Lifestyle Blog

Community Golf Course? Some Things to Consider

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Posted by Duane McPherson, CMCA, PCAM® on Jul 25, 2018 8:06:00 AM

"Golf" communities have historically been amongst the most popular specialist recreational communities. In the 1990s, many communities were developed around golf courses, and buyers would pay a premium.


However, golf lacks the popularity it once had, and associations have to consider what they are going to do as the number of rounds diminishes, and the once significant property value increase dwindles. Some courses are closing, and some associations are raising dues to try and save them. If your community is built around a golf course, what should you do?

If you do not own the golf course, then you have little power. Residents will often balk at being obliged to effectively join the club if they do not, in fact, golf. The days when the entire community contained avid golfers are long gone. However, you may feel an obligation to do what you can to save it, and with it your residents' views. So, the question is, should you purchase the golf course?

The answer boils down to the simple fact of demand. How many rounds of golf do your residents play? How much are they willing to pay to keep that privilege? Tracking the former may involve sending out surveys or working with the people managing the golf course. If the course is for the sole use of your residents, then tracking demand is easy (and this also avoids sales tax issues caused by it being a commercial entity), but you will need a high level of demand.

Another factor to consider is whether you have an "anti-golf course" contingent. Some people, while they might appreciate the views, might find the course a nuisance. This is especially true if there is a situation where balls are going out of bounds and landing on private property.

Finally, you need to look at whether the golf course is raising, or lowering, the value of the property. Here, the biggest factor is the effect of golf courses closing. In one Florida neighborhood, the golf course closed and the total drop in value was $24 million. Although golf courses no longer give the value hike they once did, closed golf courses are a problem.

If your golf course is struggling, then, you should start working to save it. Getting financial buy-in from all residents may be a struggle, especially if you have an anti-golf course contingent. Quoting the effect on property values can be key. Another thing to consider is selling the golf course's presence to people who don't play golf. In some places, golf courses are being redeveloped as parks. If you still have a substantial demand for golf, then you can promote other recreational uses for the course. If your development is far enough north to have a decent winter, some courses are finding that grooming trails for cross-country skiing are a perfect solution. You could also poll residents on putting in a footgolf course (you kick a soccer ball into a larger hole). Another thing to consider is allowing unused parts of the course to go "back to nature," providing wildlife habitat. Essentially, if you don't have enough golfers, consider how non-golfers can use the space and then use that to sell a dues increase or club membership to your residents.

Golf communities might not be what they were in the 1990s, but the loss of the golf course to redevelopment or simple neglect can turn your community from a great place to live to a fading one. If you need advice on how to manage a golf course, whether through buying it or working with the owners, talk to GrandManors today.

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Duane McPherson, CMCA, PCAM®

Duane McPherson, CMCA, PCAM®

Over 30 years experience in property and community association management Professional Community Association Manager through the Community Association Institute (CAI) Former GM/CEO of a large-scale association: mixed-use commercial, residential and recreational Contributor to National industry experience