Three Hot Golf Markets to Watch in 2023
The real estate market might be cooling off nationally, with mortgage rates higher than they’ve been in over a decade. Aggregating all the data, it certainly appears that the seller’s market of 2020 and 2021 is gone, and an equilibrium is emerging. But just as it’s been since mid-2020, private golf communities in the Sun Belt continue to buck the trends. Here are three markets to watch in 2023 as golf participation continues to surge.
There are currently two schools of thought about Southwest Florida golf real estate due to Hurricane Ian. One school is forecasting continued historic levels of demand from retirees and those with flexible work-from-home situations. Others are taking a wait-and-see approach and feel home prices will either stagnate or drop. The good news for golf communities? Demand for private club membership will continue to surge no matter which scenario plays out.
In fact, numerous Naples-area golf clubs are reporting wait lists ranging from one to four years. Many prospective members are paying to remain on these lists while receiving limited access to tee times during their wait. The Club at Olde Cypress, situated conveniently between Naples and Bonita Springs, is offering an associate golf membership that grants unlimited access to the club and unlimited golf during the summer but limits tee times during the peak season.
Pound for pound, no two cities in the U.S. have been hotter for relocations over the past three years than Greenville, S.C. and Asheville, N.C. While just an hour-and-a-half a part, Greenville boasts a true year-round golf climate, while Asheville receives up to a foot of snow annually. The regional private community market is dominated by The Cliffs Communities, which include seven championship-caliber golf courses.
Have-clubs-will-relocate golfers in search of a lower-key and laid-back private community lifestyle have been flocking to Champion Hills in Hendersonville, N.C., since 2020. The club features a Tom Fazio-designed mountain golf masterpiece that served as Fazio’s home course for several years. His office is just minutes away in charming downtown. Champion Hills has luxury mountain homes on and off the course, and various-sized lots for custom builds.
Private clubs requiring upfront initiation fees and substantial monthly dues aren’t always the best fit for golfers on a budget. And that’s where Rumbling Bald on Lake Lure, an hour east of Asheville, comes in. The expansive property on North Carolina’s Lake Lure is home to two 18-hole courses, Apple Valley and Bald Mountain. There’s no initiation fee to join the semi-private club, and monthly dues are $246 for residents or $411 for a family membership.
No major U.S. market was a more pronounced seller’s market from mid-2020 to mid-2022 than Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tempe. Home prices doubled almost overnight, and the demand for memberships at the Valley of the Sun’s myriad private clubs surged in concert with golf real estate. The epicenter of private golf in the region is Scottsdale, and the golf hotbed boasted seven of the top 10 most expensive zip codes for home prices in 2022.
A decade ago, it was hard to imagine a club like Desert Mountain in Scottsdale flourishing. With six 18-hole courses, demand had waned in relation to the supply of retirement-aged golfers with the buying power to afford the formidable initiation fee and dues. Fast-forward 10 years, and not only are those 108 holes teeming with members, but Desert Mountain also recently built a new short course. “No. 7” was designed by landscape architect Wendell Pickett, and real estate developer Bill Brownlee is 3,114 yards and can be played in just two hours and 45 minutes.
And then there’s Mesa Country Club, made famous over the past few years by member and PGA TOUR player Joel Dahmen. For those trying to figure out why Dahmen didn’t join Whisper Rock or some other high-profile Scottsdale club, the course at “MCC” was designed by William Bell, who designed the South Course at Torrey Pines. The course is decidedly traditional and features lush vegetation, wall-to-wall grass, and towering trees reminiscent of a Midwestern parkland layout.