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February 2019

HOTC February 2019 Correction

The February edition of Home On The Course indicated that there are three strictly private golf courses along the Grand Strand of Myrtle Beach.  I forgot one:  The Members Club at Grande Dunes in Myrtle Beach.  The club is managed by The McConnell Group which owns The Reserve at Litchfield.  My apologies for the oversight. 

Larry Gavrich
Founder & Editor
Home On The Course, LLC

Couples bring their own particular styles to the search for a golf community home.  Knowing which “type” you are can help avoid pitfalls in the search and, perhaps, an argument or two.
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February 2019 
Brookgreen Gardens, Litchfield, SC

Going Private South of Myrtle Beach

There was a time when you could stand anywhere on the Grand Strand of Myrtle Beach with a pitching wedge in your hand and a ball at your feet and be confident a well struck shot would reach one of the area’s 120+ golf courses.  Okay, that is a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the point.  The array of golf courses was dizzying.  Today, after about 15 percent of those clubs have closed over the last decade, and a few more are threatened, you might need a crisp five iron to reach one of them.   The choices today, if not dizzying, certainly border on the overwhelming.  

But private country clubs in the Myrtle Beach market are in short supply.  Out of the current 100 clubs, only three are strictly for members (and their guests) only; and they are all located south of Myrtle Beach in Georgetown County. 

Farthest south in Georgetown is DeBordieu, roughly translated as “the land of God.”  DeBordieu’s golf course is the land of Dye, as in Pete Dye, whose unique style features pot bunkers, fairway swales and railroad ties that keep greens from falling into adjacent lakes.  The community appeals to both golfers and beachgoers in that it features a three-mile long stretch of sand along the Atlantic, reached easily by residents in golf cart, on bicycle or with foot power.

Dye could not have been too happy that the plot given over to the golf course did not include any views of the adjacent ocean, but the prevailing winds nevertheless can play havoc with shots, especially on the two long finishing holes, among the toughest in all of Myrtle Beach. 

Given the private beach access inside the community’s guarded gate, the Dye golf and some impressive Low Country landscaping, including 100-plus year old Live Oak trees, home prices starting at $590,000 may seem high –- they are the highest in the area – but a bargain for those who treasure beach and golf.

Saved from financial ruin by the McConnell Group, members at The Reserve at Litchfield who don’t mind traveling a couple of hours enjoy full privileges at such iconic layouts as Sedgefield in Greensboro, NC, a Donald Ross layout that plays host to the annual Wyndham Championship on the PGA Tour; Treyburn in Durham, NC, a sleek Tom Fazio layout set amidst an upscale community of homes; and Musgrove Mill in rural South Carolina, the toughest golf course I have played in the Southeast (out of, perhaps, 100 or so).  The Reserve, whose golf course was designed by Greg Norman, is located on the Waccamaw River and maintains a marina for those who enjoy a pleasant post-round float.  Membership in the Reserve Country Club is reasonably priced, given the extra privileges at those other dozen classic courses.  Real estate prices, for existing single-family homes, start in the mid $500s.  

Wachesaw Plantation, an active golf community in Murrells Inlet and home to an early Tom Fazio layout, is closer to citified services such as top restaurants, shopping and the area’s major hospital, less than two minutes away.  The 40-year-old community is also just eight minutes from Huntington Beach State Park, a gorgeous stretch of public beach that was once owned by a wealthy local family.  (The Huntington’s other local legacy is Brookgreen Gardens, whose hundreds of acres of landscaped gardens, fountains and pools are home to sculptures of all shapes and sizes.) With reasonable joining fees, an active group of members and real estate prices that are among the most reasonable in the area on a dollar-per-square-foot basis, Wachesaw should be a target for any couple looking to play a lot of golf in retirement (and who may have thought a private club was beyond their reach).

Two other nearly private clubs — they permit access for some vacationing golfers from a select group of local hotels — are worth mentioning.  Surf Club is a classic course originally designed in 1960 by the renowned George Cobb and later renovated by one of my favorites, John LaFoy.  With reasonable joining fees and very limited access by non-members, the Surf Club will be a wise choice for those golfers who live a short drive away.  

If you want to keep up with the Joneses, as in Robert Trent and his son Rees, The Dunes Golf and Beach Club is the only choice you have in Myrtle Beach.  (The elder Jones’ only other local layout, Waterway Hills, closed a few years ago.)  Originally opened in 1949, making it the second course in Myrtle Beach (Pine Lakes International, known as The Granddaddy, was the first), The Dunes typically vies for best course in the area honors.  Visiting golfers return home talking about the famous Dunes 590 yard par 5 13th hole that wraps three-quarters of the way around a lake, forcing risk/reward second shots and scary approaches to the green.

 


If you are considering a search for a permanent or vacation home in a golf-oriented area, please contact me for a free, no-obligation consultation at editor@homeonthecourse.com


The Types of Golf Community Buyers:
Knowing Your “Style” Could Help Your Search

In assisting scores of couples searching for golf community homes over the last dozen years, I have found their approaches to their searches to be diverse (to indulge in a big understatement).  The purchase of any home is a major investment and, like the purchase of clothing, your home search should fit your personality for the most appropriate outcome.  Knowing what type you and your significant other are can be helpful in dealing with the idiosyncrasies of searching for a golf community home and, eventually, coming to a decision.

For each type of searcher below, I indicate how it might be helpful to step out of character a bit when considering where to live and play.

How Much is that Doggie in the Window

Let’s face it:  Some of us wait for sales to buy a dress or suit, and others shop for exactly what they want, and bugger the cost (as my British relatives would say).  In my experience, those who put finding a bargain first and their perfect location second will be doomed to an unhappy selection.  For these types, the Internet is the seductive enemy, making it too simple to identify the cheapest golf course homes in the Sunbelt.  With a calculator by your side, all you need to find the “highest value” home is to search on Zillow (zillow.com) or Trulia (trulia.com) for homes in golf communities and then divide the selling price of the homes by their square footage.

I have done this myself to compare values one community to the next in behalf of couples that have narrowed their searches to two or three communities.  Valid comparisons require that the housing stock is of a similar quality and style and, more importantly, that the lifestyles inside the gate are comparable.  Having visited more than 150 golf communities, I have an idea of which communities compare favorably across a number of criteria.  But those who have not had the experience of a visit inside the gates for a day or two cannot know what the golf course is like, whether the neighborhoods and their homes look and feel the same way they present themselves online, and if potential neighbors seem happy with their choice.

Advice:  Never start your research looking at homes.  Choose your geography first — mountains, coast or somewhere in between — and then consider the communities located in those target areas.   Check prices online only to confirm that there is a selection of homes within your range.  Visit the communities that match your criteria and, only then, start to get specific about homes.

Research Junkies

This is another thing the Internet has wrought:  So much information available — including reviews — that, in theory, a couple knows in advance everything they need to know about a golf community they might later visit.  Although I endorse research — I do it all the time in behalf of clients — couples who visit a golf community with a strongly preconceived notion will likely be doomed to repeated dissatisfaction.  This is largely because golf communities, like any other “retailer” of merchandise, position themselves as the best option in a crowded field, a reason why the words “best” and “most” are in abundant supply on golf community web sites.

Advice:  Use the Internet to determine specifics about a golf community, such as type of membership in the golf club, the number of golf courses, fees (if noted on the web site), types of homes (condos, single-family, a mix), price range of homes, distance to shopping and other services you want and need, climate (there are big differences across the Southeast) and other data points.  Avoid, like the plague, any qualitative stipulations made by the communities; if and when you visit, make your own judgments on those.


Couples that can’t decide on mountains or coastal could “compromise” with a home on a lake.  (Pictured:  Reserve at Lake Keowee, Sunset, SC)

Browsers

The one “tell” for me about a couple that is not serious about finding a golf home is when I ask, “Coast, mountains or lake?” and the response is, “Oh, we’re open to all of them.”  (I can’t seem to say no to any clients, so this is where I utter a silent oath of, “Oy, this is going to be a long one.”)  In 12 years, I do not recall a couple of Browsers ever buying a home, at least not with my help.

I find it hard to believe that some couples do not know if they prefer the combination of cool winters and warm summers, or the combination of warm winters and hot summers. I recognize that this condition could be the result of a couple having a significant disagreement about where each would like to live. If that is the case, do not expect détente to come out of visits to two entirely different geographic areas. You will only make yourselves miserable (or more miserable).

Advice:  The easiest (laziest) piece of advice is to choose some place in between mountains and coast, for example by a nice lake in the interior of the Carolinas, Virginia or Georgia.  But that has the potential of dooming both partners to a life of misery if one wants mountains and the other the beach.  Better is my standard advice, which is for the spouse more interested in playing golf to let his/her partner make the call on where to live.  There is great golf throughout the Southeast, and the serious golfer can be content anywhere.  A happy spouse will avoid marital discord and help you concentrate on your golf game.

Some Other Types

There are some couples that have a clear idea of the kind of home they want.  But once they identify the community to live in and start looking at homes, they can’t find one that fits.  Advice:  Consider purchasing a lot in the target community and building a home to your exact specs.  In many cases, especially where lots are still reasonably priced, you can build your dream home for about what it would cost to purchase a new home that is on the market.  Yes, it is a challenge to supervise the construction of your home, especially long distance, but some of my clients have rented a home to be able to keep a close eye on that dream home.

There are also couples for whom the journey is everything, and a final decision is secondary (and illusory).  My Shakespearean Advice:  Above all else, “To thine own self be true.”  You really don’t want to move. 

And then there is the rare couple that is never satisfied.  They always seem to find something, however small, to argue against an obvious choice.  This couple, I am convinced, is here to make the rest of us miserable, especially real estate agents.   Advice:  Please don’t contact me.

 

Larry Gavrich
Founder & Editor
Home On The Course, LLC

 

 

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