Desperately seeking distinction: When all communities are wonderful, none are

    I love the hit TV show Mad Men.  Its insight into the mentality and practices of ad agencies in the 1960s is more interesting to me than its soap opera couplings, breakups and intrigues.  Much has changed in the business since the ‘60s as ad agencies were forced to reinvent themselves almost constantly thanks to changing communication technologies and globalization.  One thing in the business, however, has remained unchanged:  An ad agency never takes on more than one client per industry.  Delta Airlines, for example, would never stand for its agency of record adding American Airlines to its client roster.

     That, of course, is common sense.  An agency with two such clients could favor the one who paid a little more or was easier to work with.  Even if the agency were to serve both clients equally well, where would the competitive edge be for one or the other.  They would both be wasting their fees just to stay even.

     In the realm of golf community marketing, no such conflict exists in the

Egyptian pyramids are incredible. Brigitte Bardot was incredible. The '69 Mets winning the World Series was incredible.  But a golf community?

minds of the developers or the marketers they hire.  Do a Web search using the terms "private golf communities," for example, and you will come up with dozens of sites that promote dozens of golf communities.  Every description of every golf community reads like Shangri La; read enough of them and you get the impression any would suit your every want and need.  Yet when every community is perfect, then none of them are, and the clients are wasting their money.

    Today, I received an email from a firm that markets golf communities.  It was titled, "Four Incredible Communities to Consider for Relocation or Second Home Ownership."  I cringe whenever I see a word like "incredible" or "magnificent" used to describe a golf community.  The Egyptian pyramids are "incredible."  Brigitte Bardot was "incredible" in her day (former teenage boy talking).  The New York Mets winning the 1969 World Series was "incredible."  But a golf community?


The approach to the 8th hole on the Arthur Hills course at Dataw Island Golf Club gives a hint of a community that is well manicured and inviting, and its homes are reasonably priced as well.  But not even the most dedicated resident would claim it is "incredible," nor would any but the most addled resident anywhere say the same about their own community.


     The four incredibles in the email are Barefoot Resort in Myrtle Beach (SC), Dataw Island (SC), The Thistle Golf Community (Sunset Beach, NC) and Belfair (Bluffton, SC).  I know all four of them well and have played their golf courses.  I can recommend each as a fine place to live and play.  But all of them fall short of incredibleness. 

     Belfair's nicely landscaped community and golf Fazio golf courses and its canopy of live oaks as you drive in are especially welcoming after escaping the bumper-to-bumper traffic just outside its gates (thanks to nearby Hilton Head's growth over the last few decades).  Dataw Island is beautiful, with reasonably priced homes and two playable designer golf courses, but the community is a good half-hour drive to any town of consequence (in this case, the charming Beaufort).  Barefoot Resort throws a lot of excellent golf at its residents, with courses by Dye, Norman, Love and Fazio, but all the fast food places just outside the gates is a constant reminder of the honky tonk nature of Myrtle Beach.  The Thistle, a community of just 130 homes at completion, almost all of which will face the golf course or a natural landscape, is well located for those who want the beach within a couple of miles, and modern services even closer, but want to feel as if they are many miles away.  Still, Thistle members must share their fine golf course with the Myrtle Beach package least for now.

     There is a lot of hype out there, and some of it is convincing enough to cause people to visit, only to find the community wasn't quite as advertised and definitely not what they were looking for.  Before you invest your own time and money to visit a golf community that sounds flawless, check with independent sources, like local real estate agents.  They generally do not care where you buy, as long as you buy through them.  Or check out some of the online forums dedicated to certain areas of the country.  Local golf communities often come up for discussion, but beware of those posters with axes to grind. 

     Or you can contact me, we can talk about what is important to you in your next home on the course, and I can help you identify what areas and communities best suit your criteria.  I can't quite guarantee you paradise, but then who can?


The live oaks on the drive into Belfair welcome residents, especially after surviving the traffic just outside the gates.  

Like what you see?

Hit the buttons below to follow us, you won't regret it...