurge in strong local markets like Moscow, Brazil, Spain, China and South Korea. None of those are driven by the American market, but instead are driven by the respective local or regional markets.”

Fueling its trend over the last few years, Nicklaus Design continues to add projects throughout Mexico, with 10 projects under construction or signed, and another 12 prospects. Nicklaus Design already has 11 courses open for play in Mexico, with nine of those being tied into coastal destinations or areas, and resort in nature. Now, the larger number of projects being developed in Mexico are inland and tied into residential projects.

“Central Mexico has been a successful market for us,” Kenny said. “You have prototypes being developed in places like Morelia, San Miguel and San Luis Potosi. You have a strong local owner, who has established meaningful connections and who understands the local market. They are creating quality living environments for their families and their friends.”

For over 30 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 Design, recognized as the world leader in golf course design, has been involved with 270 courses open for play in 27 countries and 36 states. Of those, Jack Nicklaus has designed, co-designed or re-designed 226 courses around the globe, 35 of which have been ranked in various national or international Top-100 lists.

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