How will HOAs deal with dying golf courses?

By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities


Reports of golf course closures are becoming more and more common. Due to waning membership, Country Club owners can no longer turn a healthy profit operating their golf courses.

Back in the heyday of golf, in the 1990s, developers starting building entire subdivisions around putting greens, water features, and fairways. At the time, buyers paid a premium for a home with a view of the golf course. But now that times have changed, living right on the course has become a distinct disadvantage.


Swapping golf course for new home construction

In Florida, two golf course owners are exiting the golf business. In both cases, the Club owners want the County to rezone the land to allow construction of additional housing. Homeowners are upset at the prospect of losing their view of open space and greenery. Ironically, most adjacent homeowners do not golf. That is precisely why the golf courses must be closed.

Homeowners fear their property values will plummet if new homes or condos are built on the former golf course. But once a golf course is shut down, with no one to maintain the land, it tends to become an eyesore and a nuisance. Besides, County officials and golf course owners are salivating over the potential for additional revenue.


(FL) Windermere homeowners fighting with golf course owner


(FL) Legal battle brews over Collier golf course views


Getting HOAs to buy in

In Oregon, the owner of Creekside Golf Club is attempting to make a deal with Creekside HOA homeowners. The owner hopes that the HOA will agree to buy the golf course or agree to charge every Association Member and additional $50 per month on their assessments for a Social Membership in the Club.

Of course, that would mean that the majority of owners who are not members, and who rarely if ever golf, would be expected to subsidize the cost of the minority of owners who golf frequently. Sounds like a recipe for conflict and neighborhood division.

(OR) Will Creekside Golf Club close? It depends on neighbors

Tracy Loew, Statesman Journal


In Morningside, Rancho Mirage, California, a lawsuit is brewing. In 2014, a majority of homeowners voted to pay an additional $250 per month in addition to already high $1050 monthly assessments, in support of the ailing club. Golf members, however, are able to offset (reduce) their HOA assessments by $250 per month. The net result is that non-golf members are the only ones paying the $250 montly fee. So non-golf members are suing the HOA over the financial arrangement.

(CA) Tension rising as golf club, HOAs look to future


The Hybrid solution: convince homeowners to partially redevelop, and reduce the size of the golf course

And in Ponte Vedra, FL, the new golf course owner is giving homeowners an ultimatum: allow him to redevelop 6 holes and build 100 senior housing units, reducing the course to 12 holes, or allow the current golf course to close permanently until 2023. In 2023, the owner will no longer be constrained by the orignal development agreement.

(FL) New owner of former Ponte Vedra Golf and Country Club asks for permission to develop part of property


How did this happen?

Developers have been enabled to build an oversupply of golf courses over the course of several decades. At one time, a golf course community was a magnet to attract home buyers. But the Country Club lifestyle is no longer as desirable to home buyers. Where was the foresight on the part of thousands of local government planning commissions?

If the construction of countless golf courses, tennis courts, in-ground pools, and the like were thought to be viable and sustainable over the long term, then entrepreneurs would have been building them as stand-alone businesses.  Instead, these recreational “amenities” have been tied to real estate development and the whims of the HOA industry. Now that the cash cow has stopped providing a revenue stream for developers and Club owners, homeowners who bought into the dream are facing a potential real estate nightmare.

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