Travel & Leisure

Resort Living: The Enduring Appeal of a Golf Course Home

Golf course homes offer more than just the game itself—there’s the hotel amenities, club membership, views, and stunning locations around the world to tempt buyers

In the year the Open celebrates its 150th anniversary, the renewed popularity of golf is creating a buoyant market for homes designed with players in mind. According to the leading industry body, the number of golfers has risen by nearly 10 percent over the past five years to 66.6 million worldwide, with the pandemic being held responsible for highlighting the health benefits of a sport that can be played outdoors at a safe distance from other participants.

The figures represent a turnaround in fortunes of a sport whose popularity had previously fallen into decline, reducing the number of greens available as courses were sold off for development. While the largest increases in the golfing population between 2016 and 2021 were in the U.K., Ireland and Asia, North America continued to top the charts for player numbers and is still home to nearly half the total pool.

Scotland was building new courses to attract international players while they were closing in other countries—Angus Watson, Hamilton Grand Hotel

Perhaps that’s why so many are keen to facilitate a regular round by bringing the course to their doorstep. Proximity to greens has become a major selling point in the residential market, exemplified by a two-bedroom apartment overlooking the 18th hole at The Old Course in St. Andrews, Scotland, home of the 2022 Open, which smashed sales records when it sold earlier this year for £4 million ($4.9 m)—more than 10 times the average price for a home of the same size in Edinburgh.

Flats and shops overlooking The Old Course, St Andrews, Scotland
The 18th hole of the Old Course and the town sit side by side in Scotland. The Old Course at St. Andrews is considered to be the home of golf—it is claimed that the sport was first played here in the early 15th century. Credit: Alamy

“Scotland was building new courses to attract international players while they were closing in other countries”, says Angus Watson, sales director of Hamilton Grand, the converted Victorian hotel whose record-breaking flat overlooking The Old Course is one of 27 with a seven-figure price tag.

The majority of buyers are drawn by the chance to apply to play on the world-famous championship links the properties overlook as well as several more in the area operated by the same trust, says Watson. “You do have to enter a ballot for a tee time, but there are so many courses round here there’s always somewhere to play—St. Andrews is the home of golf,” he adds.

Bunker on a golf course in Georgia, USA with water and bridge in background
Augusta Country Club in Georgia is one of America’s first golf courses, first documented in 1899 but founded a few years earlier. The four men who introduced golf to the area were Dr. William Harison Jr., Morley Harison, Henry Cumming, and Louis Berckmans. Credit: Alamy

The ready availability of golf courses cannot be said of many parts of the U.S., where a slump in the popularity of golf before the pandemic saw many sold for development as interest declined. However, Georgia, with a temperate climate suitable for playing all year round, has remained a safe bet for golfers prepared to pay a premium to live on the greens, says Bryan Peterson of Christie’s International Real Estate affiliate Ansley Real Estate. “In the 25 years I have lived in the south I have not heard of golf courses being sold as they were in the Midwest, where I come from,” he confirms.

Peterson, senior director of social media and agent marketing at Ansley, sees interest not only from retirees and purchasers of second homes but a new generation aspiring to live in the golfing communities for which the Atlanta-based affiliate holds listings throughout the state. “They include young tech executives keen to trade up from a $1 million (£816,000) home to those with the amenities you find only in golf communities—not only a course most likely designed by a pro, but a much bigger pool and clubhouse than you’ll find in non-golf country club complexes. Buyers still have to apply to join the club and play on the course, but those who become members can tee off from right on their doorstep.”

Golf Course Homes Prove Popular in Europe

In Europe, the Algarve is famed for its wealth of golf course communities, and Bruno Silvério, marketing and communications director for United Investments Portugal, which owns the prestigious Pine Cliffs development, reports a high number of investors looking to profit from holiday rentals when not using their property, as well as second home seekers among their buyers.

Vale do Lobo Golf Course, Algarve, Portugal overlooking the sea
The Algarve in Portugal is one the world’s best golfing destinations with a mild Mediterranean climate and multiple courses offering varied conditions, and many enjoy stunning views. The course at Vale do Lobo, pictured above, runs alongside a nature reserve. Credit: Alamy

Clients from everywhere from Brazil to the Philippines, Dubai to the U.S., as well as the U.K. and Portugal are on UIP’s books, and Silvério explains they are drawn as much by what comes with the golf at Pine Cliffs as the course itself: “[There are] twelve restaurants, eight swimming pools, a children’s village, two gyms, and an 11,000-square-meter award-winning spa, as well as 72 hectares (178 acres) of pine trees and gardens atop one of the most beautiful cliffs in Europe,” he says of the development on which several units are currently listed by Christie’s International Real Estate affiliate Luximos.

Investment Potential 

Investment potential, adds Silvério, is “a no-brainer on a gated property managed by Marriott International with private beach access and 24-hour security in one of the safest countries in the world.” Properties in the development have consistently gained in value and he quotes a minimum 5% annual return on investment in rental yield on most properties, which range from apartments to luxury villas. More than a fifth of owners have invested in more than one property.

Buyers in the U.S. should be careful to check the rules of the homeowners’ associations of golf course communities as some do prohibit subletting. Although sometimes these rules only enhance the serenity of living on a course, and you don’t have to be a player to enjoy the breathtaking views of beautifully maintained greens stretching into the distance, many with an ocean view to boot.

On the Market

Beautiful Home in Milton, Georgia

Large light lounge area with windows onto the garden and open plan kitchen in the background
This lovely family home, built in 2006, enjoys resort-like amenities with tennis, golf, a restaurant, and a fitness club available. There’s also a three-car garage, and an area which could be used as a separate playroom, office, or den.

Recently renovated from top to bottom, this lovely home is set on a one-acre (0.4 ha) plot with a large, landscaped backyard featuring a swimming pool. Each of the five bedrooms enjoys a private bathroom and large built-in closet. The primary bedroom also has a sitting area, coffee bar, fireplace, and automatic Mechoshades that can be opened and closed remotely, while its bathroom features a soaking tub, steam shower, and marble counters. At terrace level, a finished recreation space with abundant storage and room for an additional bedroom and bathroom awaits.

Stunning Apartment with Hotel Services 

External villa set amid green grounds
This well-appointed apartment features two bedrooms and two full bathrooms, fitted wooden wardrobes, and a 24-hour centralized surveillance service. A round of golf is just a few steps away.

A lovely apartment set in a pine forest, overlooking the sea, and adjacent to a golf course and tourist resort. Located five minutes from the center of Albufeira and 40 minutes from Faro International Airport, there’s a shared swimming pool, a private terrace, and garden views. There’s also the benefit of access to all hotel services.

Duplex Villa with Amenities and Golf Course Access

White terraced properties facing water
The resort next to this property has a number of restaurants including O Grill, which serves a full American breakfast during high season, and the Clubhouse, which provides food and drinks at breakfast and lunchtimes, including a menu for children.

This duplex villa is surrounded by a beautifully clear stream, and offers landscaped gardens and access to swimming pools, while the golf course and nearby resort are only a short stroll away. The property has two bedrooms, three bathrooms, and a private terrace, plus all the hotel amenities can be enjoyed by residents.

Banner: View of the Old Course, St. Andrews, Scotland. Credit: Alamy