Golf Course Living

By Beacon Staff

Golf is a maddening, frustrating, challenging, wonderful and highly addictive game to anyone who has seriously picked up the clubs. Often it is one really good shot, possibly late in the round, that brings converts back to the course the next time, to see if they can expand on that success. But would you want to live on a course? For many years, and in many places throughout the country, that answer has been “yes.”

The beautifully manicured green spaces, trees and ponds that are features of many golf courses have added a premium price to property lots bordering them. Surveys in some subdivisions have shown that only 29 percent of the owners even play the game regularly, so that appeal of wide-open space and “exclusivity” that comes with living on a golf course is prized by non-golfers as well. Buyers believe that the well-cared-for space will always be there – that no one will ever build in that open area.

Accessibility is a huge factor for those golf enthusiasts who want to play golf every day. Being able to hop in your golf cart and be on the first tee in a few minutes is a real possibility at many courses. The associated amenities – the clubhouse and pro shop, driving range and practice facilities, and oftentimes pools, tennis courts and health and fitness facilities are also big drawing cards for golf course living.

In addition, there are often a variety of housing choices to be made – from condominium or townhouse units to individually designed custom homes. This allows a full spectrum of homebuyers that share the common bond of desiring to live on a golf course.

That’s not to say you don’t need to do your homework when it comes to picking a lot to build on, or purchase a home that’s already built on a golf course. Be very careful choosing a spot that is somewhere between 150 to 250 yards off a par-4 or par-5 tee box, especially on the right side of the fairway – this would be “slicer’s paradise,” and many less-skilled golfer tend to slice the ball. If you’re a light sleeper, the sounds of mowers in the very early morning, taking the top off the grass on greens and tee boxes, might stir you into an early breakfast. And regardless of what his/her personal net worth might be, it’s unlikely you’ll ever see a golfer willing to leave a $5 Titleist on someone’s lawn, so be prepared for some visitors. Oh, and you may occasionally hear a bad word or two spoken (refer back to first line of this article).

The Flathead Valley has escaped most of the national “perfect storm” where an over-built golf course property market, a drop in the number of players, and a declining real estate market collided in the downturn. While the golf industry lost nearly 3 million players between 2000 and 2010, according to the National Golf Foundation, the valley has actually seen a rise of between 5 and 7 percent in rounds played in the past year, in part because of our Canadian neighbors to the north. Golf remains very affordable here, whether through a season pass or daily fees. The affordability of housing in the Flathead is the highest that it’s been in many, many years! Variety is superb – everything from smaller, manufactured units to multi-million dollar private estates depending on the course selected.

So if you’re one of those people attracted to the lush, green, open spaces of a golf course in the Flathead valley, don’t put off your decision. It’s been years since that option will cost you so little!

Alice Ritzman is a former member of the LPGA and a current realtor at West Venture Real Estate.

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