I am headed to The Manor golf resort in rural Virginia next week to watch a two-day college golf tournament hosted by Hampden-Sydney College. Back in the heyday of planned community development, which is to say before the housing market became so overheated that it took only a few matches like Countrywide Financial’s greedy lending practices and Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy to send everything into flames, The Manor seemed like a no-lose proposition to its developers and the banks that backed them. Today, however, the story is too familiar: Unable to sell enough property or to appeal to enough cash-strapped vacationers, the Manor's developers have gone bankrupt and those who remain -– bankers, other local investors, property owners, the young couple recruited just last year to open the upscale restaurant on site -- are left to sort things out.
These disasters, though, spell opportunity for shrewd businesspeople whose deep pockets have survived the recession. It is always instructive to remember that some people became rich -– or maybe the right term is “richer” –- during the Great Depression by
As we have reported in this space, John McConnell, a software millionaire, has taken a slightly different approach to the deep discounts in the market. He has bought up six excellent private golf clubs in recent years in the Carolinas and transformed them into his own private “golf trail,” providing club members with a variety of golfing experiences for one membership fee. All these clubs, especially Raleigh Country Club,
Rich investors are not the only ones who benefit from the tenuous nature of golf clubs. Those of us who are ready to make the leap into a retirement living situation that involves golf will find that, with a little appetite for risk, we will pay prices for land and existing homes on golf courses that are dramatically lower than just a few years ago. Risk, of course, is directly related to the perception of the community’s owner and his financial resources. You can mitigate the risk by doing your homework, looking at the owner’s history and maybe even calling him or her personally (in this market, they are likely to take your call). Or contact me, and I will call him.
I will have more to say about financial security in golf communities in the September issue of our free newsletter, Home On The Course, which will be ready within the week. Sign up by clicking the box at the top of this column.
Musgrove Mill is one of six private golf clubs purchased in the last few years by Raleigh businessman John McConnell.