The Grass is Greener: Golf Communities See New Buyers Amid Pandemic


Kathy and Rodger Cole have sporadically searched for a second home over the past few years while aiming for Lake Tahoe. The couple, who live in the San Francisco Bay Area, accelerated their plans when the pandemic hit and shifted gears to the Santa Lucia Reservation in Carmel, California.

“We knew it was time to take seriously a vacation home that we could easily drive to once Covid-19 arrived,” said Rodger Cole, a 51-year-old lawyer. “We went to The Preserve in Carmel, 105 miles from our home, four weekends in a row to play golf and view homes.”

The Coles bought their home, which features 4,000 square feet, three bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms and a patio with a fire pit and prairie views, for $3.45 million.

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“We’ll probably be spending up to three-quarters of our time at The Preserve because our kids, who are in middle school and high school, are doing virtual learning this semester,” said Ms. Cole, who is 48. the whole family plays golf and the children can ride horses at the equestrian center. And even though this place is so secluded and serene, the internet service is better than back home in Silicon Valley.”

Golf course communities, which have been losing popularity for the past few years, have experienced renewed interest since this spring. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the states with the most golf courses are Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, North and South Carolina, and Texas. .

“Most of our clients have record years of golf rounds played and golf club memberships sold,” said Mike Kelly, managing partner of 59 Club USA, a consulting firm based in Statham, Georgia. who analyzes customer service and makes recommendations in the hospitality industry, including golf for lessons. “Those who sell real estate in these environments, especially those in vacation environments away from major cities, are also seeing great results this year.”

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Golf is one of the few activities people could continue to participate in during the pandemic because it is played outdoors and was allowed in most states, Kelly said.

“The membership and real estate side of the business is growing because of the market’s reliance on the care provided by a private club or community,” Kelly said. “People just think it’s a safer environment than going to a facility that’s open to the general public, including restaurants, pools and kids’ programs.”

At Santa Lucia Preserve, for example, the community planned to sell 30 new club memberships this spring and summer, but sold 70 new full golf memberships and 43 other social memberships, said Jen Anello, director of sales for The Preserve. The registration fee, which is required to join the private golf club, ranges from $60,000 to $160,000. Annual dues, minimum spending requirements and maintenance fees are also charged to golf club members and vary widely.

“We’ve seen interest in The Preserve change exponentially since the pandemic began,” Ms. Anello said. “Usually it takes people at least two years from their first visit to their purchase decision, but now people make the decision in weeks or months.”

View of the living room from a home in Santa Lucia Preserve, a luxury golf community in California.

Joe Flecher

Isolation and golf lure new residents to island life

In Haig Point, a golf course community on Daufuskie Island, South Carolina, significantly more potential buyers inquired about a property between March 1 and May 15 of this year (795 inquiries) than compared to the same period last year (472), according to Adam Martin, vice president of sales and marketing there.

“We have the lowest number of homes on the market than ever, which in part reflects the fact that a unique form of safety and security is built into the community as it can only be reached by boat,” said Mr Martin. “The number of rounds of golf played in June and July increased by 150% over last year, as golf is a naturally socially distant sport that is played outdoors.”

The initiation fee for golf membership at Haig Point is $20,000.

At Haig Point, about 50% of residents stay year-round, but this year that figure has risen to about 70%, said Doug Egly, the CEO. Haig Point shoppers come from neighboring southern states, the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, and New England, especially cities that have a direct flight to Savannah or Hilton Head.

“We’ve definitely seen a resurgence in golf and a shift in who’s playing as well,” Egly said. “Before it was just the husbands, but now the whole family is playing. The number of golf clinics for children and women has increased. Instead of people playing once a week, our residents play three or four times a week, especially parents who play with their children. »

Ted Lape, a 55-year-old business owner from Columbus, Ohio, and his wife Kelly, a 50-year-old former lawyer, visited Haig Point for decades before the Covid-19 pandemic prompted them to buy there. They closed a $904,000 property in June.

“We have a sophomore in college, a freshman in college, and a ninth-grader who were all doing virtual learning in a rented house in Haig Point in April,” Lape said. . “We were golfing every day between virtual school and remote work, and we decided it was time to buy here.”

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The Haig Point golf course is accessible to all skill levels, making it easier for the whole family to enjoy, Lape said.

“What makes Haig Point unique is that it’s a great golf community combined with privacy and the beach,” Mr. Lape said. “It’s always possible to get a tee time and you don’t even see other people or the other holes while you’re playing.”

View of the golf course from a residence at Haig Point, a golf course community on Daufuskie Island, South Carolina.

Courtesy of Haig Point

Area of ​​Arizona with seven golf courses

In Scottsdale, Arizona, the Desert Mountain golf course community saw rounds of golf increase from 27,438 played from May to July last year to 39,579 played in the same months in 2020, according to Nicole Forbes , Director of Community Membership Sales. In addition, 50 new golf memberships were sold in June, July and August of this year, compared to 31 during the same period in 2019. The membership fee for the golf membership is $30,000 at Desert Mountain.

“We’ve also seen a change this year in our homebuyers,” Ms. Forbes said. “It used to take two to five years to view and buy a house, but this spring and summer people are buying within 30 to 60 days. Most people used to buy second homes here and then move there full time, but now the majority of buyers are planning to make it their main residence.

The increase in golfers includes more women and children than in the past at Desert Mountain’s seven golf courses, said Kim Atkinson, director of community marketing and communications.

“Over the past few years we’ve seen a shift to more families with young children moving here, so during the pandemic we’ve converted our youth activity center into a socially distanced virtual classroom, offered tutoring and more activities for the kids,” Ms. Forbes said. “Golf courses are a big driver for home purchases, not just for players, but also because people love the canvas of all year-round green grass outside their windows.”

Texas Hill Country enhanced with golf

At Cordillera Ranch in Boerne, Texas, about 20 minutes north of San Antonio, the number of home purchase requests began to climb from mid-April and continued on an upward trajectory through May, June and July, according to Charlie Hill, president and COO of DH Investments, developers of Cordillera Ranch.

“About 90% of our buyers live here full-time, with a lot of young families, in particular, moving here in recent years,” Hill said. “Golf is the lifeblood of the community, especially this year. Normally we see the number of rounds played increase by 2-3% per year, but this year the number of rounds played so far is up 50% compared to 2019.”

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Most Cordillera Ranch buyers buy golf memberships, Hill said. The membership fee for membership is $70,000.

“Golf is the main draw, but this year, especially, people are also loving the access to parks, trails, the equestrian center and the river,” Hill said. “Most of our properties are one to three acres in size and we offer plenty of outdoor activities. Our buyers are happy to get away from the confines and chaos of cities.

This article originally appeared on World Mansion.


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