April 2020

It may seem trivial to publish a newsletter about golf communities at a time like this. But I believe it is important to look ahead to better times. And maybe some might find a pleasant diversion or two in this month’s Home On The Course. Thank you for your continuing loyalty and interest.

 
April 2020 
Wild Dunes, Isle of Palms, SC

Tis the Season…for “Best”
City & Town Rankings

 

All you need to know about the annual “best” rankings is that few of the rankers agree on which cities and states are truly the best.  Beginning just after the first of each year and continuing through the spring, online and print publications extol the virtues of towns and cities across the country.  I look forward to the rankings for the Southeast Region out of curiosity, as well as a sense of duty to curate for my readers the wide range of choices.  But like a finely cooked meal, these lists are best consumed with a grain of salt.

So here goes, with my recommendations for golf communities to consider in the top towns and cities.  The first set of rankings to catch my eye was posted in Southern Living.  The top two cities on the magazine’s list will come as no surprise to those who celebrate the combination of “charming” and the culinary arts.  Charleston, SC, is #1 and Savannah, GA is #2.  In my opinion, the top choice for golf community in Savannah is clearly The Landings, a 45-year old development that has aged quite gracefully.  I have placed more clients at The Landings than any other community, largely because of its proximity to the city (just 20 minutes) and its six outstanding golf courses.  Charleston offers a wider range of golf communities within a short drive, including Rivertowne and Snee Farm in Mt. Pleasant, just over the Ravenel Bridge; the popular, full-service and upscale Daniel Island, a convenient ride to both city and Charleston’s quite serviceable airport; and, for beach and golf lovers, Wild Dunes on the Isle of Palms.

Of course, no best Southeast city ranking would be complete without Asheville, the ever-popular mountain town in western North Carolina, which ranks #6 on Southern Living’s latest list.  Once described to me as the “San Francisco of the East,” Asheville combines an arts and craft soul with some modern flourishes that attract a wide range of residents to nearby upscale communities like The Cliffs at Walnut Cove and Mountain Air, and to less delux but still high-quality developments like Wolf Laurel and Reems Creek. 

Also included in Southern Living’s top 10 is one of the most underrated cities for golf and retiree lifestyle in the Southeast, Richmond, VA.  Richmond is a tidier version of a major city, with golf communities to fit every playing style and budget, as well as top healthcare facilities, entertainment venues, colleges and universities, and an exploding restaurant scene.  (Southern Living’s top new restaurant in 2019 is located in Richmond).

There is little to argue with Southern Living’s choices, except they rely more on editorial judgment than reader judgment.  At the popular web site, TopRetirements.com, the “best of” ranking is both an assessment of objective criteria and a popularity contest, the result of how many times its readers visit a city’s page at the Top Retirements web site. And on that measure, the site’s “Best of the Best Places to Retire” deems Asheville tops.  The list ranks all places in America, and after a couple of Arizona locations — Prescott and Tucson — the 4th slot is given to Beaufort, SC, a small seacoast town with some huge live oak trees that ooze with Old World charm.  Our choice for golf community in the area is Dataw Island, an old standby with 36 holes of terrific golf (Tom Fazio and Arthur Hills) and some extreme real estate bargains.

I have toured the golf communities in the Rehoboth Beach, DE, area, #5 on Top Retirements’ list, and for those who can ride out a month or two of dicey winter weather, there is much to choose from.  A fine Jack Nicklaus course anchors one of them, the Peninsula Club in Millsboro.

One other annual list is worthy of note because the ranking agents vote with their feet.  It is the annual survey of United Van Lines which assesses the popularity of states by how many of the company’s customers are moving in and out.  By that measure, Florida and South Carolina are overwhelmingly the most popular states in the Southeast, followed by Tennessee, North Carolina and Alabama.  Click here for this year’s United Van Lines survey and map of all 50 states.

 


If you are considering a search for a permanent or vacation home in a golf-oriented area, please contact me for a free, no-obligation consultation at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


To My Subscribers  

 

Since war has been declared on Covid-19, I feel comfortable extending the metaphor to say I write this from my “bunker” in Connecticut.  I imposed shelter in place on myself almost three weeks ago after reading the Center for Disease Control warning about high-risk factors. Although I feel generally terrific, I check most of the boxes, including diabetes, prior heart disease and age.  (I turn 72 in a few weeks .)

Absent those issues, I probably would have sheltered in place in early March anyway.  Reports from other parts of the world were clearly serious, and mindful that U.S. airlines carry nearly one billion passengers a year, many from other parts of the world, a pandemic reaching the U.S. was a safe, if ugly, bet.  I hope all of you have heeded the warnings from the experts and ignored those who have minimized the risks.  It is trite to say these are challenging times for all of us, but it never gets old to urge friends and family to stay safe and well.  Listen to the medical experts and scientists — and then to your own best judgment.

I thought about not publishing a newsletter until the virus had passed; sharing golf community information seems trivial in light of the pandemic.  But some day, soon we all hope, this too shall pass, and the search for a golf home will recommence, possibly soon after.  I expect the unleashing of a pent-up demand for a retirement lifestyle for which so many of you have worked hard — and deserve.  I hope a continuing flow of information and observations will be a pleasant diversion in the meantime.

Stay safe and well.

Larry

 

Golf Communities, Golfer’s Hunker Down

A note from the management company in charge of Pawleys Plantation in Pawleys Island, SC, last week indicated that two residents of the community had contracted Covid-19, and that one had been hospitalized.  My wife Connie and I own a vacation condo in Pawleys Plantation. Although most residents there are now sheltering in place, golf play continues with some new rules and regulations.  For example, only one person is permitted per golf cart, except where riders are from the same household.  The pro shop is still open but you don’t go to the pro shop to sign up for your round.  Walking at Pawleys Plantation, a rarity, is now permitted at all times but you are still charged for the typically mandatory golf cart, minus a $5 discount.  (If you are alone, you pay for only half the normal rate for a two-rider cart.)  There is no fee for walking after 2 pm. The guys at the bag drop will put your bag of clubs on a cart but that is the last time they will handle it per round. Members have been asked to remove their clubs from the indoor storage area for the foreseeable future.

A friend at The Landings in Savannah called earlier on the day I write this to say he was heading out to one of his community’s six golf courses under the same restrictions as those above (e.g. a foursome is required to take four separate carts).  This is pretty much the standard as well for all public golf facilities where play is still permitted.  A couple of weeks ago in Connecticut, for example, the Governor first included our state’s golf courses on the list of “non-essential businesses” and announced they would be closed indefinitely.  When the state golf association and, perhaps, one or two high-level, golf-playing donors pointed out to him that social distancing would be easy to practice on a golf course and that a pleasant four-hour distraction would help relieve stress, he relented.  My favorite golf courses within 30 minutes of my home are now open, but with the peak risk-level in Connecticut starting about now and expected to last until the end of May, I will wait for a general “all-clear” (and the much warmer temperatures of late spring in New England).

I had looked forward to this coming season, like no other in recent memory, for two reasons:  First, I had reserved lodging and flights to the Highlands of Scotland with a friend and brother in law, and was working on tee times on the North Sea, when it became clear Covid-19 would ruin those plans.  The trip will have to wait for late this year or, more likely, 2021.  The second reason is that the older I get, the more realistic my chances to attain that mythical “shoot your age” score.  

Last year, with my handicap of 10, I realized, as I stood on the 15th tee of my favorite local golf course, that I had a reasonable mathematical chance of doing it (if I went one under par for the last four holes).  A double bogey ruined that dream.  Of course, if my next round is not until next year, my 73rd, that enhances my chances, at least on paper.  But with my local fitness center closed, and no treadmill in our house, I am going to have to figure out a workout regimen in order not to simply “age in place.”

If you plan to get out to your local or golf community course in the coming days, enjoy.  The coronavirus has given new meaning to “managing the golf course.”  Manage safely. 

 

...if it ain’t got that swing

For all those, young and old, who are young at heart, this should provide a pleasant diversion.

 

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Larry Gavrich
Founder & Editor
Home On The Course, LLC

 

 

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