KAPALUA - The $50 million sale of the 18-year-old Kapalua Plantation Golf Course will not have any immediate impact on next year's Mercedes-Benz Championship, tournament Chairman Gary Planos said Tuesday.
The tournament is set for Jan. 7-10, when it will be played for the 12th - and perhaps final - time on the par-73, 7,411-yard Plantation Golf Course. The event that kicks off the PGA Tour season with a winners-only field from the 2009 season will be the final one in the current four-year contract between the tour, Mercedes-Benz USA and Kapalua Maui Charities.
''It is pretty much going to be very seamless,'' Planos said after news broke of the sale of the Plantation Golf Course from Maui Land & Pineapple Co. to TY Management Corp. ''It should be very good for all of us. We are excited.''
Planos said that he spoke with a PGA Tour official on Tuesday and there was no movement on a renewal of the contract.
''We still have the Mercedes-Benz Championship coming up in January, and we are still working on information beyond 2010 right now,'' he said. ''We'd like to continue hosting the championship, but we need to see where Mercedes is and where the tour is. At this time, right now, the farthest we can look ahead is 2010.''
ML&P President Robert Webber also said he is waiting to hear about the future of the Mercedes tournament.
''We've had great positive feedback, but we don't know,'' he said.
Kapalua has retained management in the golf course via a leaseback arrangement with the investors who bought it.
Webber said he considers the deal a win-win. Although the leaseback is for two years, it includes a provision that automatically extends the arrangement if Kapalua, Mercedes and the PGA come to an agreement.
The two-year lease agreement is renewable at the new owner's option, according to Planos.
''I'm sure the new owner would have a say, but they have enjoyed the success that the Mercedes-Benz Championship has had with the Plantation Course and I think they would be in agreement in continuing that kind of success,'' Planos said.
When asked when a decision on the future of the event - whether it stays at Kapalua or moves, or if Mercedes-Benz USA continues its sponsorship - would be made, Planos said it can't be determined yet.
''I really can't give you a time frame until I receive additional information,'' he said. ''I talked to the tour today and there has been no additional update.''
Planos, also the Kapalua senior vice president in charge of resort operations, said there should be little if any change in the golf operations for the Plantation Golf Course.
''No, it won't have any effect on the employee discounts and playing privileges, all of that will continue at the Plantation Course and all our workers are here in accordance to our agreements,'' Planos said.
While the new owners have an option to renew the lease agreement in two years, he said he doesn't expect a change.
''I have been here since the start, and we have enjoyed 18 years of being open at the Plantation Course as a leading golf operation since day one and I don't see any reason why that won't continue here," he said.
* Robert Collias can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.