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Ace in the Hole: Golf Communities See an Upswing in New Buyers

Popularity of golf communities

Golf communities are back! Late last year, The Wall Street Journal reported that golf communities were seeing a resurgence in popularity, in large part due to some unforeseen effects of the pandemic.

How COVID-19 Has Driven Interest in Golf Communities

According to that same Wall Street Journal article, Americans played 10 million more rounds of golf in August 2020 than in the same month of 2019. The trend continued into 2021, which all translates to increased interest in living near golf courses.

The rapid rise in tee times isn’t a surprise, really. As remote work has become more widespread, those pining for the golf lifestyle now find it much more attainable. Couple that with the millions who have opted for early retirement, and it all adds up to a substantial spike in demand for golf course memberships and homes.

In PCR’s 2022 Survey of Homebuyers and Renters Researching Lifestyle Communities Report, ‘being near a golf course’ was the second most popular choice (behind only “near the beach”) when homebuyers were asked where they were looking to relocate.

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Golf Community Real Estate Boom

Not surprisingly, golf’s post-pandemic surge in popularity has led to a white-hot golf real estate market. According to 59 Club USA, a company that analyzes customer service and trends in the golf industry, some areas have seen interest in golf reach all-time highs.

“Most of our clients are having record years in rounds of golf played and golf club memberships sold,” says Mike Kelly, 59 Club USA’s managing partner. “Those that are selling real estate into these environments, especially those in more vacation-like settings away from bigger cities, are also seeing great results this year.”

It’s all backed up by the booming sales numbers being recorded by golf communities across the country.

A recent report from Golf Datatech and National Golf Foundation shows the sales of golf community homes are undoubtedly on the upswing. Luxury home builders and PCR client known as The Cliffs is made up of several residential golf communities located in the Carolinas. They saw sales volume increase by 161% in the third quarter compared to one year ago.

Yet another PCR client—Desert Mountain golf club community in Scottsdale—has doubled its number of homes under contract compared to last year.

For many homebuyers, it’s now all about safety, security, and of course the unbeatable benefits and amenities that go part and parcel with community residency and membership. The best part for homeowners and potential buyers in golf communities? Studies show that homes in golf course communities hold their value better than other homes. So if/when the bubble bursts on the current market and things cool off a bit, purchasing a golf community home right now comes with far less risk.

The Golf Community Comeback

Interestingly, it’s not just golfers who are seeing the immense benefits that come with the country club lifestyle. The undeniable long-term impact of a sweeping pandemic has people of all ages, demographics, and lifestyle preferences pining to settle down in less populated areas—surrounded by miles of walking trails, an abundance of outdoor activities, and comprehensive health and wellness programs and facilities. All of which can be found in almost every master-planned golf community.

2022 survey report amenities preferences
Breakdown of responses to “Amenities” question in recent PCR survey of lifestyle community homebuyers and renters.

In the PCR survey we referenced earlier, 83% of respondents cited “active lifestyle amenities” as the reason they want to live in a community—specifically selecting swimming pools (74%), walking/biking trails (73%), and fitness centers (67%) as their most-preferred amenities. Another 39% said golf is something their community must offer.

So by all accounts, the comeback of golf communities is here to stay. Even as the world opens back up and we reset our lives and routines, some impacts are irreversible. When it comes to where and how we want to live, our mindset has shifted, leaving many flocking for a life of wider fairways and smoother greens.

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