By Zack Peterson
For years, Plantation Palms Golf Club, a rolling green surrounded by marshy wetlands, stout cypress trees and blossoming reed willows, has been under the control of Plantation Palms Homeowners Association.
Now, Plantation Palms Golf Club is under the ownership of MJS Golf Group, a collective of three Native American business owners looking to give the course a new and highly defined profile.
Mitch Osceola, Jayson Ray and Steve McDonald bought the property from the homeowners association recently after years of searching for a suitable course. The purchase price was not disclosed.
“Our business had been looking for years for a golf course,” McDonald said. “But nothing fit until Plantation Palms. When we saw how well maintained everything was, we knew it was the one we wanted to go after.”
According to McDonald, the homeowners association put the course on the market because “gold course ownership wasn’t their specialty.”
The MJS business trio’s history travels much further back though.
All were raised within their respective tribes, with Osceola a native Seminole in Florida; Ray part of the Klamath Modoc tribe in the Northwest and McDonald growing up with the Prairie Band Potawatomis in the plains of Kansas. Despite their differences, the men ultimately found golf to be their life’s passion.
After years of involvement with the sport, McDonald and Osceola met in 1997, introduced to one another by Osceola’s brother, Max, a member of the Seminole Tribal Council.
Later in 2002, McDonald and Osceola met Ray, and the ideas for business collaboration began to brew.
“We kind of all had the same aspirations and dreams of entering into a business together,” Ray said. “The tough part was scrapping up the money to be owners.”
But before the MJS business trio that came together in 2005, Ray founded the First Nations Golf Association nonprofit organization in 2002.
Described as “a golf association for Native Americans” by McDonald, the foundation of the FNGA provided some of the initial business experience the trio would later need to use with Plantation Palms.
Throughout the years, the trio hosted multiple tournaments, traveling across the entire country to do so.
“We’ve hosted events in Washington, Arizona, New Mexico, Minnesota, California, Mississippi and Oklahoma,” McDonald said. ‘We’ve been everywhere.”
McDonald explained that across the four corners of the country, there are 463 federally recognized Native American tribes.
“Of those 463 tribes, 220 own casinos, and of those 220 casinos, 60 own golf courses that are associated with casinos known as ‘destination resorts,’” McDonald said.
What makes Plantation Palms so special, according to McDonald, is that “Plantation Palms is the first individually owned golf course by three independent business men, not casinos.”
But, as members of Native American tribes, MJS intends to use the support of the nearby Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino as a “market advantage” to attract more gamers.
“We’ve got big ideas for Plantation Palms that will help the HOA (Homeowners Association) grow as well,” Ray said.
So far, the MJS business trio has reshaped particular aspects of the course to make it more player-friendly.
“We’ve changed the fairways by making them narrower, smoothed it out. We’re growing the rough up, and we’re taking out a couple of bunkers,” Ray said.
McDonald explained he, Ray and Osceola go out and make modifications to the course during the workday.
“We’re a real hands-on ownership,” McDonald said. “What people may not realize is that Mitch, Jayson and I are going out there and helping with the changes to the course.”
“We’re not afraid to get our hands dirty or our feet in the mud.”
For now, the owners look to connect with the community by offering a series of benefit memberships, Golf Associations and quality golf instruction.
But the future is fair game.
“Right now our goal is to offer a fun golf experience that is all about ‘family, fun, food and golf’ coupled with customer service and superior playing conditions. We couldn’t be happier,” McDonald said.
“We’ve only owned Plantation Palms for six weeks, but eventually we’ll host celebrity tournaments, Pro-Ams and senior tournaments. Any business that wants to have a great tournament or outing, we’re there for you,” McDonald said.
Bill Jenkins says
Wonderful article, except, The Plantation Palms Homeowner Association did not own, never owned and never wanted to own the course course. The course was developed by and owned by Golf Development Corporation a company affiliated with the Plantation Palms developer, Perfection Partners Limited, a Nevada Corporation. Some real good research was entered in this article. Wow!