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Golf tees and greens make nifty backyards for homeowners

Communities built around golf courses have been around for a long time. But today golf course communities seem to be increasing in popularity, in part because there are more affordable options than were often available in the past.

“Home lots on golf courses used to be very expensive,” says Margo Coleman, executive director, Mississippi Golf Association (MGA). “Now they are a lot more affordable. Golf course communities are popular all over the state. Golf is growing nationally, and it is really growing in Mississippi.”

Coleman and her husband live at Patrick Farms, a golf course subdivision in metro Jackson.

“You have entertainment,” Coleman said. “If you do play golf — and most of the time if people live in golf course communities they play golf — it is easily accessible. It is also fun to watch other people playing golf. It is a nice drive home through the subdivision to see people playing golf.”

New courses are popping up all over the state, and many have housing developments associated with them. Some like The Oaks in Pass Christian start out as a golf course only, and later add a housing development.

Coleman said she believes that homes on high-quality golf courses retain their value well, and may appreciate in value faster than other types of homes without any special amenities such as a golf course or waterfront feature.

As the popularity of golf increases, it follows naturally that homes located around golf courses would also be in demand.

“More people are learning to play golf for business and for pleasure,” Coleman said. “Living in a golf course community makes it more easily accessible. It is easy to get in a golf cart, and drive to tee off, rather than driving 15 miles to a nearby golf course.”

The Shell Landing Golf Club in Gautier was recently named as one of the nation’s top five new upscale public courses in the January issue of Golf Digest magazine. Shell Landing is a gated community, a rarity on the Coast.

“A lot of professional people are building here and are doing that for the safety of a gated community,” says Sara Moore, Shell Landing onsite Realtor with Coldwell Banker Smith Homes Inc. Realtors. “Only about half of the people who bought lots in here actually play golf. But they love the area. We have very strict covenants, so they know their house value will be there. Retirees like it because they can travel knowing they are protected by the security guard who is here 24 hours per day.”

Moore said many of the “snowbird” visitors finish a round of golf saying they want to turn around and play it again because it is such a beautiful, well-maintained golf course.

“When you come across the bridge to Shell Landing it is like you are no longer in South Mississippi because you see rolling terrain,” Moore said. “The entire golf course has that. Our elevation here is a good bit above Pascagoula. Our street out here is at 17 feet. Pascagoula is at 13 feet. We are very environmentally friendly. We even have 16 acres fenced off for gopher tortoise turtles that are an endangered species.”

At the other end of the state, two golf course communities — Cherokee Valley Golf Club and Plantation Golf Club in Olive Branch — also attract many residents because of scenic beauty.

“The beauty and serenity increase property values,” says Mike Herrington, owner-manager of the Plantation Golf Club. “Property values for golf course homes improve faster than other types of homes if it is a viable golf course, a nice golf course with an ownership that keeps the property up. We have an upscale daily fee course with some limited membership. We do our best to keep it in tip-top shape, and properly values I would guess are 25%to 30% higher than in a regular subdivision.”

What is attractive to potential homeowners is something extra, such as a golf course, lake, coastal property or all of the above.

Herrington said there has been a proliferation of golf course communities throughout the country for decades now. But he isn’t sure what the future holds with the current slowdown in the economy.

“There are fewer golf courses on the boards now than before the economic downturn and 9-11,” Herrington said. “I think it will come back if and when prosperity returns. “

Appraiser Chris Rogers, Rogers Realty and Appraisal Co., Tupelo, said the issue of whether homes in golf course communities increase in value faster than homes in other types of subdivisions depends on the quality of the development. He observes that homes at the two golf course developments in Tupelo, the Tupelo Country Club and Big Oaks, are increasing in value at a rate of about 3% to 5% per year. That is about the same appreciation in value seen at high-quality subdivisions that aren’t located next to a golf course.

“Our golf course neighborhoods are good,” Rogers said. “I’m sure you have some that are not as good. They don’t take care of the course. Sometimes you will see a decline in residential values if the course is not of quality and in favor with golfers. If you have good quality neighborhoods whether next to a golf course or not, it will increase in value.”

Accessibility to play golf is the number one attraction to golf course communities, Roger said. “A hard-line golfer loves to get home, walk right out there and play golf,” Rogers said. “That is an advantage of living on the course.”

Rogers said that while he hasn’t done appraisals there, he suspects that home values do appreciate faster at courses like Old Waverly in West Point, which is considered one of the top courses in Mississippi.

“Waverly is very special and upscale,” he said. “It is nationally known.”

Contact MBJ contributing writer Becky Gillette at bgillette@bellsouth.net.

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