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by Debra Gelbart on Oct 9, 2015

Unlike yesteryear, golf courses aren’t necessarily the ‘main event’ in some master-planned communities.

“Courses built today are shorter, they’re often playable in less time and they may be less frustrating, with fewer sand traps and water hazards,” said Steve Soriano, executive vice president of Robson Communities, Inc. Robson develops active-adult master-planned communities that all have golf courses. 

“We’ve found that many of the residents prefer playing for a half-day at a time rather than the entire day,” Soriano said. Two Robson Communities in the Phoenix area (PebbleCreek in Goodyear and Robson Ranch Arizona in the Casa Grande area) feature multiple golf courses — 45 holes of golf at PebbleCreek and one 18-hole course at Robson Ranch.

Golfers and non-golfers

Soriano estimates that up to 50 percent of Robson homebuyers don’t even play golf. “What attracts buyers is the open space, expansive grass and greenbelts, and the parklike setting,” Soriano said.

Among PulteGroup’s homebuyers, the majority who choose a golf community don’t play golf, said Jim Karras, vice president of community association operations for PulteGroup’s Southwest Area. PulteGroup operates the active-adult community Sun City Festival in Buckeye (with its 18-hole Copper Canyon course) and the active-adult community Sun City Anthem at Merrill Ranch in Florence. Poston Butte Golf Club is located within the Anthem master plan which consists of the Sun City active-adult community and the all-ages community of Parkside.

“They just want the beautiful view of the course,” Karras said. “Our community golf courses are also accompanied by restaurant and bar facilities — these amenities are popular for homeowners who like the idea of having a restaurant option in their neighborhood.”

The clubhouse “will become a place where neighbors get together, whether they play golf or not,” added Nick Taratsas, senior vice president and general manager for DMB, referring to the Victory Club and the golf course in Victory, the active-adult community within all-ages Verrado in Buckeye. The Victory Golf Course and Pro Shop will open in December 2016. 

Golf course living is indeed popular among varying demographics, agreed William Olson, senior vice president and division manager for Newland Communities. Newland is the developer of Estrella, a 20,000-acre all-ages master-planned community in Goodyear in the Southwest Valley that includes the active-adult community of CantaMia.

“Estrella is a vibrant, all-ages community and many of our younger couples and families enjoy living near the course and in a master-planned community.” The 18-hole golf course at Estrella has been featured by Golfweek Magazine as “one of the best courses you can play,” Olson said.

Playability and time

“We want our courses to be challenging for great golfers but also enjoyable for average golfers,” Taratsas of DMB said. “We intentionally designed elements of our Victory course for recreational golfers who may want a short-play option both in time and number of holes,” he said. That course will include the opportunity to play just six holes at a time. But it’s not just ’weekend warrior‘ golfers who appreciate these courses. Indeed, Victory residents who are avid golfers enjoy their community’s course as well, Taratsas said.

Mark Hammons, vice president of Vistancia, a 7,100-acre master-planned community in North Peoria, agreed, noting that today’s golfers oftentimes simply have less free time available for golfing a full 18 holes. 

Additional amenities

The Blackstone section of Vistancia opened in 2006 with the 18-hole Blackstone Golf Course and the luxurious 30,000-square-foot Blackstone Country Club Clubhouse.

“In addition to championship golf, Blackstone Country Club delivers a range of experiences from resort pools with private cabanas to fine dining and a myriad of recreational activities including a 24-hour fitness center, tennis courts and a host of children’s activities,” Hammons said.

Daily fees and annual passes

At Robson Communities golf courses, residents pay $25 to $40 for 18 holes of play on weekends and $20 per round on weekdays, Soriano said. 

Daily-fee rates for the public Poston Butte Golf Course at Sun City Anthem and the Copper Canyon course at Sun City Festival average $50, while annual pass programs for frequent players provide incentives to lower fees. At Verrado Golf Club, an annual-play pass for unlimited golf is currently $3,825 for an individual and $5,610 for a couple; golfers can also opt for daily-fee rates, which average $95.

Currently, at Blackstone Country Club in Vistancia, golf memberships range from a $4,000 membership fee to a $20,000 membership fee (plus monthly dues), while in Estrella, an annual pass ranges from $1,800 to $4,000.

All of the courses mentioned here are open to the public as well as to residents of their respective communities, and all offer price breaks for residents. 

Premium golf course home-sites

Many lots in golf course communities carry a premium, Soriano said, which in Robson Communities, can range from $20,000 to $150,000. The open space and greenery of a golf course helps sell homes and attract higher prices, Taratsas said, which is good to keep in mind as a buyer looks down the road and contemplates a resale of the home years hence.

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