In part one, I drew a comparison between the thought processes that go into building a high-quality fantasy baseball team and those that involve searching for a golf community home. In the end, you are most likely to be successful if you take a balanced approach in both. Here is the second part of the article.

Cape Fear NationalThe Cape Fear National golf course is part of the golf community known as Brunswick Forest in Leland, NC. Brunswick Forest is just 10 minutes from the historic yet modern city of Wilmington.

Proximity Being within an easy drive of things of importance is one of the most critical considerations a couple have when searching for golf home. Whether you prefer to live in a quiet, remote location or close to the excitement of a major city, there are some things you will prefer to have nearby and some things you must have nearby. In the must-have category I put medical care, especially for those retirees and others with a pre-existing medical condition that requires regular visits to a doctor. For those who will make frequent trips back to their hometowns, presumably up north, a good regional airport within a reasonable distance will make it not only easier to get home quickly but also will serve as a lure to family and friends to come visit you. When you choose to live at a distance from even modest-sized cities, you will need to do more planning around things you took for granted in your prior location. For example, in Pawleys Island, SC, home to about a dozen golf communities, there are five supermarkets withing five miles of each other. In McCormick, SC, home to the expansive and popular Savannah Lakes Village and its roughly 2,500 residents, there is just one supermarket, eight miles from the community’s front gate. If live to eat and prepare meals with the freshest, non-frozen ingredients, easy supermarket access will be important. If, however, you eat to live, an extra freezer and fewer trips to the supermarket should be just fine.

Real Estate Options Some golf communities comprise strictly single-family homes and others a mix of single-family homes and condominiums (aka townhomes). In those communities in which the developer took care to build attractive multiple-family dwellings – not high-rises – and landscape the community creatively, the blend of different types of homes will seem almost seamless. Real estate options in golf communities are wide ranging; although I never recommend searching for specific homes online, clients who have a few specific golf communities in mind might check those currently for sale to make sure the styles suit them. has uploaded homes for sale from multiple listing services nationwide and is a good place to start.

Mountain Air runway and golfEquestrian centers and marinas are among the rarest of amenities in golf communities. Even rarer are airplane landing strips like the one at Mountain Air in Burnsville, NC.

Costs If you have owned a home up north for more than a decade, you can afford a similar home in many parts of the Southeast. And if you are downsizing, as many retirees do, you will no doubt be surprised at the difference between what you can sell your primary home for and what it will cost you to live in a golf community in the Sunbelt. The most pleasant surprise will be the amount of property tax you will pay compared with what you paid in the home you have owned for years. I haven’t run my annual exercise to compare taxation and overall cost of living between northern cities and Sunbelt cities – I hope to do that in coming weeks – but count on a cost of living “discount” in your Southern home of as much as 40% compared with what you are used to.

Amenities Some of us have our non-negotiables about what we expect from our next home in a golf community. As we age, for example, we want to stay in shape, and therefore a nice fitness center in the community will be a must have. Making friends as quickly as possible is also high on relocating couples’ lists of priorities. For that purpose, a clubhouse with dining and organized events for members is more than helpful. Other golf community amenities are typically wide-ranging, such as pools, walking and biking trails, perhaps an ocean- or lake-side club, tennis, a marina, and on and on. Amenities per community are easy to research online.

Buyers’ Intuition This may be blindingly obvious, but no couple should make a six-figure or larger commitment without visiting the community where they will live – at least once and maybe two or three times. Play the golf course, meet some of the members, have dinner on site and outside the gates – in other words, make like you are a resident and club member for at least a few days. Many golf communities offer what they call “discovery packages” that make it easy to feel like a member for a few days. After meeting the people you will live amongst, playing the golf course you intend to play often and doing a lot of walking around, you will get a good feeling for what your lives will be like in the community on a more permanent basis.

If you are considering a search for a golf community home, I would be happy to help. I do not charge a fee for my assistance and, for a limited time, I am offering a free digital copy of my book, Glorious Back Nine: How to Find Your Dream Golf Home, for anyone who asks for my help. (Note: If you purchase a property with my assistance, I receive a referral fee from the real estate agent who works with you locally.). This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Spring training games begin in earnest this weekend and millions of fan-atics, like yours truly, have begun their deep dives into baseball statistics in the hopes they will defeat a group of friends – and, often, a few strangers – in their fantasy baseball leagues. Before I started playing fantasy baseball 15 years ago, I knew a lot more about golf communities. And when I wrote my book, Glorious Back Nine: How to Find Your Dream Golf Home, I borrowed some of the elements of building a fantasy baseball team. 

Over 15 years, it has become clear to me that those team managers who do the best job of weighing and balancing the 10 categories we measure in our fantasy baseball league are the ones who win year in and year out. Yes, there is luck involved, as an early injury to a star player can ruin a team’s season; conversely, an unheralded player might have a miraculous year that no one, except perhaps the team owner who drafted him, saw coming. But for the most part, slow and steady wins the race – and the prize money. And that is how it is with the search for a golf home.

Your search criteria, not unlike the categories in fantasy baseball, must be weighted in accordance with your (and your mate’s) lifestyle and balanced against each other’s preferences to create the kind of harmonious mix that will guarantee a happy life in your new home. In fantasy baseball, generally, a total of 10 categories form the basis of the competition – five for batters and five for pitchers. For the search for a golf community home, there are 10 criteria that will determine a successful search -- location, climate, size of community, composition of community (age-restricted or open), the local golf scene, proximity to important services, real estate options, costs, amenities and the buyers’ intuition.  The extent to which you weigh them against your preferences will determine if you have a winning search.

Savannah Lakes Tara Finiisher 1Savannah Lakes Village in McCormick, SC, sits beside Lake Thurmond, features two fine golf courses, and has some of the lowest amenity fees of any golf community. But it is eight miles from a supermarket and more than an hour from a city with a decent airport.  Those who crave quiet and no traffic or noise pollution will love it.  Those with an active, entertainment oriented lifestyle?  Maybe not.

Location   This criterion is essentially about topography and population density. Do you want to live at a distance from traffic problems and air and noise pollution, or would you prefer a suburban or urban area with all the culture and entertainment options associated with a nearby city? And do you prefer a mountain setting, a lake setting or a home on or near the ocean? (Side note: If you and your significant other cannot agree on topography, let the person who doesn’t play golf, or who is less serious about it, make the decision on topography. There are wonderful golf courses – and homes -- virtually everywhere.)

Climate   Over the last 70 years, the population of the Sunbelt has exploded, driven mostly by the millions of retirees and others seeking warmer and less expensive places to live. There are few perfect or near-perfect climates in the U.S. – San Diego comes close – and those seeking warmer winters will have to endure some beastly hot summer days in Florida, Georgia and much of the Carolinas. Mountain golf communities such as those in the areas near Asheville, NC, will provide temperate summers but at the cost of not playing golf over the coldest months of winter. For serious golfers, the choice comes down to whether you give up golf for some of the winter or you resign yourself to playing golf at 8 a.m. during Florida summers, before the stifling heat moves in.

Audubon Naples pink clubhouseIf you can afford to live and play in Naples, FL, half the year -- the winter half -- then you are golden. But summers are stifling hot and those with resources find cool comfort farther north.

Size of Community   Communities with a golf course (or two) inside the gates are, by definition, large. The nearly 5,000-acre community known as The Landings just outside Savannah, GA, is home to 8,000 residents, although not all of them live there year-round. I will never forget heading for one of The Landings six golf courses early on a Sunday morning years ago and, in my car’s rear view mirror, were a dozen or so golf carts coming over a rise in the road, following me to the golf course for a shotgun start. It reminded me of the famous helicopter scene in the movie Apocalypse Now. Some large communities, like The Landings, have successfully masked their sizes and populations by developing discrete neighborhoods. Don’t automatically dismiss a community because you think it is too big. If it seems to match all other criteria, visit and decide for yourself.

Composition of Community   This is an easy one to decide before you start your physical search for a golf community. Do you want to live with people roughly your own age in a community where children and young adults can make only short-term visits; or do you enjoy living among families and the squeals of happy children at the community pool? That is something you can and should decide before you make on-site visitations.

Landing approacvh live oak treeThe Landings near Savannah checks many desirable boxes for retired golfers. It features six golf courses and is only 20 minutes from downtown Savannah. The community is large -- 4,800 acres and 8,000 residents -- but it is organized into discrete neighborhoods that give The Landings a more intimate feel than its size implies.

The Local Golf Scene Golf   Many communities provide a full range of golf experiences. Private clubs treat their members special, bending over backwards to justify the initiation fees and monthly dues that are their lifeblood. Private courses tend to be in better shape and, often, more challenging than less expensive semi-private clubs. The semi-private clubs accept outside play and charge green fees, thereby supplementing the total of member dues. Many semi-privates do not charge an initiation fee and, therefore, can be a great choice for couples who do not plan to live and play year-round in the community. Many semi-private clubs, as well as purely public and municipal courses, are located outside the confines of golf communities but nearby; they are great options for those who only plan to play occasionally. Many golf communities offer a social membership that provides access to amenities, including the clubhouse, other than golf. Combining that lower priced membership with occasional play on accessible courses outside the gates can widen a couple’s social connections – and save money. (Note: Many golf rich areas offer reasonably priced memberships that include play at dozens of courses. In Myrtle Beach, for example, Founders Club International charges a modest annual fee that provides access to its fine roster of 23 golf courses at deeply discounted rates, as low as $30 a round.)

 Coming Next: The roles that Proximity, Real Estate Options, Costs, Amenities and Buyers’ Intuition play in your search for a golf home.