The idea of life on a golf course is a dream to many prospective homebuyers. Through each window, a golf course can create lush picture-perfect views of vast, meticulously maintained lawns. In fact, in many neighborhoods and towns, golf course homes offer the best vistas available. Another benefit is that houses are often sited so that neighbors are not directly visible, and all views face the fairway. Best of all, for avid golfers, owning a house at a golf course means that their next round of play is right outside.
In home buying, what seems ideal seldom is. It’s important to consider the pros and cons of living next to a golf course, especially if you’ve never lived on a course. Here are the top five things to keep in mind when hunting for your golf course home:
1. Courses are maintained, early and often. Lawns must be cut and tended to in the morning, before rounds are played. That means that groundskeepers are out on the course before sunrise. In places with a year-round golf season, putting greens are usually maintained every day. If a master bedroom window faces a green, headlights from golf carts and riding mowers will blaze through. The engine noises will be heard as well.
The fix: If you’re a sound sleeper, no worries. If you’re a light sleeper, make sure that your home is located on a fairway and relatively distant from greens and tee boxes that require more maintenance. Select a property that positions your master bedroom away from the course or look for window treatments such as blackout curtains. You may even want to consider investing in a white noise machine.
2. Pay attention to location of cart paths when house hunting. Many courses built in residential developments are lined on both sides by houses. The path for golf carts will run along one side of the fairway from tee box to green. If a cart path is directly behind a home, golf carts will be zipping by all day. This can be more than a little disruptive to the otherwise serene setting a golf course affords.
The fix: Proximity to a cart path does affect housing lot desirability and this should be reflected in the price of a home. Sometimes a house in one of these “high-traffic areas” will be a great deal. Good landscaping can block out some disturbance, but will also block views from the ground level. Smart positioning of outdoor features like decks, pools, hot tubs and other water features is a must to minimize the disruption of carts zooming by.
3. Tee boxes and greens are regular stopping points. Every golfer will park his or her cart at every tee box and putting green during a round of play. If a house is located near these course elements, players will be stopping near your home throughout the day. Their chatting and laughter will be audible, and their loud golf pants will be visible. If a house is on a cart path near a tee box or green, carts will park on the path regularly.
The fix: Where there’s a golf course, there are golfers. This will always be true. So when viewing a house at a golf course, always sit out back or facing the course and wait for a foursome to play through. Take note of where they park their carts and how much noise they make while playing. If you’re not comfortable with the noise and motion of the golfers, then the house is not for you.
4. Understand all of the deed restrictions. One of the potential cons of living next to a golf course is that homes are almost always in deed-restricted communities where certain aspects of home maintenance and modification are regulated by a homeowners’ association (HOA). In order to maintain a certain look and feel of the course, house exterior paint colors usually need to be selected from a limited palette. You probably can’t put a swing set in your backyard, facing the course. Landscaping requirements may mandate that a certain density of trees be planted on your property and which species are acceptable – this may seem un-American, but it is rather common. In golf course communities, homeowners tend to have visible pride of ownership and take these rules very seriously. Golfers who can see your house from the course may complain to the community or HOA if they notice that you’re behind on maintenance.
The fix: If you like the feel of a neighborhood, aspects of the deed restrictions probably appeal to you. It means that many qualities of the neighborhood will be retained for years. Always request the HOA documents and read through them when contemplating the purchase of a golf course house that is part of a deed-restricted community. These documents are often available online. If the rules don’t work for you, look elsewhere.
5. Golf course land is often off-limits for non-golf activities. Golf courses are great for playing golf, but can’t be used for much else. Recreational walking or biking on cart paths is forbidden at almost all courses. You can’t walk your dog along a fairway.
The fix: If you like to walk or bike, make sure that a golf course community also serves these needs as well. Even if you live on a golf course, you won’t play every day, and your golf course home should meet the needs of a well-balanced life.
There’s no question that having a house at golf course provides a great quality of life for many people. If you think a golf course home might be right for you, just remember to weigh the pros and cons and carefully research specific properties before taking the leap into homeownership. Then you can enjoy all the perks of living next to golf course views.