The Long History of Golf Community Living
Temple Terrace, in the Tampa region of Florida, was the country’s first planned golf course living community. It was conceived as a winter golf escape for the wealthy during the “Roaring 20s.” Most occupants in the community only spent 2-3 months a year in their winter homes. Golf was still the sport of kings at the time and had not been discovered by many. Bobby Jones’s immense popularity brought the game to the spotlight with over 250,000 people playing golf by 1930. It was not until the 1950s that the first real golf boom happened, with Arnold Palmer emerging on the scene as one of the game’s greatest ambassadors. It is often said that no person ever had, or will have, the impact that Arnold Palmer had upon the game.
In 1965 Arnold Palmer played in a charity exhibition at The Bay Hill Golf Club and fell in love with the facility. Palmer signed a 5-year lease in 1970 with the option to buy Bay Hill, which he did in 1975. He envisioned the Bay Hill property as a top-ranked golf club with vast amenities for members and residents. He successfully negotiated a PGA Tour event at the facility that began in 1979 and is known today as the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Bay Hill soon became one of the most popular golf living communities in Florida with its quaint 70-room lodge and vast amenities.
Arnold Palmer loved Bay Hill; it was his sanctuary and he loved being on the property. His daily routine was to wake each day at 5 am, go for a jog or walk with his dog, then work out in the gym and have breakfast. He would get to his office daily above the pro shop by 8 am. Doc Griffin, Palmer’s right-hand man, said, “It was always difficult to get Mr. Palmer to leave Bay Hill, he truly loved the community, the people, the facilities, and his life here. It was Arnold Palmer’s personal golf living place most of the year.”
By 2010 there were nearly 16,000 golf courses in America of which 3200 or 20% were developed golf course communities. Demand has boomed tremendously over the last 5 years, with increased demand for secure gated, amenity-rich developments where both retirees and families can enjoy more activities and a better-quality life. While golf is a major drawing card for buyers, green open spaces, and protected and well-maintained facilities with endless amenities and activities make these communities top of the list for many others.
Florida leads the way with total golf communities at over 850, but development in many other states is on the rise, including northern and central U.S. regions. The largest golf course community in the country is the Villages in Florida with over 57,000 homes, over 130,000 residents, and over 711 golf holes, on 50 golf courses, all on 33,000 Acres. Lakewood Ranch near Sarasota Florida is also 33,000 acres, with 55,000 residents living in 25 distinct villages in 21,000 homes. In 2020, Best Health & Fitness named Lakewood Ranch the “Best Wellness Community.”
In every region in the country, there are wonderful golf-living communities that offer an array of amenities and living choices for all seasons. It really comes down to personal preference of proximity, seasons, and terrain. If you are fortunate enough to have the resources, having a summer home in a beautiful 4-season golf community in the North and a winter golf home in Florida or the Southwest is the perfect mix. It means optimum playing conditions year-round and great options for winter getaways for your entire family.
In this issue, we take a peek at some great facilities north to south along the east coast, from New England to Florida. Some along the coast and others inland in more rural areas as well. Many people prefer to see the seasons change and that can be found as far south as Tennessee and Georgia. For many, Florida is the ultimate destination for warm rounds all winter long and great shoulder seasons in spring and fall. Golf course living communities offer unlimited active lifestyles with not only golf but racquet sports, walking, biking, boating, and a plethora of social activities. The best way to find what’s best for you and your life is to go visit, stay, play and participate. You won’t know unless you go!
10 Great Golf Course Communities
Quechee Vermont, Quechee Lakes Club
The Quechee Club is one of those special places that connect us back with family, nature, and the seasons of life. The resort and community sit on 5200 acres of mountains, lakes, and picturesque valley forested land. This living playground has two world-class championship golf courses, tennis facilities, downhill and cross-country skiing, an indoor/outdoor aquatics fitness center, and more. The quiet and pristine stature of Vermont’s majestic Green Mountains offers an unprecedented backdrop for a rich and rewarding living experience in every season of the year.
Mattapoisett Massachusetts, The Bay Club Mattapoisett
The Bay Club at Mattapoisett is a private golf and lifestyle community on 625 rolling wooded acres near the shores of Buzzard’s Bay (close to Cape Cod). Member-owned, the club is built around a Brad Faxon-Brad Booth championship golf course and also features racquet sports, gourmet dining, and many other athletic and cultural pursuits all within its gates. It has a Silver Sanctuary Rating from Audubon International, one of just 66 communities worldwide.
East Haddam Connecticut, The Fox Hopyard Community
Situated in the heart of the Devils Hopyard State Park in Central Connecticut, the Fox Hopyard Community is one of the Northeast’s most unique offerings. Fox Hopyard is another Audubon Sanctuary in the making, and with 1000 recreational acres of forest, waterfalls, lakes, streams, and hiking trails, it’s a naturalist dream. Spectacular golf in the picturesque Connecticut hills offering custom home opportunities throughout.
Middleburg Northern Virginia, Creighton Farms Community
Creighton Farms is a majestic 900-acre sanctuary situated between the quaint, historic towns of Middleburg and Leesburg in picturesque Northern Virginia horse country, with the idyllic Blue Ridge and Bull Run Mountains as its backdrop. A spectacular club, with rich amenities and stately homes in Virginia horse country.
Cape Charles Coastal Virginia, Bay Creek Community
Bay Creek is a Chesapeake Bay Cape Charles community of extraordinary beauty and unparalleled coastal lifestyle is home to signature golf courses by Palmer and Nicklaus. The Bay Creek offers vast amenities including restaurants, walking and biking trails, and a delightfully diverse selection of new homes and custom homesites. Choose from a collection of new custom–designed coastal cottages just steps from private sandy beaches.
Lenoir City East Tennessee, Wind River Community
Wind River is an awe-inspiring, yet charming master-planned community positioned alongside the beautiful, blue waters of Lake Tellico, with views of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Golf designed by Jack Nicklaus’s protege, Bob Cupp, with expansive practice facilities. The first Audubon Course in Tennessee with spectacular shoreline homes and villas.
Aiken South Carolina, Woodside Community
Woodside is located in rural Aiken, Georgia just 20 miles from Augusta National Golf Club. There are a full array of amenities including 3 championship designed by Jack Nicklaus and Clyde Johnson and a 9-hole course as well. There are both lakeside and golf course home options with stunning vistas of this southern historic region.
Savannah Georgia, The Landings Club
The Landings Golf & Athletic Club on Skidaway Island is a private, residential golf and athletic club located 12 miles from historic Savannah, Georgia, The Club offers members access to six championship golf courses, two of which were designed by Arnold Palmer within a 6100-acre gated community with vast amenities and four clubhouses.
St Augustine Florida, World Golf Village
World Golf Village in historic St. Augustine offers championship golf courses, excellent dining, beautiful accommodations, and several communities to choose from. Home and neighborhoods are tucked away on treed homesites and streets that intertwine with thousands of acres of nature preserves and unspoiled uplands.
Lecanto Florida, Black Diamond Ranch
Set within a majestic Florida landscape, Black Diamond Ranch beckons with the quiet beauty of rolling sand hills, and an abundance of oaks in a spectacular designed quarry property nestled into Florida’s Nature Coast. This backdrop spans 1200 lush acres and provides the setting for 750 home sites.