The Best of 2010 (first in a series)

        Thousands of baby boomers and others who had previously envisioned a warmer, less expensive life continued to put off going south in 2010 as the economy and prices they could fetch for their primary homes went south, metaphorically speaking.  The lack of buyers, especially in the mid-six-figures and beyond, put an extraordinary amount of stress on golf communities that had not developed most or all of the adjacent real estate or, even worse, had not built and paid for their promised amenities.  At year’s end, even the mighty Cliffs Communities announced (internally only, of course) that they were putting the brakes on the first American Tiger Woods golf course, at least for now.

        Still, flowers can grow on a dung heap economy, and we salute those that persevered with distinction.  Only golf communities we visited are included in our first annual series of awards because, as advertising budgets go down, we are skeptical about the hype coming directly from many golf communities.  And, anyway, we stopped believing everything we read after the Chicago Tribune declared on its front page, “DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN.”


Best Golf Community Owned by Austrians and Located Next to a Sage Farm

Winner:  Scotch Hall Preserve, Merry Hill, NC

Runner-Up:  None


        Old Arab proverb:  “Why should a man die whilst he has sage in his garden?”  The herb has long been thought to be a cure for many common ailments and an effective preservative of meat.  Indeed, sage aids in digestion of fat rich foods and, for that reason, has long been included in recipes for sausage, turkey and patés.

        The Austrian developers of Scotch Hall Preserve in rural North Carolina, just 20 minutes from the small but historic

A little bit of Austria in rural North Carolina.

town of Edenton, are hoping that curative winds from the 2,400-acre sage farm across the street will blow in their direction.  Opened just a few years before the economy sank, Scotch Hall Preserve was originally named Innsbrook, a consciously Americanized spelling of its owners’ hometown of Innsbruck.  The name was changed in honor of a historical landmark at the edge of the community’s property and, no doubt, for greater relevance to an American market (the switch came shortly after the owners hired the firm IMI to handle sales and marketing activities for Scotch Hall).

        The 1,000-acre Scotch Hall Preserve is nicely sited along the peaceful Albemarle Sound, and its Arnold Palmer golf course, designed by Palmer architect Erik Larsen, is fun to play and considered by the North Carolina Golf Rating Panel as #45 in a state chock-a-block with excellent layouts (see  IMI and the Austrians have priced properties appropriately, and the $300,000, ¾ acre lots with 10-mile views along the sound and ability to install a boat dock are among the lowest-priced waterfront properties in my experience.  Golf course properties are available in the $100s, and cottage style homes of around 2,600 square feet start in the $500s.

        A total of 42 of 93 lots in Phase 1 at Scotch Hall Preserve remain for sale, and the membership roll at the golf club is wide open (initiation fee of $15,000 is included in the price of a property and monthly dues are less than $200).  Golf communities like Scotch Hall are eager to sell property (and produce cash flow), which tilts the negotiation process toward serious buyers.

        You can read my original review of Scotch Hall Preserve by clicking hereContact me if you would like more information and to make a visit to stop and smell the sage at Scotch Hall Preserve.


At under 300 yards from the blue tees, the 12th hole at Scotch Hall Preserve is one of those short par 4s that beg you to go for the green, and then punish you for missing.



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