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Green Building News

Developers Replace Golf Courses with Hiking Trails

Owning a house on a golf course is not as alluring as it used to be as interest in the links wanes

The Seven Lakes Country Club in Palm Springs, California, is emblematic of golf course communities that dot the U.S., but developers in some parts of the country are finding that opulent course-side homes are harder to sell as interest in golf declines.
Image Credit: Joe Wolf / CC BY-ND 2.0 / Flickr

The days of golf-course communities may be numbered, with developers finding home buyers are more interested in hiking trails and shared gardens than they are in living right next door to a golf course.

Citing an article that appeared in Florida’s Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Construction Dive reports that master-planned communities built around a mandatory-membership course are getting scarcer as homebuyers look for different kinds of amenities. One developer told the newspaper, “Just shoot me if I ever mention developing another golf-course community.”

The phenomenon is not limited to Florida. Course-side houses are getting harder to sell, and a lack of interest is forcing some golfing subdivisions to raise membership fees, making them even less attractive to potential buyers.

Golf courses ranked near the top of the “most unwanted” features list from the National Association of Home Builders in 2013, just behind elevators, and as many as 160 golf courses are closing each year. Nationwide, the Herald-Tribune said, 643 eighteen-hole courses have closed since 2006; for every new course that opens, 10 close.

Fewer putting greens, more walking trails

So what do buyers want instead? Pools, clubhouses, and fitness centers are still popular, the Construction Dive post says, but buyers now want meandering walking paths with places to stop and exercise, rest, or look at outdoor art exhibits.

Rise Communities, which developed a 3,000-acre master-planned community south of Houston called Meridiana, focused on “education and engagement” with features such as a solar observatory and a number of learning labs for residents. There’s a planetarium, a weather station, and a dock where water-habitat experiments can take place.

Some developers also are using land more gently by incorporating green space, parks, and trails instead of flattening large expanses of land and removing all trees. A community near Folsom, California, for example, is offering mountain biking and hiking trails to make use of the natural topography. The Daybreak development outside Salt Lake City offers similar amenities. At Babcock Ranch in Florida, look for kayaking, canoeing, and paddle-boarding. But not golf.


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