It’s taking place: Younger persons are transferring to golf communities

This article is reprinted by permission from The Escape Home, a newsletter for second homeowners and those who want to be. Subscribe here. © 2021. All rights reserved. 

Just over a year ago, private golf communities were worried about their future appeal to homebuyers. Then came Covid-19. Then came potential homebuyers. Then came waiting lists and inflated home prices. 

Scottsdale, Ariz.

Phil Johnson with Pro Visuals Media for Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty

“It went from famine to feast,” said Jason Becker, CEO and co-founder of Golf Life Navigators, which is based in South Florida. “This time last year, the club industry was very unsettled because we didn’t know how members would react to Covid, the economy and political landscape. Then golf took off. It went from one extreme to the next.”

A number of factors coalesced to form this perfect real estate storm. Interest rates are still at historic lows. The stock market has gone up significantly in the last 10 months. More people are working remotely, which means they can live anywhere. And on an emotional level, people want to feel safe and be in a controlled environment that gives them the opportunity to spend time outdoors. 

“We are certainly seeing increased interest in buyers looking to purchase a home in golf communities,” said Philip White, president and CEO of Sotheby’s International Realty. “The pandemic accelerated plans for people who were planning to retire or semi-retire in areas where they can also play golf, such as Scottsdale, Ariz., Florida, and more.”

Scottsdale, Ariz.

Phil Johnson with Pro Visuals Media for Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty

Sotheby’s International Realty’s most recent Luxury Outlook report found that more than ever, consumers are attracted to homes that enhance their lifestyle interests. 

“This is especially true among millennials who often gravitate toward listings and locations that align with their active and entertainment-focused hobbies,” White said.

Which leads to another new development: Golf is not just your grandfather’s sport anymore. Younger people are picking up golf clubs too.  

“In the past people were saying: ‘I don’t want to live in Del Boca Vista like Jerry Seinfeld’s parents,’” Becker said. Now, the likes of Del Boca Vista sound more appealing. “I can be outside and not be secluded,” he said. “That’s given the clubs such a great opportunity. These club communities are going to be in a good position going forward.”

Newport Beach, Calif.

Modern Take for Pacific Sotheby’s International Realty

Gated golf communities had the right formula to withstand the pandemic. They already offered lots of green space for outdoor activities. But many also instituted policies such as requiring guests to show proof of negative Covid tests and shutting down indoor dining in favor of delivering food to homes from the clubhouse. 

To make their communities more attractive, they also added amenities. 

John Jorritsma, director of sales and marketing at The Club at Ibis in West Palm Beach, Fla., said the club added more outdoor seating for dining, an outdoor gym, a summer kitchen with a pizza oven for outdoor dining events and virtual fitness classes. Members were allowed to ride in carts alone. 

The club also added more takeout food options, and its food truck, called Fork in the Road, delivered ice cream and frozen margaritas to members.   

“We purchased the food truck prior to Covid. However, it was perfect timing because it was heavily used on a daily basis during Covid since our indoor dining was shut down,” Jorritsma said. “We always had take out food, but our orders increased exponentially during Covid.”

It seems to have paid off. From July 1, 2020 to July 1 of this year, the club has had 197 home sales. Historically, it has averaged 110 home sales per year. Of the club’s 1,840 homes, just 16 are available; less than 1% of the inventory.

The ironic result or silver lining to a terrible situation — however one wants to look at it: “Covid might have saved the gated golf community,” Becker said. 

Addison Reserve Country Club, Delray Beach, Fla.

Golf Life Navigators

Golf Life Navigators’ data show that Scottsdale, Ariz.; Naples, Fla.; Palm Beach, Fla. and Hilton Head, S.C., are the most popular golf community markets. But markets such as Houston, Sarasota in Florida and Western North Carolina are all gaining momentum. 

Here’s some more proof of how well the the industry is now doing:

  • In January 2020, 49 percent of more than 7,000 buyers in 15 Sun Belt states (Alabama, California, Georgia, Nevada, to name a few) wanted to live or intended to live in golf communities. After Covid, demand increased to 62 percent of the marketplace. That’s a 13 percent shift in basically 12 months, Becker said.

  • December 2021 golf rounds were up more than 37 percent nationwide, according to Golf Datatech’s monthly report, via the National Golf Foundation. Overall, play during 2020 was up 13.9 percent over 2019, putting the year-end total at around 500 million rounds despite spring shutdowns of courses. Play at private clubs was up 19.9 percent year-over-year, per the National Golf Foundation.

  • Focusing solely on non-retired core golfers, 70 percent indicated they’ve worked remotely at least some of the time over the past year, and the majority found it was easier to get out to play golf, according to the National Golf Foundation. Half said they were playing more golf than usual, especially in the late afternoons and early evenings.

  • Searches from Jan. 1 to June 30 of this year for golf properties saw a 128.26 percent increase when compared to the same time in 2020, according to

  • Demand for golf homes is not keeping up with supply. In Highlands, N.C., The Cullasaja Club typically would have 25 to 30 homes for sales in the years prior to the pandemic. Currently there are six homes, said Doug Treadwell, broker owner of Blue Ocean Real Estate Group in Naples and Pensacola, Fla., and the Highlands, N.C. At Bonita Bay Development in Bonita Springs Fla., prior to the pandemic there would typically be 300 properties for sale across all segments. Today there are just 21 total homes for sale.

Of course, the supply and demand problem means that housing prices have gone up. Becker said the average price of a golf community home in Sun Belt states ranges from $500,000 to $1 million.

“People are buying golf homes sight unseen just looking on FaceTime with real estate agents and paying a premium,” Becker said. 

Treadwell is seeing the same trend in his markets.  

“Three years ago, a house that would sell for $1 million is now going for $1.5 million,” he said.

He doesn’t expect that to change immediately. 

“If I’m going to work from home, I would rather work in a golf course community where I can work and play in the afternoon or get up early in the morning and play before I start working,” he said. “My expectation is that this market, from the level of interest of buyers, will last for another 12 to 18 months.” 

Newport Beach, Calif.

Modern Take for Pacific Sotheby’s International Realty

If you are looking to buy a golf community property, here are some tips from our experts:

Visit the community. Don’t get caught up in the hype and buy a property without physically stepping into it. Talk to other owners and tour surrounding areas. 

Meet with the membership director to ask questions. Becker recommends these: Have there been, or are there, any capital improvements being discussed? If so, what does the master plan entail and how much? Is this something I will have to pay for in terms of an assessment, or does the club have the resources to fund the project?

Find out what amenities the club has to offer other than a golf course. Is there a swimming pool? What are the dining options? What are the wellness and fitness offerings? Are these amenities likely to increase property values? 

Be clear on what your homeowner’s association or membership fee covers.

How private is the private community? 

What are the COVID precautions?

Consider working with a golf-certified real estate agent who can filter options based on club demands and real estate desires. Golf Life Navigators designed the educational platform and has certified 500 agents over the past 36 months. The agents are located from Hawaii to Australia to Pittsburgh and can be found on

This article is reprinted by permission from The Escape Home, a newsletter for second homeowners and those who want to be. Subscribe here. © 2021. All rights reserved. 

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