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Golf courses, real estate: No happy marriage for grand old game

Brandon TuckerBy Brandon Tucker,
Managing Editor
Golf course housing
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Houses are usually dangerously close to landing zones, but are the players to blame for errant shots? (Brandon Tucker/WorldGolf.com)

Golf-course communities changed the face of the game as they began sprouting up across the nation in the early '90s. I always thought the main appeal was being able to go outside after dinner to an empty course where you can play a few holes or work on your short game.

Free, easily accessible golf. What could be better?

How ignorant I was.

This was before I knew much about real estate developers, property investing and senile non-golfers who believe spending a lot of money somehow indemnifies them from being hit by golf balls despite living 20 yards from a fairway.

It baffles me that so many people who don't golf buy homes on golf courses (they make up about half the market). But it certainly explains the attitude you get when your ball lands in their backyard. Many seem clueless about how errant most golfers' shots are, and consequently how many times balls end up in their yard or through their window.

But they're apparently willing to put up with the occasional shot off their roof to bask in the almost sure bet of an equity payoff - golf-course homes are worth about triple the average U.S. house.

No, it's golfers who are the big losers. Houses on golf courses, no matter how pretty or impressive, are an eyesore to those of us playing through.

Apart from their unnatural, often redundant aesthetics, these houses make the golf more difficult, crowding out-of-bounds areas into each hole, sometimes on both sides. They discourage walking because architects route courses through subdivisions over large acreage.

And on weekends, golfers are treated to the sights and sounds of little Jimmy's birthday party in the backyard, complete with music, pinata and two dozen screaming tykes splashing in a pool as we try and line up a six-footer to halve our match.

We golfers have become second-class citizens in our own backyard. Our "good walk spoiled" has become a "good walk intruded upon."

We can't even gingerly take two steps into someone's back yard to retrieve a $3 Pro VI in plain view without being yelled at from the kitchen window. Would you do the same if a kid ran onto your front lawn to retrieve a stray Frisbee?

The homeowner usually claims trespassing or invasion of privacy - valid points if a golfer strolls into the family room and starts mixing up a cocktail. But we're simply trying to make it around a course that's gotten infinitely more difficult since all these houses sprouted up steps from our landing zones.

I urge those of you complaining about errant balls and trolling golfers to take a quick dose of reality.

If you buy an apartment a block from Times Square, you aren't going to complain about noise. If you buy a house on the Gulf Coast, you can't be surprised when a hurricane blows your roof off.

And if you have a home within 100 yards of a golf course, plan on balls bombing your roof, garage and pool. Plan on polo-clad strangers strolling through the gate, looking through your flowers and hitting their ball from your precious yard.

If you can learn to understand us a little more, maybe this poorly conceived marriage will be a little less painful for the both of us.

It makes me pine all the more for the classic munis and country clubs, where you can spray a drive two fairways over then hit an iron back over some trees onto the green for par. Fellow golfers won't ream you when you cross into their fairway to play your shot.

They understand.

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Brandon Tucker is the Managing Editor for Golf Advisor. To date, his golf travels have taken him to over two dozen countries and over 500 golf courses worldwide. While he's played some of the most prestigious courses in the world, Tucker's favorite way to play the game is on a great muni in under three hours. Follow Brandon on Twitter at @BrandonTucker and on Instagram at BrandonTuckerGC.

Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • Getting real about real estate and golf

    Larry Gavrich wrote on: Aug 17, 2007

    Brandon Tucker needs to get his game in order. I've played more than 80 golf courses in residential communities over the last two years, and no more than a dozen had out-of-bounds markers within reach of any but the most prodigious hookers (or slicers). The best architects -- Dye, Fazio, Nicklaus -- insist on working with enough land to keep backyards well off the fairways. More often than not, natural or manmade features buffer the homes from errant tee shots. At Champion Hills in Hendersonville, NC, for example, Tom Fazio carved his fairways well below the line of expensive homes. At Pete Dye's underated Ogeeche course at Ford Plantation, near Savannah, you never see more than a handful of houses...in the distance. Sure, some developers are greedy and maximize the lots directly on the course, but that is the exception rather than the rule. If Mr. Tucker finds himself tip toeing through someone's tulips, he either needs to get his game in order or choose to play one of the many outstanding community golf courses. I am happy to furnish a list.
    Larry Gavrich