Beyond big-name designers: Golf communities take off-course amenities to the next level

By Brandon Tucker,
Senior Writer

It seems like such a simple formula: Center a housing development around a signature golf course; watch the buyers come in and property values go up. It's worked to a tee over the past few decades, but now some communities are discovering it's not enough.

As the number of golf communities in America soars to more than 3,400 (up from about 2,700 three years ago), developers are looking for every possible way to separate themselves from the pack - and going far beyond a simple swimming pool.

Mountain Air, Burnsville, N.C.: Perched nearly 5,000 feet above sea level in the Blue Ridge Mountains, this community a half-hour from Asheville takes advantage of its location by offering a 2,875-foot runway for private aircraft, the highest of its kind east of Denver. Sixty of the community's residents are licensed fliers.

"There is a bit of irony here that I think the residents enjoy," says Jim Briggs, a Mountain Air community consultant. "Up on the mountain you feel like you are in the middle of nowhere, but with all our amenities and connections to the outside world, you aren't isolated from the real world."

When the residents aren't up in the air, they're liable to be playing the Mountain Air Country Club, which features more than 1,300 feet of elevation change (up to 250 on certain holes) and 100-miles views. Home sites range from $250,000 to upwards of $1 million.

Mirabel, North Scottsdale, Ariz.: Mirabel gives residents a world-class Tom Fazio course, complete with a chef grilling up lunch on the eighth tee box. It also offers its popular Outdoor Pursuits program, which features everything from hot-air balloon rides to guided hikes and fly fishing. Home sites run from $440,000 to $1.5 million.

Las Campanas, Santa Fe, N.M.: Las Campanas takes residents from the golf course to the classroom with its Las Campanas University, offering a variety of (non-accredited) courses in subjects ranging from art to culture to cooking. The school's motto: "An edifying adventure." Classes are $42.50 a day. Lots start at $275,000.

Yellowstone Club, Big Sky, Mont.: When golf season ends residents trade their clubs for skis and leave the Tom Weiskopf-designed course for the community's 2,200-acre private mountain. Most homes are right on the trail, providing instant access to the slopes. Lots start $1.1 million and run up to $8 million.

Ford's Colony, Williamsburg, Va.- Ford's Colony satisfies residents not only on the course but in the kitchen: It's the only country-club restaurant to earn the AAA Five Diamond Award - and has won it eight times, no less. The world-class menu is complemented with a 1,600-strong wine list. The golfing options are varied too - 54 holes Dan Maples-designed holes. Lots range from $175,000 to $1.5 million.

September 25, 2006

Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management. The information in this story was accurate at the time of publication. All contact information, directions and prices should be confirmed directly with the golf course or resort before making reservations and/or travel plans.

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