Seven Sun Belt Golf Communities to Check Out Right Now
Golf participation has surged during the Covid-19 pandemic, largely due to golf courses remaining open while other sports and activities shutdown. The National Golf Foundation (NGF) recently released its year-end report and rounds were up 13% in 2020 from 2019, despite half of the courses in the U.S. being closed in March and April.
The figures from the fall golf season, however, are down-right staggering. In September, October and November, rounds were up 24%, 32% and 57%, respectively. Nearly half of these additional golf rounds are being played by avid golfers, the NGF has determined, many of whom are retired, semi-retired and ready to relocate to play even more golf.
According to Private Communities Register's 2020 Survey of Homebuyers and Renters Researching Lifestyle Communities, 70% of respondents are planning to move to a new state or country, and nearly 20% prefer to be near a golf course.
So as winter continues its march across most of the country, here are seven Sun Belt golf communities with award-winning golf courses and amenities where you can up-level your game year-round.
- Desert Mountain, Scottsdale, Arizona
At over 8,000 acres and boasting six championship-caliber courses designed by Jack Nicklaus, Desert Mountain isn't just a golf community – it's a golfer's paradise. The innovative, 3,114-yard No. 7 course (a par 54) recently opened and is ideal for experienced players and beginners. Fourteen holes can even be played with a putter from the forward tees. And with Scottsdale serving up more than 300 sunny days a year, almost every day holds the probability of a tee time.
- K. Hovnanian's® Four Seasons at Terra Lago, Indio, California
A one-time host to the former Skins Game, Terra Lago's centerpiece is a 36-hole Brian Curley and Lee Schmidt combination that lets golfers walk in the footsteps of Tiger Woods, Greg Norman and Fred Couples. The North and South courses offer a beguiling contrast of lush fairways and rustic desert surrounds on the Coachella's Valley's east end. Indio's January and February temps in the 70s and 80s paired with its arid desert climate create ideal "winter" playing conditions.
- Sailfish Point, Stuart, Florida
Seemingly dropped from the heavens onto a 532-acre barrier island along Florida's Treasure Coast, Sailfish Point is home to a Nicklaus Signature Course that will undergo a multi-million-dollar renovation later this year. The practice facility is coming off a major expansion that included the installation of new target greens. For golfers with a passion for deep-sea fishing, Sailfish Point has no rival. There's an 84-slip Marina and Yacht Club, waterfront homes with docks with deep water access, and the deep blue waters of the Atlantic are just a five-minute boat ride away.
- Reynolds Lake Oconee, Gainesville, Georgia
This sprawling golf wonderland midway between Atlanta and Augusta is home to six regulation layouts designed by Nicklaus, Bob Cupp, Tom Fazio, Rees Jones and Jim Engh. The Golden Bear's Great Water course, ranked by the holy trinity of GOLF Magazine, Golfweek and Golf Digest, wraps around the shores of Lake Oconee, providing one of the most scenery-soaked golf experiences in the Southeast. Fazio's National course presents golfers with three nine-hole layouts fashioned from property's hardwood forests, bringing Reynolds' total "hole count" to an astounding 117.
- Rumbling Bald, Lake Lure, North Carolina
Rumbling Bald in Western North Carolina is one of the few golf communities that offers year-round golf in the mountains. Situated the Blue Ridge foothills at an elevation of just over 1,100 feet, this 3,000-acre retreat features two decidedly different 18-hole tracks, Apple Valley (designed by Dan Maples) and Bald Mountain (designed by W.B. Lewis). Apple Valley, Rumbling Bald's marquee course, recently reopened after the installation of new Champion Bermuda greens. Bald Mountain's rare routing features five par 5s and five par 3s, including the 16th hole, the backdrop of a scene from the movie Dirty Dancing.
- Sea Pines, Hilton Head, South Carolina
This 5,000-acre gated community on the island's south end is the Palmetto State's most iconic golf destination. Home to Pete Dye and Jack Nicklaus' famed Harbour Town Golf Links – site of the PGA Tour's RBC Heritage — Sea Pines also claims two other highly-regarded courses: Heron Point by Pete Dye, Atlantic Dunes by Davis Love III. Also within the gates, Sea Pines Country Club houses a private Arnold Palmer / Clyde Johnston design featuring holes along one of the island's most expansive tidal marshes. Members have exclusive access to the club's course and can also add preferred access to the resort's three courses.
- Boot Ranch, Fredericksburg, Texas
Boot Ranch is the quintessential Texas Hill Country golf community, boasting a highly-rated, 7250-yard Hal Sutton-designed golf course and spacious, members only clubhouse. For golfers who relish game improvement, Boot Ranch is a prayer answered. There's a 34-acre "Practice Park" with a three-sided driving range and one-acre "Putting Park" with the largest putting green in Texas. The golf course recently landed at No. 6 in the Dallas Morning News' vaunted Top 100 Texas Golf Courses.