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Topretirement’s Dream Team – Top 10 Golf Towns

Category: Best Retirement Towns and States

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 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

Posted by Admin on July 8th, 2008


  1. […] are built around golf courses. Here is a link to an article we wrote a while back on some of the “Top 10 Golf Towns” from a retirement perspective. The only problem with that being, golf is so popular and ubiquitous […]

    by » Where to Go for the Best Retirement Lifestyles Topretirements — June 8, 2010

  2. […] Best Places to Retire by Lifestyle: Top 10 Golf Towns […]

    by » Best Places for Retirement by Lifestyle Topretirements — September 27, 2011

  3. Don’t forget Williamsburg, VA! They golf year-round here and there are some wonderful and challenging courses. The Arthur Hills Golf Course at Colonial Heritage is one of the best!

    by Shirley Kappa — September 30, 2011

  4. The Villages gets my vote! Love The Villages!

    by Mandie — October 15, 2011

  5. Mandie, any reasons you like The Villages … I mean, other than that you make your living working there? Please, also, what negatives do you see there … there must be some. 😉

    by Mad Monk — October 16, 2011

  6. Hi Mad Monk,

    I visited The Villages to do research for my book. Here are some of the positives: a price point for virtually everyone – you get as much/little of a residence as you need/want; activities galore – single women have told me the sole reason they moved to The Villages was because of the vibrant singles’ groups; sunshine; ability to drive your golf cart within the community; cost of living for Sumter County for Jan. 2011 is 85.2, compared to an average of 100 for the United States. The Villages was the #1 best-selling master-planned community in 2010, according to RCLCO.

    Jan Cullinane, author, The New Retirement: The Ultimate Guide to the Rest of Your Life (Rodale)…I’m not a realtor, nor do I receive any kind of benefit from The Villages!

    by Jan Cullinane — October 17, 2011

  7. Jan, I was merely firing a (friendly) arrow at Mandie, but also I would like people to not just say XXXX Resort is the best thing since sex (or whatever!). As always, I (and I’m sure others) appreciate your input. We did look at The Villages (and keep it as a posibility). Do you know if one lives in one of the older poorer” (the original Village was a manufatured home community) sections whether you can use any of the resources (pools. clubhouses, etc.), or is one limited to the ones in your “Village”? Also, for us, the golf courses are actually a negative, and it SEEMS that the carts monopolize the “trails” (that walkers, hikers, cyclists, etc. would be able to use them, even if due to fear of the speedsters in the carts). I admit that we have NOT yet visited the site, something I recommend that anyone do before final decision anywhere. We also understand that the community at The Villages is, well, “conservative.” We get along with any group, but until we visited and considered more, we could never be sure. Such a large community has MANY pluses (LOTS of activities) and minuses (could become overwhelming – traffic congestion being just one). Wow, this whole retiremnt thing is soooo full of things to consider. We appreciate you, John, and all who spend time to share. We may actually keep our current home in the country and travel for a while (as cheaply as possible). We love to bike (cycle), so visiting the rails-to-trails around the country is something we can enjoy (for at least a few more years). Best wishes.

    by Mad Monk — October 18, 2011

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