This trend in real estate development is a breath of fresh air:
Around the country, planned developments are adapting and reinventing in order to appeal to a wider range of buyers.
MacDonald Highlands is a master-planned community of less than 1,000 units in Henderson, Nev., a wealthy suburb of Las Vegas within squinting distance of the Strip. For years, its main selling point was DragonRidge Country Club, a private 18-hole golf course sculpted out of the desert foothills, with emerald fairways that wind past multi-million-dollar homes.
But lately, the property’s owner, Rich MacDonald, has had more on his mind than golf.
Mr. MacDonald opened the club in 2001, sold it in 2014 and bought it back in 2016. When he did, he said: “I wanted to make sure we have the equivalent of a cruise director. Someone who does fun things, interesting events. We’ve had to adapt quite a bit because the social aspect seems to be the main focus for new residents.”
At existing golf communities around the country, a similar story of adaptation and reinvention is playing out.
WindRiver, once a golf-centered planned community near Knoxville, Tenn., has been transformed for active lifestyles with trails, a gym, a pool, tennis and pickleball courts, a marina and a lakefront park.
At Hilton Head Plantation, a gated golf community on Hilton Head Island in South Carolina, an old recreation center is being remade into a family pool complex with a splash pad for children. And at Wickenburg Ranch in Wickenberg, Ariz., the 18-hole “Big Wick” golf course has been augmented with a second course, which includes a bar, an outdoor lounge area and a relaxed vibe.
The golf course real estate industry took a hammering in the years after the Great Recession, as an oversupply of courses failed to meet demand from buyers. A decade later, the situation is still shaking out. Course closures have averaged around 200 a year in recent years, according to the National Golf Foundation, a market research provider.
Golf is not dead. But these days, residents of golf course communities want amenities that go beyond the game, and developers, land planners and owner-operators have been tasked with finding ways to modernize what had become, for many, an outdated model…
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