April 20, 2018

What Will Replace Golf Course Communities?

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What Will Replace Golf Course Communities?

More than 800 golf courses have closed nationwide in the last 10 years, as interest wanes in the sport. Even if their particular course it still open, some home owners who paid a premium to live nearby may be finding their property values slip. And others are fearful of what will happen if the golf course they paid to live on closes.

The golf industry boomed in the 1990s and early 2000s, prompting developers to use golf course as amenities to sell homes. But participation in golf has dropped 20 percent since 2003, according to National Golf Foundation data. Homebuilders are moving on to new types of recreational amenities to lure buyers – such as manmade lakes and agricultural communities.

Learn about the rising popularity of agrihoods.

As such, some developers are now looking for a way out of the golf courses they built. Some are donating the land to nature trusts and local parks. Others have sold their land to builders for the construction of new homes.  

Home owners who paid to live on a golf course are often upset to learn about new plans that include replacing a nearby course. One such feud is brewing in Phoenix’s Ahwatukee Lakes Golf Course. The golf course was closed down several years ago and barbed-wire fences were placed around it, prompting home owners to complain it was becoming an eyesore. A fire at the golf clubhouse made matters worse, and led to accusations that the fire was intentionally set. Police continue to investigate. The golf course owner sold the property to True Life Companies, which recently unveiled plans to redevelop the golf course into an agricultural community with a community garden, Montessori school, and a few hundred homes.

"They’re going to do whatever they can do to convince owners that they’d be better off with housing," Linda Swain, one of the home owners suing to reopen the course, told Bloomberg. To get the new plan moving, more than 2,600 residents will have to approve it – or 50 percent of the local homeowner association.

But home owners who have faced years of a closed golf course near their lots may eventually warm to the plan, says David Sabow, managing director at True Life Companies.

"We spent a lot of time and effort to come up with a plan that the community would welcome," Sabow told Bloomberg. "As far as I’m concerned, the property will never be a golf course again. … People don't like change. But the golf industry is in even worse shape today than it was in 2013 when I closed the course."

Source: “America’s Golf Courses Are Burning,” National Real Estate Investor (Aug. 15, 2016)