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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

‘Tis the season for Coastal golf community discovery tours

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The new Cape Fear National Golf Club is part of the $179 three-day discovery tour courtesy of Brunswick Forest, near Wilmington, NC.

Photo courtesy Cape Fear National.


        Golf communities know that if they can get a couple to stay on their property for a few days, try out the golf course, maybe have a nice meal in the clubhouse and partake of the area’s cultural and entertainment activities, they have a fair chance of making a sale.  Back when the market was good, some communities told me nearly 20% of those who visited wound up buying property.  Today, the number is closer to 5%, but if you are selling dirt for, say, $150,000, a hit rate of 1 in 20 still is not bad if the total acquisition cost is just a few thousand dollars.

        Communities use the lure of a cheap vacation to generate traffic to their properties.  For a couple hundred dollars or so, they offer “discovery tours” that typically include a couple of days of lodging, golf

Communities are willing to subsidize visits and golf just for the chance of showing off their property.

and perhaps a meal or two.  How does “3 days and 2 nights in Historic Wilmington, NC” strike you for just $179, including a room in a luxury downtown hotel, round of golf for two, access to an 18,000 square foot fitness and wellness center, a poolside lunch, a trolley tour and dining discount at a waterfront café?  That’s the deal currently at Brunswick Forest, a three-year old community outside of Wilmington that just debuted a new Tim Cate golf course.  Brunswick Forest’s developers have deep pockets, as I have reported here, which adds a little cushion of safety for those who are skeptical of communities that are still in development.

        Further up the Carolina coast, Ocean Ridge Plantation, a mature and golf-loaded community, is running a $199 3 day, 2 night discovery special to celebrate the opening of new properties.  It includes lodging in a golf cottage on site, a round of golf at one of the club’s six courses, and lunch in the clubhouse.  Ocean Ridge is substantially built out, and its publicly accessible “Cats” golf courses (all named after jungle felines) are popular, especially Tiger’s Eye.  It is just a few miles from the ocean and about 20 minutes from Myrtle Beach.

        The lowest priced discovery tour I have seen anywhere is at

One community offers 3 days and 2 nights for just $40.

Brunswick Plantation, which is just a few miles from Ocean Ridge, where you can stay on property for 3 days and 2 nights for just $40, or 5 days and 4 nights for $90.  Golf is extra, maybe another $50, but if you were to purchase a 3-day golf and lodging package in one of the Brunswick Plantation villas, without the discovery tour, you would pay from $150 to $210, depending on the season.

        These are just a few of the many discovery tours available throughout the southeast, and even those communities that don’t promote them can make arrangements for a stay.  (Note:  If you are interested in arranging a couple of days at a particular community, contact me and I will make the arrangements for you.)

        A few discovery tours packed into a week can make for a nice little vacation, but more importantly, they can bring the nuances of each community into sharper focus when compared with the others.  If you do visit, make sure that you:

√  play at least one golf course per community;

√  dine in the clubhouses (lunch, at least) to test the food and the atmosphere;

√  define the type of home and property you are considering, and make sure the developer’s agent shows you a sample of those;

√  resist being smitten by amenities you won’t use, since you will wind up subsidizing them (in your dues payments);

  and make sure the developer’s agent furnishes you with an accounting of all costs of living in the community, including taxes, homeowner association dues and assessments (insurance and cable TV are typically included), and club dues. 

        One other suggestion:  During your visit, make a call with your cell phone; some properties are on the fringes of cell phone service areas.

        So what’s the catch, you might ask?  Well, married couples must visit together and you do have to

After your visit, expect a flow of emails, brochures and phone calls.  But the savings may justify the inconvenience.

submit to a presentation and tour of each community by a developer’s sales representative.  And when you return home, expect a continuing flow of email messages, marketing brochures and phone calls, at least until you make it clear you are not interested in the community or purchase property somewhere else.  But if you don’t mind the occasional intrusion via mailbox and phone, it may be worth the savings.

        And you might just discover the community of your dreams.

Read 8032 times Last modified on Tuesday, 26 January 2010 17:01
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Larry Gavrich

This blog was conceived and is published by me, Larry Gavrich, a former corporate communications executive who founded HomeOnTheCourse, LLC, in 2005.  Our firm advises baby boomers and others seeking a lifestyle in which golf is a major component.  My wife Connie and I own a home in Connecticut (not on a golf course) and a condo at Pawleys Plantation in Pawleys Island, SC, on a Jack Nicklaus layout.  We began our search for our home on the course more than 15 years ago, and the challenges of the search inspired me to research golf communities and write objective reviews of them.