Make your own golf community

        A round of golf this past Monday in rural Vermont was a good reminder that a golfing lifestyle does not always mean life in a planned golf community. While visiting our daughter in St. Albans, VT, just 20 minutes from the Canadian border, my son in law and I played the circa 1920 classic layout at Champlain Country Club in nearby Swanton. The course is short – just under 6,300 yards from the tips – but sporty and fun, with a few extremely challenging holes (two par 3s stand out). I have played the golf course at least a half dozen times over the last five years, but Monday was the first time I focused on the view from behind the 8th green. Out there in the distance, just off the edge of the country club property, were a couple of homes. A little bit of online research after the round indicated they are part of Country Club Estates, with homes built in the 1980s and ‘90s.
        This is a reminder for those who don’t require the built-in amenities of a golf community – and who are reluctant to pay the homeowner association dues that come with those amenities – that you can find some very good deals close to counbtry clubs you can join in a more organically developed neighborhood. In Champlain Country Club’s case, it is one of those deals, with membership fees that will seem a bargain to anyone living in a planned community with a private or semi-private club.
Champlain from 8th green with housesFrom behind the 8th green at Champlain Country Club in Swanton, VT, homes in Country Club Estates dot the horizon.
        Currently, for those of us in the “Pre-Golden Years” category (70 to 74), annual membership is set at $881; with a weekday rack rate of $40, the membership pays for itself beginning with round 23. If you have made it to 75 and play golf twice a week, the annual fee of just $671 is a special bargain. (Other adults up to the age of 70 pay $1,128 per year, still quite a deal if you play a few times a week in the April to November season.) What I was impressed with especially, from a cost perspective, was that you can rent a golf cart for the year for just $448 (for a single seat) or $757 for a full cart. That single seat cart pays for itself by the 22nd round.
        The adjacent community of Country Club Estates is home to a couple dozen houses, none of which appear to be on the market currently. Last May, a 3-bedroom, 2-bath “executive ranch” home with 2,240 square feet sold for $365,000.  Assuming future homes that come on the market are priced similarly, a summer home in Vermont -- which, by the way, has one of the lowest per capita rates of Covid infections in the U.S. -- could pair nicely with a winter home in the South, providing comfortable year-round golf.
        I'll have a little more to say about the Champlain Country Club golf course soon at, our companion site which features some out of the way gems.