For a lot of people the dream of retirement includes golf – and plenty of it. We’ve seen lists of the top 10 golf communities from other sources in the past, but frankly, they were less than satisfying. Nice list, no passion. That inspired us to a project we could really get into the swing of – the Topretirements.com list of top 10 golfing towns for retirees. Our criteria: the ready availability of great golf, relatively low cost, and other redeeming (non-golf) features, where possible.
Compiling a list like this by a self-described golf nut is a challenge – mostly about whom to exclude. So here goes:
1. Myrtle Beach, SC – How could this not be #1, with more than 115 golf courses of every type. You can play along the ocean, have a cup of chowder served to you on the tee, play in forests, along the intercoastal; heck, you can even play night-time golf under the lights. Prices are surprisingly reasonable because of all the competition, and there are a ton of great active adult communities to choose from.
2. Pinehurst, NC – Pinehurst Village itself is not the most inexpensive place to play, but for heaven’s sake, the place is a shrine to the sport! The statue on #2 of Payne Stewart will take your breath away. Surrounding towns like Southern Pines are less expensive and offer all kinds of great golf.
3. Orlando, FL – Courses of every description saturate the Orlando area. It’s a bustling city with plenty to do (Disney, anyone?). Many big PGA tournaments are held in the area for dedicated fans.
4. Palm Springs, CA – On the plane coming in the Coachella Valley spreads out before you for miles and miles. And much of that green down there comes from the dozens of great golf courses. After all, Bob Hope retired here for a reason – golf! Choose from many outstanding communities to fit every budget.
5. Fort Myers, FL – It isn’t a law that every active adult community in Fort Myers has a golf course, but it might as well be. This Lee County town is bursting with golf courses, including a pair of great municipal courses right in town – Eastwood is our personal favorite and a great test. No need to belong anywhere, there is always a deal somewhere.
6. The Villages, near Ocala FL. – This gigantic active community has more golf courses than you could even want – 33 golf courses and 8 country clubs, and a reasonable price too. The Sun City and Peachtree City communities are close to being in the same league.
7. Amelia Island (Fernandina Beach, FL) – Amelia Island is probably the most upscale golf community on this list. It has 5 great golf courses on the Island (most of them with holes on the ocean!) plus it is just a super place to live. It’s perpetual summer camp for adults.
8. Bandon, OR – This charming small town above the Oregon coast has some of the best golf on the planet in Bandon Dunes, Bandon Pacific, Bandon Trails, and the newest – Old MacDonald. These classic links courses are reminiscent of Ireland and Scottish golf – they attract golfers from all over the world for their challenging holes overlooking the gigantic dunes and raging Pacific.
9. Hilton Head SC – Hilton Head is the home of another PGA tournament, the Heritage Classic. Don’t miss Sea Pines Plantation and the famous Harbor Town golf course. Surrounding towns like Bluffton have non-stop golfing opportunities too.
10. St. George UT – There are at least 8 golf courses in the St. George area, and more are on the way. The town has been the fastest growing community in the U.S., and much of that growth is among retirees looking for a good game of golf. You can climb in Mt. Zion National Park on your off days.
Honorable Mention: Crossville, Tenn. This top retirement town in the Central part of the state has 12 golf courses and is dubbed the “Golf Capital of Tennessee”.
So, there’s our list. let us know what you think – who did we miss? To compare, here is an older list from U.S. News & World Report:
* Auburn, Ala.
* Bonita Springs, Fla.
* Charlotte, N.C.
* Georgetown, Texas
* Lemont, Ill.
* Mount Pleasant, S.C.
* Portland, Ore.
* Rancho Mirage, Calif.
* St. George, Utah
* Sun City, Ariz.
For further reading:
Dream of Golf Course Living Turns into Nightmare
Comments: What are your favorite golf course towns? Please use the Comments section below.
Golf Digest’s “The Cost of Golf in Retirement“, a review of a golfing retirement in 5 top golf towns