Mark Saunders, head of Coastal Communities in North Carolina, has managed to make headlines about golf communities he has built between Myrtle Beach and Wilmington, including Rivers Edge and Ocean Ridge Plantation. Some of those headlines involve claims filed against him by property owners in his developments. In the most recent, filed in Brunswick County Superior Court, Coastal Communities was the plaintiff and emerged with a favorable judgment when the court ruled that property owners in Ocean Ridge, not Coastal, were responsible for tax assessments after Saunders turned over the community’s governance to the residents. It seems that the tax bills kept going to Coastal for a few years and the company kept paying them, despite original covenants indicating responsibility for the taxes belonged to the property owners after turnover. In the wake of the judgment, the two sides are expected to engage an arbitrator to help decide on just how much, and on what schedule, Coastal Communities should be repaid.  Read here.
        This is a good reminder for those considering a golf community home to read the written covenants that govern details of the turnover of the community from developer to residents –- not only on what schedule the property owner’s association takes responsibility for paying fees but also about who will have control of the golf club after the developer leaves. In some cases, the developer retains control; in other cases the property owners have the right of first refusal to purchase the club and, in still other cases, the agreement is that property owners will take over ownership of the club, either for a price stipulated in the covenants or for no cost at all. It would be a good idea to know what financial commitments are in your future.
        As we said above, Mark Saunders has been involved in lawsuits before, but what is of particular interest is the rather unusual way in which he and Coastal Communities have chosen to defend themselves. They created a web site and blog to post articles about their side of the story and to testify to how seriously they take the legal actions. The title of the site, “Mark Saunders Lawsuit,” serves mostly as a reminder to people that the words “Saunders” and “Lawsuit” go together. Plus, there is no content on the site, other than a few sentences on the home page that assures that “The unfounded Mark Saunders lawsuit stories should not be of concern” and “there has been exaggerated news of a Mark Saunders lawsuit in the past…” The evidence offered for these assurances is that “Mark Saunders takes lawsuits very seriously and it shows in the careful and detailed work of The Coastal Companies” and that Saunders has done a great job of developing local communities. It is hard to figure out how bringing attention to the lawsuit without any attempt at arguing the merits of their case is a smart play…not to mention how a court weighing evidence might look on a defendant or plaintiff arguing the case so publicly, if insipiently.
OceanRidgegolfholeOcean Ridge Plantation 
        This is all kind of sad because Ocean Ridge Plantation in Sunset Beach, NC, is a nicely conceived, multiple-golf-course community whose major misstep, it appears, was to promise a new section, called Jaguar’s Lair that, after 10 years –- and a few angry lot owners –- still does not have a basic complement of roads, electricity lines and other basics required to build a home there. Despite the fact that Jaguar’s Lair properties were opened just in time for the Great Recession and the collapse of the planned development housing market, the relative few property owners have suffered with rapidly depreciating assets, although the rest of Ocean Ridge seems in good shape. 
        In August, according to television station WWAY in Wilmington, the town of Sunset Beach and Coastal Communities reached an agreement to deliver utilities and roads in the next couple of years.

        I take a measure of satisfaction and pride that this web site is focused on baby boomers who play golf, or just want to live in a community that is nicely landscaped, with plenty of green areas, and is likely to help appreciate the real estate it contains. (I take just as much pride when a 40-something contacts me for assistance in finding a vacation home in a golf community.) Most golf web sites appeal to golfers of all ages, and it is cause for celebration among us 60-somethings when one debuts that is singularly focused on us. Enter, the brainchild of Brad Chambers.
        Brad and I will be meeting for a couple of rounds of golf in Pawleys Island, SC, the first week in December to share experiences and ideas, and most of all to discuss how we might work together to enhance the flow of information to baby boomers who love golf as much as we do. Brad’s mission is to help us all “golf better” as we “grow older.” His background is uniquely appropriate to his new enterprise, beyond just being a baby boomer who plays golf. For the better part of three decades, Brad has trained business and non-profit employees in the art of leadership. As a dedicated golfer, he began to see an interesting nexus between the game we all love and leadership principles. Here is how he puts it: “Golf, more than any other sport, exhibits, showcases, and sometimes rejects those displaying -- or not -- leadership principles. Your ball moved in the woods? Only you know. Integrity is on display at all times.” Brad calls this flouting of the rules on the golf course an example of “Cowardly Leadership” which is also the name of a book he has published.
        Having spoken about leadership with dozens of groups, Brad has a singular way of communicating often complex topics in clear terms.  Although I have never heard him speak, I know his communication ability after I invited him to draft an article for Home On The Course, my free monthly newsletter. That article will appear in the next few weeks in our December edition. Brad’s writing style is clear yet informal, direct yet helpful for any of us who play the game. He is also an avid tweeter who weighs in on most golf-related issues. You can sign up for his tweets at; just search for ShootingYourAge. And sign up now for our free monthly newsletter, Home On The Course, to read Brad’s own thoughts on searching for a golf home. (He and his wife are a couple of years away but already going through the thought process.)

        For those who have read this far, currently subscribe to Home On The Course (or subscribe in the next two days), and live in or will be visiting the Pawleys Island, SC, area on December 5, send me an email if you would like to join Brad and me for our round of golf at Pawleys Plantation, a fine Jack Nicklaus layout about a half hour south of Myrtle Beach. I will be pleased to host the first two who sign up. I can promise there will be a lot of talk about living in a golf community, reviews of golf courses around the world, and how to be a good leader on and off the course. You might even learn how to shoot your age.
Pawleys1613The greens at the par four 16th (foreground) and par 3 13th at Pawleys Plantation are backed by the marsh that separates the golf community from the Pawleys Island beach.