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The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly About Golf Course Living

Category: Active adult communities

July 23, 2018 — If you are like a lot of baby boomers your retirement dream might involve buying a home or condo in an active adult community with a golf course. It is easy to see the attraction – stroll over to the first tee anytime, gorgeous views, and when you tire of your own golf game you can enjoy watching others play or have a drink in the clubhouse.

Paradise – or Purgatory
In the shopping phase you look forward to golf whenever you want, getting your handicap down to where you think it belongs. And beside golf, you might have visions of you and your grandchildren riding around in a golf cart, or you and your husband enjoying a peaceful breakfast with a background of passing foursomes. Fortunately for many retirees, this experience comes true. But the actual reality could turn into something like this: loud curses repeated every 20 minutes – 12 hours a day, incoming golf balls that shatter peace and quiet (not to mention windows), or strangers hunting through your property on quests to retrieve their $4 Titleists (or worse, water your bushes with the proceeds of their last Beerweiser). Unfortunately, as
hundreds of lawsuits and thousands of unhappy active adults have found, your dream could turn into a nightmare. To spare you that trouble this article offers some common sense precautions and questions you should ask in the due diligence you should make before buying near a golf course.

What is the best location for a home on a golf course
One important consideration when deciding to live on a golf course involves where your home is located. Each position has its drawbacks or advantages. We will start with those:

By the tee:
– Advantage: You get to see the power shots at the beginning of the hole.
– Disadvantage: Cursing is usually worst on the tee, frequently repeated as each new group comes through.

Mid hole, right:
– Advantage: Sometimes this position gives you a good view of the entire hole.
– Disadvantage: Most golfers aren’t very good. Most right handers tend to slice the ball (it goes to the right), so unless your home is well-protected, lots of balls will be flying on to your property.

Mid hole, left:
– Advantage: Good view of the entire hole
– Disadvantage: Better golfers tend to hook; since there are fewer of them, you will experience fewer incoming missiles. Unfortunately hooks tend to be hit harder and go farther, so they could do more damage even to well-protected properties.

Near the green:
– Advantage: If you want to be right on a golf course, being near a green could be the best position. You get a pretty view and the generally shorter shots tend to be less wild and therefore dangerous. Cursing and talk is more subdued than elsewhere. If there is a big tournament at your course, you will have the cat bird seat.
– Disadvantage: If you are too close to the green your home could be hit by an errant shot. Greens are mowed very early in the morning, so be prepared for loud noises to interrupt your sleep.

No golf course view
– Advantage: Sometimes this is the best option. You don’t have the noise and the danger, but the course is right there.
– Disadvantage: Harder to sneak on and practice, or be in on the action.

Other Considerations
Location is by no means the only consideration to keep in mind when deciding to live in a golf course community.

You get to play: If you live in a golf course community you generally get unparalleled access to golf. Your rounds will be faster, involve no travel, and let you enjoy people you are your neighbors.
Noise: In addition to loud talking (and worse!) there is a lot of machinery that tends to operate in the early morning.
Pesticides: Chemicals are a fact of life on golf courses, even to some extent for those in the prestigious Audubon Sanctuary programs. You won’t be able to control what gets put in the atmosphere immediately adjacent to your home – and those could include herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides.
Beauty: Obviously so many people wouldn’t live near golf courses if there were no advantages. The lifestyle can provide you with a peaceful, beautiful neighbor if you choose well.
Distances and protections: There are recommended distances that homes and yards should be from an active golf course. Unfortunately many projects were either built a long time ago or choose to ignore them. An important due diligence element is to compare those distances to the home you are considering. Lexan windows and other barriers can also provide important protection against golf balls, which can cause death and serious injuries.
Water holes: These are usually very beautiful. But be prepared for bugs or even bigger critters. In the Deep South alligators and water moccasins are a serious hazard to pets and small children.
Economics: Golf is not as popular as it once was. Courses are expensive to maintain in good condition, so if your community does not attract enough golfers, the burden could fall to you. On the other hand, particularly in very upscale communities, a nice golf course is a big attraction and a key component of keeping property values up.
If you are not a golfer. We are always surprised how many people live in a golfing community who don’t play. Maybe they just like the general ambience. In that case you might be better off living in a community where golf is not included in the HOA fees; either the golfing members pay for it or the course is operated by a third party.
Do your research: Talk with your potential neighbors and try to get a feel for what happens in your new neighborhood. And of course, play the course a few times to understand the hazards you might face as a homeowner.

Bottom line
There are advantages and disadvantages to living on a golf course. For some people the experience is amazing, for others it turns out to be not so great. Before you buy, either rent or spend time in the community getting to know what it is really like living there.

See also:
Living the Golf Cart Lifestyle in Peachtree City
Top 10 Golf Towns for Retirement

Comments? Please share your thoughts about golf course living in the Comments section below.

Posted by Admin on July 22nd, 2018


  1. We moved these recent comments from members that discuss living on a golf course from a different Blog:

    I’m wondering if developers see golf courses as a way of creating pretty views and a focus for the community, even for those not planning on playing. I think I’ve heard that many golf courses aren’t owned/operated by the community that surrounds them. If true, that would protect homeowners from any increased cost of operating them. That was true at Sun City Lincoln in CA where I lived for a while. I’ve also heard that the younger generations aren’t much interested in golf. So in the upcoming years, golf courses may go the way of shopping malls and pedestrian only downtowns – ideas whose times came and then went.?Maybe the next survey should be addressed to retirees who have moved post retirement. I’ve moved twice and am planning a 3rd move. Each move was done after much thought and research but did not result in a place I wanted to stay forever. However, the most important thing I’ve learned is that what I want and need changes as I get older. I nod my head knowingly when I hear pre-retirement and early retirees proudly saying they’ve found their forever home. To me, it comes down to how hard you want to work to stay in a place that doesn’t meet your needs without a lot of help. by Laney Humphrey — July 21, 2018 |

    I agree with you about what we “think” we want and the actual experience. We also have moved twice in retirement with the possibility of a third move. First time was to a lovely home with some property but several neighbors were inconsiderate with their barking dogs, loud music and shooting guns. And we were on 7 acres! We are currently in a 55+ community and are not sure it’s for us. What drove us here was longing for peace and quiet, which we do have. I hate the “sameness” of the community and would prefer to live in a mixed ages neighborhood (after I check out the future neighbors and their “habits.”)
    We lived in a community with a golf course pre-retirement and one neighbor had to have shatterproof windows installed due to golf balls hitting the windows. Fortunately, we were on the opposite side of the street above the golf course. I would caution people who are considering a home on a golf course to keep this in mind.
    by Fionna — July 21, 2018 |

    We have two golf courses, one in the all age master built community and the other in our 55 community, which is only 2 years old. Developers get premium prices for golf course lots and that is one reason they continue to build them. In all our research and visits to Northern Florida, the Carolinas, Georgia, lived in east Tennessee, Arizona and Nevada 95% that had golf courses were all public courses or country clubs adding nothing to the HOA fee related to the community. Like it has been stated many times in the blogs, check your HOA cost and what they cover. A question about HOA fees and coverage might be useful.
    by Bruce — July 21, 2018 |

    I’m not a golfer so, as a property owner, I wouldn’t want to have to pay to operate and maintain a golf course. Again going back to my experience in Sun City Lincoln where the golf course was a separate entity, I was walking my dog on one of the paved walkways that went thru the golf course when I was told I couldn’t be there by a course steward. Never having seen any sign or notice of rules, I asked why. He said that I was in danger of being hit by a golf ball so when golfers were on the course, walkers had to get off. Hmmm. Seemed like a real conflict of interest to me! How was I supposed to know if there were golfers on other parts of the course? And here’s another thought, especially for those concerned about personal safety: residents and their HOA have no control over who is allowed on the course. Someone with evil intent could sign up to play and then have easy access to homes, especially those right on the course. Laney
    by Laney Humphrey — July 22, 2018

    by Jane at Topretirements — July 22, 2018

  2. This was sent in by Bruce:
    Laney, our courses are posted for golfers only… but access to the course can be obtained from many areas. If the course is public or a country club consider it private property, just like the homes around it. With the way the courses are designed around the community you may not be aware golfers are playing. A week or so ago several woman were on the paved golf paths pulling their children in wagons and our foresome waited till they were safely out of range, a wayward shot could really hurt a person. As I said our courses have postings but access apparently was made by these woman. I have scolded golfers for entering a yard of a house built along the golf course to retrieve their wayward golf ball, that also is private property and should be honored.
    by Bruce — July 22, 2018

    by Admin — July 22, 2018

  3. This is a very good article about life on a golf course. We have lived adjacent to a private golf course for 20 years in the DFW area. We chose a golf course lot for two reasons. We previously lived in the St. Louis area and our developments there did not allow fences. We really liked the open feeling that gave. In Texas, developments mostly all have wooden privacy fences which are ugly and deteriorate over time if not maintained. With a golf course lot, you are paying for the view so there won’t be any privacy fencing along the course. The lot will be either unfenced or have a wrought iron fence. The second reason we chose a golf course lot is that I always wanted to join a private golf course to avoid the hackers on public courses.

    Our lot had a giant cottonwood tree in the back corner that offered some protection from errant shots. However, it was struck by lightning and had to be taken down. Now, we are pretty exposed to those wayward shots, expecially on windy days. We have some smaller trees around the pool to provide some safety there but I do find balls in the pool sometimes. We also put solar screens on the windows facing the course. The sun in Texas is intense and many people use these solar screens to reduce the amount of sunlight coming through the windows. They have an additional benefit for golf course lots in that they protect the windows from ball strikes.

    One benefit of a golf course lot, if you are a golfer, is that you never have to buy golf balls. I have all the ProV1 balls in my yard that even I could lose. Yes, there are lots of curse words from the golfers out on the course and yes there are lots of noise from the equipment being used early in the morning to get the course ready for play that day. However, we do have a great view in back. We only see the fairway and green and a tree line on the opposite side of the fairway. We are not looking into someone’s backyard or surrounded by privacy fences. Golf course living works for us even with its disadvantages.

    by LS — July 23, 2018

  4. We live in a condo in Florida on a golf course. We do not golf. Our golf course is privately owned. However, condo owners share responsibility via a community association, for the security/gate/fence and the access road. In the past, the golf course was run as a private country club.
    Downside: Over the years, golf and country clubs became far less popular in Florida and many courses have closed. Our country club golf course declared bankruptcy in 2004 and finally sold itself to a private owner in 2015. When the club was having financial problems, the condo owners ended up providing all the support for the community association expenses. One wonders about living somewhere dependent on a sport that may become less attractive with time. Golf is not a cheap sport and during economic downturns people play less golf. They drop country club memberships. If the golf course goes bankrupt will developers move in and build on the old golf course. This has happened elsewhere.
    Upside: Living in a large greenspace. Our golf course dates back to the 1960s so that there are many large, old lovely trees. It sits on a bay with attractive mangroves, water hazards and water views. All of this attracts a wide variety of birds and other wildlife. It has been a refuge for birds that in the past have been endangered, such as roseate spoonbills. I think the birds keep down the number of pests.
    There are many other issues with golf course living. The worst is the noise from all the landscaping equipment. They are out there at five in the morning nearly every day.

    by Lynn — July 23, 2018

  5. In the area I live a few courses have gone bankrupt and the course has gone to seed. Suddenly the view from the golf course lots is rather ugly and the property values of these lots has fallen. Before investing in a golf course lot or house do your research and even then there are no guarantees.

    by Sal — July 25, 2018

  6. We currently live on a golf course in the Houston area. These past 4 years here, have been my first time. One of the advantages not mentioned is the privacy factor. A golf course is active during the day. We do most of our swimming and partying at night. You don’t have to worry about noisy neighbors, or being overly quiet yourself (except for you next door neighbors, and we are lucky on that point too). My wife is very noise sensitive, and this allows a very quiet sleep night.

    by Steve — July 25, 2018

  7. We have lived on the 12th green of the Orchard Golf Course in Sun City Lincoln Hills CA for 14 years and love it. I have had one golf ball come my way and I picked it up and walked over to the young man who hit it and returned it. He was shocked. I told him “I lose so many of these I wanted you to have yours back. I tell everyone I have a lovely backyard but that I’m annoyed by my gardeners who show up at 6am every morning to mow the yard. Then the rest of the day I have to put up with trespassers all day into the early hours of the evening coming through my backyard. I’m now a Widower and 14 years ago my wife picked this lot and then she passed away last year. I have decided to never leave.

    by Mike Schultz — July 27, 2018

  8. Mike Schultz, your post really touched me.

    by Tomi Huntley — July 28, 2018

  9. I like how you mentioned that one of the advantages of living in a golfing community is a peaceful environment that comes with it. My uncle is thinking of retiring soon, and he is thinking that it would be a good idea for him to take up golfing so that he can stay in shape. I’ll be sure to mention to him that he should consider moving into a club community.

    by Henry Killingsworth — March 3, 2020

  10. I lived on a golf course with a beautiful view of the 9th hole and fairway! Unfortunately golfers don’t respect your privacy and at 7AM a missed put turned into the foulest language you can imagine
    Frequently I found dents in my siding and on one occasion my rear patio door was shattered!
    Livi g on a golf course sounds great but living near one is a lot better

    by Ron — March 4, 2020

  11. I saw a few comments regarding golfing and staying in shape! One has nothing to do with the other! Most courses require you use a golf cart and that eliminates any walking
    Another downfall of golf is the pressure to bet on your performance resulting in most cases of you paying for some else’s golf outing! Bottom line golfing is not a sport ! It takes a huge part of your day! Is expensive!

    Find another hobby

    by Ron — March 4, 2020

  12. Permit me, as a dedicated golfer of 60 years, to respond. I am assuming you are the same Ron who posted about golfers abusing your peace, quiet and aluminum siding. Ignoring the axe you may be grinding and addressing your comments about the game, first off, 26 million Americans do not agree with you. Second, many golf courses permit walking; those who enjoy a good walk can certainly opt to have one. Third, I can say that after 60 years of playing perhaps 1,000 rounds, I have never been forced to make a wager on a golf course. You don’t sound like you are a golfer, given your misconceptions about golfers, so please pardon me if I appear to patronize you. The handicap system in golf is unique to sports (except for bowling and a few other minor sports) in that it can create fair competition between a good golfer and one of lesser ability. You have a handicap of 20, let’s say, and I have a handicap of 10, and I give you 10 extra strokes off your score and we compete fairly. I have done this hundreds of times over the years, about 95% of the time for fun, not money. As for the slam against exercise for golfers, it is true that riding a cart is not especially aerobic. This is why I and many golfers I know will park the cart a fair distance from the ball and walk, often briskly, from cart to ball and back. Golf is a great and sociable game, despite the occasional cursing from those who might take things a bit too seriously. They would be advised, for their health and sociability, to chill out a bit. Good advice also, perhaps, for those who didn’t do the proper research before buying a home beside a golf course fairway.

    by Larry — March 5, 2020

  13. Larry thanks for your response, as I agree with your comments. My wife and I both golf and so nice to get outdoors and enjoy the views and green space a course provides. Like you been playing for over 20 years amd have not bet money on my play. We have bet on a closed to the pin to see if I or my wife will cook dinner. When buying on a course agree middle of the fairways could be an issue for your home and some golfers do use profanity on wayward shots shame on them.

    by Bruce — March 5, 2020

  14. We live in Canada across the street from a golf course. Up here Canada has strict laws about the types of fertilizers and other chemicals can be used by citizens on their lawns. However that doesn’t apply to the golf course. Every spring they send a notice to all of the neighboring households telling us what chemicals they will be spraying. Promising to do it on a non windy day. Being that we are downwind of the GC I can only imagine what toxins we’ve taken in over the years we’ve been here. Not to mention countless golfballs flying into our yard. One hitting our car parked in the driveway.

    by Cindy — March 5, 2020

  15. Good Morning Sports Fans!! Yes; I am from Canada & yes; I am out on a Day Pass!! But was smart enough to live a couple of Blocks over from the Golf Course. So do not have much patience for those who live right on the Course & expect serenity 24/7. Ain’t going to happen!!
    Simple: Boy’s will be Boy’s, Golfer’s will be Golfer’s, Golf Courses will be Green & will comply with the Law.
    So enjoy; as some day you will be 6 feet Under!! & will not even hear the Bird’s Chirp!!

    by BillyBogey — March 6, 2020

  16. You made an interesting point when you explained that one of the advantages of living on a golf course is that the rounds you get to play are faster. My uncle is an avid golf player, but he hardly ever has the time to play because of how busy his job keeps him. I would imagine that he might be able to find some time to play golf if he lived in a home that was on a course.

    by Thomas Clarence — March 4, 2021

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