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Cragun's 2016

Local Golf
June 23, 2017

Jim Lindsey - From Running Back To Real Estate Mogul
By R.J. Smiley


Former Viking star and Arkansas Razorback All-American, Jim Lindsey, become an even bigger star in the golf course and real estate apartment business.

My brother and my favorite nephew, Travis, live in Northwest Arkansas. Arkansas you snicker; don't be fooled. Northwest Arkansas is one of the best-kept secrets in the USA. It starts with the University of Arkansas located in Fayetteville and the area exploded as the homes of Walmart and Tyson Foods. Bill Clinton, during his term as President, put the icing on the cake when money was allocated for the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport. Today this area, about 50 miles in diameter, is filled with well paid, well educated executives of those business giants and the feeder companies that have prospered in the process. These executives have demanded a modern and up scale home in what was once hillbilly country.

Jim Lindsey, who spent 7 seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, saw it coming.

In addition to being a great place to live, Northwest Arkansas has some great fishing in the reservoir lakes that damn up the White River. Late Sunday afternoon at the end of a November fishing trip Travis and I decided to play a quick 9. We usually play Pinnacle Country Club, home of the Northwest Arkansas LPGA event, but Travis suggested we play The Greens on Blossom Way. Blossom Way is a little course very near his home where Travis works on his daughter Summer's game. I said, "Isn't that the golf course winding through a large apartment complex that we played once before?"

As we were enjoying a little quality time together on the course, Travis related the story about the developer, Jim Lindsey. He told me that the former Viking was an All-American on the 1964 National Championship Razorback team and had gone on to become a big time real estate developer.

Recently, I did a little research on Hog/Viking/RE Developer. The Jim Lindsey Story, a movie produced in 2013, is a documentary about the boy from Arkansas' Mississippi delta who used his Minnesota Vikings' signing bonus to launch a billion dollar real estate business.

The documentary about the former Razorback football player and businessman, is narrated by Dallas Cowboy owner Jerry Jones, a teammate of Lindsey's on that championship team. The two men rode their success as Razorbacks to success in business.

In the documentary, filmmaker Clint Fullen explains that many people thought that Lindsey, with no experience in real estate, was squandering his Viking signing bonus ($75,000) to purchase a tract of land in Northwest Arkansas. The establishment thought that Lindsey was gambling away his bonus.

The business career of Jim Lindsey was launched with the purchase, and sale, of that parcel of land. "Well it was my whole beginning, my whole start. And it was a quantum leap when I sold that land for four times what I paid for it," said Lindsey. Today, that land is home to the wildly successful Northwest Arkansas Mall.

"I went from being a "fool" to being a "child prodigy" in less than two years," said the former Razorback. "I was raised on a farm. I understood the value of land. Everybody thought I was a fool when I bought it and then all of a sudden I sell it and they think I'm a child prodigy. Well I was neither really."

The more I researched the more I understood that Lindsey, who owns more than 37,000 apartments and 42 golf courses in 8 states, used the same business model, creating apartment units overlooking a golf course in the green space. He could rent the apartments for more money and own golf courses with no debt service. Like playing football, if a play is working, keep running it.

People who know Lindsey say that he is extremely intelligent and oozes charisma. Over the years Lindsey has remained a huge supporter of Razorback football that is again on the brink of national fame. The stadium that has been expanded to over 80,000 is filled with rabid fans every home game Saturday. Fact: There is no real population base anywhere near. Razorback fans lease parking space for the elaborate motor homes by the season.

We finished our quick nine as the golden sky was shining brightly over a small part of former Viking Jim Lindsey's empire.






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