OBJECTIVE, UNBIASED AND ALTOGETHER HELPFUL

Golf Community Reviews

Text Size

    My wife and I often talk about a retirement that would have us in two homes - one in a city with entertainment, culture and restaurant options within walking distance, and the other in a golf course community where the course and clubhouse could also be reached by a walk or short drive.
    LandMar, the development company headquartered in Jacksonville, FL, must be mind readers.  The company just announced a golfing incentive for residents of their Shipyards complex along the river in downtown Jacksonville.  For those who purchase at Shipyards' first tower, which is currently under construction, the company is offering free membership at its North Hampton course, an Arnold Palmer design that is the best of the King's courses that I have played (Note:  We review it and other golf course communities north of Jacksonville in the current June issue of the HomeOnTheCourse Community Guide). 

    By joining Shipyards' "InnerCircle," residents of the high-rise condominium will receive membership without the customary $6,000 initiation fee.  And because the course is just outside the 30-mile limit that defines non-resident dues status, Shipyards residents will pay reduced monthly dues.  In addition, members will enjoy reciprocal golfing privileges at Landmar's seven other courses within 45 minutes of Jacksonville, an attractive feature of all LandMar course memberships.     

    Shipyards offers homes that range from 800 square feet to 3,900 square feet in one, two and three-bedroom configurations at prices from the $300s into the millions.  Hotels and retail establishments are also planned for the complex.

hotc-logoHome On The Course newsletter

Click here to sign up for our Free monthly newsletter, loaded with helpful information and observations about golf communities and their golf courses.

100_0881keevin

Non-equestrian golfers might want to stop and ask who will pay eventually for equestrian centers in communities like this one at The Cliffs at Keowee Vineyards.

 

    I like horses, especially at Kentucky Derby time. I would not mind living in a community with horses.  When I toured Mount Vintage Plantation in Aiken, SC, last year, the sight of the stallions behind the white fences in someone's front yard was picture postcard perfect.
    I have nothing against physical fitness either, and admire those who jog, pump iron and work the treadmill on a regular basis.  I am jealous of their discipline (and their lack of body fat).

    In the push to be competitive, new golfing communities are loading up on the amenities, not just lavish equestrian and fitness centers, but also spas, swimming pools with waterfalls, full-time naturalists and marinas.  This is great stuff, but raises some questions:  How many amenities will you use on a regular basis?  How much will they cost you (if not today then down the line)?  And will the extras affect positively the value of your home when it comes time to sell?    

    If you are a fit-as-a-fiddle, three-day-week-golfer who rides horses another three days a week, works out four days as well and takes contemplative walks with the community's naturalist, then a place like The Cliffs Communities or one of the other amenities-loaded developments will have strong appeal.  But, come on, how many of us have the time, dedication and discretionary assets to indulge in so many passions?  If you are "just" a golfer, do you want to subsidize the activities of others in exchange for the prestige of living in a community with a wide range of activities?

    Someone has to pay for the amenities.  Initially it is the developer, who uses them as a lure to sell lots and homes.  A wide range of amenities will appeal to the widest possible market of potential buyers.  You can't blame them from a marketing standpoint and, certainly, no one minds sharing space at this point with those who have passions other than our own.    

    But someday the piper must be paid.  Developers will turn over the community to the homeowners - it is required by state law in most places - and then comes the day of reckoning.  In well-planned transitions, the owners know what to expect in terms of increased dues, and the process is relatively painless (but the dues always rise).  But in other cases, sticker shock sets in, with some tough choices needing to be made about who pays for what and how much.  Sometimes the alternatives are to turn the activity over to some outside manager who then charges an extra fee to use the facilities.  Whatever the outcome, the discussion can pit golfers against horse lovers, boat owners and nature lovers.  All those amenities that gave the community a certain cachet start to look like expensive luxuries.    

    The effect of the amenities on the value of your home is a tougher question.  If you have faith in the wisdom and business acumen of developers, then you can count on the value of the amenities being built into the initial price of the home you buy in an amenities-loaded community.  In that case you hope when it comes time to sell that some golf nut, horse nut or fitness nut interested in your house will be happy to pony up a price for the value of the amenities and won't be daunted by whatever the homeowner association dues are set at.

    A few simple things to keep in mind when looking at property in one of these amenities-loaded communities:

    Ask how the amenities are paid for.  What is the history of dues increases for the homeowners?  If the developer is subsidizing the amenities, what is the plan for turning them over to the homeowners or a management company?  When will the turnover occur?

    Golfers who don't want to subsidize the passions of others have a viable alternative that could shave a few hundred thousand dollars off their home price and a few hundred a month in dues.  Consider purchasing a home that is not inside a gated or golfing community but is close to a good private or semi-private country club.  Many of the nation's nicest country clubs are hungry for new members.  I've visited and played some excellent private courses, including the Fazio-designed Thornblade Club in Greer, SC, a sleek layout set right in the middle of an unaffiliated community (pro golfer Jay Haas lives in a house overlooking the course).  Homes run anywhere from about $400,000 for a condo overlooking the course to $1 million or more for a large single-family home. 

    Fox Den Country Club in Farragut, TN, near Knoxville, is set within a neighborhood of older homes that are quite reasonably priced.  Fox Den is a classic that plays host to an annual Nationwide Tour event.  So too does Rock Barn in Conover, NC, home of the Senior Tour's Greater Hickory Classic.  Rock Barn offers two 18-hole courses, one by Robert Trent Jones, Jr, and the other by Tom Jackson, and membership confers use as well of the community's spa and health facilities.

    One other option is to join a golf club that is inside a community without actually living in the community.  Many in-community clubs offer non-resident golf memberships.  Should you lose that $5 Nassau to a fellow member who happens to live inside the gates, you can hand over the money with a smile, content in the knowledge that you may have paid a lot less for your comparable home than he did.

    Note:  As a service to our readers, we would be happy to put you in touch with a real estate agent whom we have qualified as knowledgeable about golf course communtiies in these areas.

100_2989rkbrn

One of the two Rock Barn golf club courses sports plenty of rocks and typical Trent Jones, Jr. sand bunkers.  The course plays host to a Senior PGA event.

Sunday, 03 June 2007 01:01

Playing poorly but learning something

    My friend and subscriber to HomeOnTheCourse, Bill Miller, and I are playing in our club's major member/member tournament this weekend.  After losing our first nine hole match on Friday, we won the next two and started thinking good thoughts.  Then yesterday we had bogeyitis in our first nine-hole match of the day and then lost the last hole of the second match to give our opponents a tie.  We will be pretty much playing out the string in today's final two matches.

    Yesterday was not a total loss.  It never is when you learn something, and I learned two things related to rules during our first match against Bob and Jeff.  On hole 15, the sixth of our match, since we played the back nine, Jeff took a practice swing from under a tree.  His club nicked a branch, a single small leaf fell to the ground as a result, and he called a stroke penalty on himself.  Later on the 17th hole, Bob hit Jeff's ball to the green, thinking it was his; Jeff did not stop him because he thought his ball was farther down the fairway, not realizing that was my partner Bill's provisional ball (Bill thought he had hit his second out of bounds but found he had not).

    When I returned home last night, I did a little research.  In the first case, Jeff actually called an unnecessary penalty on himself.  Yes, Rule 13-2 indicates that you may not improve your lie by consciously removing leaves, branches or other indigenous growing things.  But the rules of golf are subject to "decisions" that are made on the tough grey areas, and Ruling 13-2/22 points out cases in which accidentally knocking down leaves would not improve a player's lie and, therefore, no penalty would ensue.  Jeff clearly had not intended to improve his lie, nor had he done so even unintentionally (What is one small leaf in a forest of them?).  Jeff's honesty to a fault did not affect the outcome of our match; I just hope he didn't have any side action on his score.

    In the other case in which Bob hit Jeff's ball, Bill and I were convinced the hole was ours by default (although winning the hole would not have affected the outcome, just the margin of the loss).  For hitting the wrong ball, Bob was definitely out of the hole but, according to Rule 15-2, Jeff could replace his ball at the spot from which Bob hit it and proceed without penalty.  The sins of one partner are not visited upon the other, although given the way I've played this weekend, Bill might argue with that.

 

 

    More and more communities are hosting professional golf tournaments.  A couple of weeks ago, the massive Cliffs Communities hosted a Nationwide Tour event, the BMW Charities Pro-Am, at three of their courses.  We've played courses at Rock Barn Golf Club in Hickory, NC, and Fox Den Country Club, outside of Knoxville, TN, that also play host to Nationwide events.
    This weeknd, the RiverTowne Country Club in Mount Pleasant, SC, is getting its turn with an the LPGA event co-sponsored by The Ginn Company and Annika Sorenstam, who is just back from some time off to nurse an injury.  We haven't played the Arnold Palmer course at RiverTowne, but we are familiar with Mount Pleasant, a bustling, rapidly growing town just north of Charleston.  The immediate area has a nice collection of courses available for a daily fee, including the resort courses at Wild Dunes, the George Cobb designed Snee Farm, Willard Byrd's Patriot's Point and Rees Jones' Carolina National.  The closest private club is Bull's Bay in Awendaw, designed by the late Mike Strantz whose firm is located nearby.       

    RiverTowne is a public access course as well, so anyone can play it, but only a relative few can walk to it from their homes.  The Ginn Company, whose customarily high-end communities are spread throughout the southeast, built RiverTowne and offers a wide range of homes around the course and at RiverTowne on the Wando, the name of the local river.  Preservation Row, for example, are attached units that start in price in the $220s.  Single-family homes in both neighborhoods can run into seven figures for views of the river and/or golf course.     

    The main road through town and on the way to Charleston is Route 17, and our experience is that at certain times of day, and during the tourist season, things can get pretty clogged.  Shopping centers line one side of the route, and a few of the communities line the other.  But services and conveniences, restaurants and access to the great city of Charleston are neutralizing factors.  The Charleston area is a great place to visit and, who knows, you may want to live there.

    BestPlaces.net has some interesting data on Mount Pleasant if you would like more information.

100_0727mtna2

You just don't see this every day on a golf course, as you do at Mountain Air.

 

    I won't easily forget the day I spent 18 months ago at Mountain Air near Burnsville, NC, just about 35 minutes northwest of Asheville.  It isn't every day that you wait for an airplane to land before you can cross a runway to get from green to next tee.  Or hit a six-iron 200 yards (assisted by thin air and about five stories of elevation).  Or watch a plane set down not 60 yards away from your table at the 19th hole.  Or drive your golf cart about a half-mile to the practice tee.  This kind of experience at almost 5,000 feet is cool, literally and figuratively (about 15 degrees (F) cooler than down in Asheville on a July day).
    The landing strip and golf course share the top of the mountain at Mountain Air.  The course, by little known architect Scott Pool, is a roller coaster affair, with unusually small greens, some of them perched on the edge of the mountain.  The golf is not for the faint of heart, but the views out along the Blue Ridge Mountains are dramatic and exhilarating.
    The developers, the local Banks family, are adding another nine holes to the original 18, to be named the Banks Creek Nine.  A new development of maintenance-free single-family homes, called Spring Rock, will look out over the new course.  Each home will feature almost 2,600 square feet of living space and three or four bedrooms.  Although prices were not available, we'd expect them to come in from the mid to high six figures.  The community's Cabins at Creekside, slightly smaller detached single-family homes, run $400,000 to $650,000, and the Hawks Ledge Cottages, slightly larger, from $650,000 to $1 million.       

    Mountain Air has done a great job of situating home sites with commanding views.  Not surprisingly, the community appeals to well-heeled professional and amateur pilots.  It also employs a full-time naturalist to take club members on discovery walks amid the wide range of flora and fauna; I was 100_0724mtna1 particularly impressed by the list of animals that local home owners had spotted, indicated on the blackboard outside the nature office.    

    On the busiest days of the summer season, a dozen planes might take off and land on the airstrip, triggering warning lights and alarms between the fifth green on one side and the sixth tee on the other side of the runway.  Yet in the dead of winter, the mountaintop can be a little lonely with as few as 10 percent of owners staying on property, although the clubhouse will make special arrangements for those who desire the romance of a dinner by the fireplace; the club will even call in a chef for the evening.   

    For a pilot and/or naturalist and/or golfer, Mountain Air is high and mighty.

Note:  The Mountain Air website isn't long on information, especially about the golf course, but they do offer to send a DVD if you are interested. Overnight stays in one of their mountain lodges is $199 per night which includes breakfast for two and the obligatory tour of the community's real estate offerings.

 

100_0738_1mtna4

The plug at the tee box says "215 yards, Plays like 155."  And it did. 

100_0996_1deb2

They may not be building more railroads, but Pete Dye is keeping the railroad tie manufacturers in business.  He uses them to advantage at DeBordieu.

 

NOTE:  A technical glitch sent this two part review past the front page of the site in the last two days and to the reviews section.  We didn't intend that.  For those who may have missed it, we include it here today (and the second part tomorrow) and apologize to others for any duplication.

 

    They have torn down the locally famous boardwalk pavilion in the golf supermarket of Myrtle Beach.  No more roller coasters, cotton candy and cheesy door prizes for knocking down a few bottles.  But that's not quite enough to take the honky tonk out of the southeast's Coney Island.  There is still plenty of neon both on the beach and off, but for thousands of golfers each week, it is a small price to pay.   

    If you are looking for a permanent place within striking distance of 120 golf courses, the best choice is 30 minutes south of Myrtle Beach, in the towns of Litchfield, Murrells Inlet or Pawleys Island.  You will have easy access to the beach and the Intra-Coastal Waterway, and the collection of golf courses are consistently ranked among the best on the Grand Strand.  So too are the restaurants; some rival those in foodie-town Charleston for quality and originality.     

    The best golf course communities on the South Strand are DeBordieu Colony, Pawleys Plantation, The Reserve at Litchfield Beach and Wachesaw Plantation, although there are numerous other choices to fit virtually every budget.  DeBordieu, the farthest south, features a Pete Dye course and the most expensive homes in the area, owing to its location on the ocean.  Homes facing the Atlantic have sold for upwards of $5 million, but just a few hundred yards inland, you can still find a single-family dwelling for under $1 million.  The Dye course is not his most revered and, disappointingly, none of the holes approach the ocean (although you can hear it and 100_1006_1deb3 smell it, and the breezes make the otherwise open routing a bit of a challenge).  But the links-style course stands in nice contrast to some of the parkland courses in the area.  DeBordieu is just five miles from the charming old southern town of Georgetown, whose Rice Paddy restaurant, in an old bank building, is one of the best in the area.     

    Pawleys Plantation, the only one of the four communities whose golf course is not private, was opened in the late 1980s and is a good example of how a residential community can double as a quiet resort community.  A nice mix of condominium units and single-family homes, Pawleys Plantation runs from Route 17 to the marsh that separates the mainland from the beach.  Single-family homes rarely exceed $1 million, except for those with spectacular marsh views.  Condos start around $300,000, but the best bargains might be the "patio" homes, set on just ¼ acre, which start in the mid $300s.  From Jack Nicklaus' dramatic marsh holes on the back nine, you could see the ocean if it weren't for the three rows of houses on Pawleys Island, America's oldest beach resort community.  But you can certainly feel the effects.  The course is tough, long and necessitating high-entry approaches to the well-trapped greens.  The short 13th hole, about 125 from the men's tees and virtually surrounded by marsh, may be a tougher challenge than #17 at Sawgrass.  The green is tiny and hard, and when the wind blows and the tide is out, the intimidation is intensified by a view of hundreds of golf balls lying in the muddy bog below.

Coming tomorrow:  The Reserve at Litchfield Beach (Greg Norman) and Wachesaw Plantation (Tom Fazio), as well as the fine array of daily fee courses on the South Strand. 

    We maintain an excellent network of real estate agents throughout the southern U.S.  The are knowledgeable about all the golf course communities in their areas.  One of our pre-qualified agents can help you cut through all the marketing hype and see any houses you want...at no cost or obligation to you.  Contact us if we can help.

100_1828pawl1

The short par 3 13th at Pawleys Plantation, with its tiny green, has ruined many a round. 

Tuesday, 29 May 2007 05:37

Two provocative items in today's WSJ

    The Wall Street Journal 's Personal Journal section today includes two front-page articles that should be of interest to readers of this site.  One is about golf and one is about real estate.  (Note:  Full text of the articles is available only to subscribers).

     Tara Parker-Pope, the editor of the paper's Health Journal column, has some sobering news and advice for those of us who play the game.  Her contention is that our golf swings can tell us something about our overall health.  What, for example, does an inconsistent swing tell you about your health?  Parker-Pope's contention is that such a swing indicates we "lack strength in our 'core' muscles."  These are the deeper muscles in places fundamental to a smooth, repeatable swing, such as thighs, hips and buttocks.  What about accuracy issues?  The problem, the author contends, may be a sign of looming neck arthritis and shoulder problems.  I have both physical issues as well as the consequent misdirected hits.  Indeed, in my younger days, I either drew or, when I mishit, pulled the ball.  Now I spray right almost as often as I go left.

    The accompanying chart, attributed to a 2006 Golfer Health Study commissioned by Golf Digest, comes to some depressing conclusions.  Eight-percent of golfers suffer from pain, injury or illness; 27% have back pain; 66% are overweight; and 30% have played with a hangover.  We really have to love the game to put ourselves through all that (the drinking aside).

    The other Personal Journal article indicates that more and more young people -- those barely out of their 30s -- are purchasing second-homes in anticipation of using them as retirement homes later.  Most of the examples highlight properties on lakes, and most of those are within a few hours driving distance of the young couples' primary homes and workplaces.  In the more reasonably priced golfing communities we have visited in the southeast, we have noted that young couples -- some without children -- are buying their primary homes in golf course communities, and those who can afford it, are buying second homes a reasonable distance away, some with golf courses on site or nearby.  This developing phenomenon could continue to help prices stabilize in the south even as they wobble in the north.


    Every once in a while, I get the urge to imagine I am someone other than me.  The web site FindYourSpot.com is a good place to do it.  FindYourSpot is one of those sites that asks you a bunch of questions -- in this case, about what you want in a place to live -- and then provids a list of towns based on your responses.  When I first tried FindYourSpot a few years ago, it told me, quite emphatically, that my responses indicated I wanted to live in the Texas Hill Country.  That is one of the reasons I intend to visit the best golf course communities between Austin and San Antonio in the coming months.

    With a little free time today, I decided to "pose" at FindYourSpot as a serious golfer who is concerned about little other than identifying a place where I could play all the time.  I answered the climate questions in that regard, indicating that summers were meant to be long and hot, and when it asked if I needed to play golf often, I provided a "Strongly Agree."  Virtually everything else I marked as "Neutral," including the question about whether I like weather that is neither too hot or too cold; I went "Neutral" on that one on one taking, and then "Strongly Agree" on the next.

    The results were interesting, and dramatically different just by switching my responses on the not-too-hot, not-too-cold question.  When I empahsized long, hot summers, my top five selections came up, in order, Key West, Naples, Hilton Head Island, Opalousas, LA, and Covington, LA.  When I opted for the more moderate annual climate, FindYourSpot found me locations in Tennessee and Kentucky.

    The thing is, I have no interest in living in Kentucky, Tennessee, or the hottest places in Florida, although I am intrigued by the Texas Hill Country, as I mentioned above.  But maybe FindYourSpot knows something I don't know.  If I fall in love with the Texas hills, you will be the first to know.  In the meantime, FindYourSpot is a pleasant diversion, if not a deadly accurate one.

    This is the second part of an updated review that was mistakenly 'buried' on the site earlier this week.  We repeat it here and apologize to those for whom this might be a repetition. 

 

    The Reserve's Greg Norman golf course winds its way through the live oaks and scrub pines that are indigenous to this part of the world.  Green complexes are roller-coaster contoured but not heavily trapped, and we were delighted that we could putt on some holes from 15 yards off the green.  The course is always in nice shape too.  The community brackets Route 17, the main north/south thoroughfare through all of the Grand Strand of Myrtle Beach.  To the west of the road is the largest part of the community with single-family homes that range generally from the $400s to $1.5 million.  Across Route 17 and within walking distance of the beach, a small group of single-family homes are set up in a Charleston-type row house configuration, but separate from each other.  These sell for more than $1 million and are within a three-minute walk of the beach.  At the beachfront are a number of high-rise condominiums that are rented out by their owners.  At prices in the low-mid-six figures and up, they are one alternative for second-home owners who want oceanfront living and aren't unwilling to live in close proximity to others.     

    Wachesaw Plantation is also west of Route 17, and a river runs through it (the Waccamaw).  The community had some marketing and image issues when it first opened in the 1980s, but those seem behind it.  The excellent Tom Fazio golf course can get a little moist after heavy rainfalls, but the layout is unmistakably Fazio, with large cloverleaf bunkers and roller coaster fairways.  Some grasses (see photo below) grow long, adding a Scottish links cachet to the routing.  Wachesaw is probably the most reasonably priced of the communities; the quality of golf4wach housing and cost per square foot are relatively low for the area, which probably has something to do with its west of Route 17 location and some marketing problems in the community's early years in the mid 1980s.  But Wachesaw is closest to the best variety of shopping and other conveniences, including Myrtle Beach International Airport, which is about 25 minutes away.  The beach is about 10 minutes farther away than it is from the other communities, but the scenic and lazy Waccamaw River provides plenty of watery compensation.         

    The South Strand offers a wide range of high-quality daily fee courses to supplement the private ones.  The renowned Caledonia Golf & Fish Club is in Pawleys Island, along with its companion course, True Blue, both designs by the late Mike Strantz.  They could not be more different.  Caledonia effects a bit of Augusta National with azaleas and other flora in profusion; True Blue has an abundance of sand off the fairways and around the greens, a desert-like course in the Low Country that is vintage Strantz, which is to say "muscular."  Nearby is Heritage Golf Club, more of a parkland style course that is always in peak shape.  And coming later this summer is the redone Sea Gull Golf Club, renamed The Founders Club, whose distinctive notes will likely revolve around the significant mounding we saw in the early stages of reconstruction.  And if all that is not enough variety for you, Litchfield and Murrells Inlet add another seven courses, including Willbrook, The Tradition, The River Club, Litchfield Golf Club, Wachesaw East, Blackmoor and TPC of Myrtle Beach.  And for a wondrous if expensive day trip of golf, Kiawah Island and the Ocean Course are about 90 minutes away.   

    Although there are many art galleries in the Pawleys Island and Georgetown areas, and Charleston is within 70 minutes or so, the area is a little short on culture and entertainment, except for the excellent restaurants.  Shopping, though, is ample enough for any but those who crave Nordstrom nearby.  A large number of outlet stores are available within a half hour.  Myrtle Beach airport, with non-stop service to Washington, Charlotte, the New York airports and a few other northern cities, is within 40 minutes.  Much of a couple's social life in the area will revolve around the clubhouse and friends' homes in the communities.

    We have excellent real estate contacts in the Myrtle Beach area who are familiar with all the golf communities.  One of our pre-qualified agents can help you cut through all the marketing hype and see any houses you want...at no cost or obligation to you.  Contact us if we can help.

Sunday, 27 May 2007 01:19

Graduation advice

    We celebrate our son Tim's high school graduation today, so I am taking a day off from golf.  It seems appropriate to offer the best advice to graduates I have read, a piece written almost 10 years ago and attributed, falsely, as a commencement address at MIT by the late author Kurt Vonnegut.  It actually was written by a columnist in Chicago, Mary Schmich. Congratulations to Tim and all other grads.

 

    Ladies and gentlemen of the class of '97: wear sunscreen.  If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it.  The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience.  I will dispense this advice now.
    Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth.  Oh, never mind.  You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they've faded.  But trust me, in 20 years, you'll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can't grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked.  You are not as fat as you imagine.  
    Don't worry about the future.  Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum.  The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 pm on some idle Tuesday.

    Do one thing every day that scares you.

    Sing.

    Don't be reckless with other people's hearts.  Don't put up with people who are reckless with yours.

    Floss.

    Don't waste your time on jealousy.  Sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind.  The race is long and, in the end, it's only with yourself. Remember compliments you receive.  Forget the insults.  If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

    Keep your old love letters.  Throw away your old bank statements. Stretch. Don't feel guilty if you don't know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn't know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives.  Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don't.

    Get plenty of calcium.  Be kind to your knees. You'll miss them when they're gone.

    Maybe you'll marry, maybe you won't.  Maybe you'll have children, maybe you won't.  Maybe you'll divorce at 40, maybe you'll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary.  Whatever you do, don't congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either.  Your choices are half chance; so are everybody else's.

    Enjoy your body.  Use it every way you can.  Don't be afraid of it or of what other people think of it.  It's the greatest instrument you'll ever own.  Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.

    Read the directions, even if you don't follow them. Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly. Get to know your parents.  You never know when they'll be gone for good.  Be nice to your siblings.  They're your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future. Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. 

    Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young. Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard.  Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.    

    Travel.

    Accept certain inalienable truths: prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old.  And when you do, you'll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble, and children respected their elders.  Respect your elders. Don't expect anyone else to support you.  Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you'll have a wealthy spouse.  But you never know when either one might run out.

    Don't mess too much with your hair or by the time you're 40 it will look 85.  Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia.  Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth.

    But trust me on the sunscreen.

Page 121 of 131

decisions-ad