Living at the links of golf and the good life. (Golf & Home Guide).
with visitors to Utah than skiing. According to the Utah Travel Council, five to seven percent of Utah's visitors golf during their visits, making it the third most popular activity after hiking/biking (first) and hunting/fishing (second). The Utah Golf Association directory lists 107 clubs, stretching through Utah from Tremonton to Hurricane. During the last decade, the rustic ski cabin has evolved to luxury mountain homes with ski-in, ski-out access. Have golf developments in Utah made similar changes?
Surprisingly, neither the number of golfers nor that of holes played nationally is growing, says Toni Guest of the Utah Golf Association. But, according to Jon Kemp, Research Coordinator at the Utah Travel Council, golf's popularity in Utah is on a two-to three-year upswing. "Our research shows the upsurge is primarily in the resort communities in Summit, Wasatch and Washington counties, where golfing is one of many recreational activities in upscale resorts," Kemp adds.
David Terry of the St. George Golf Division, which operates four municipal courses in Washington County, notes, "The growth of the St. George area has been paralleled by the growth in golf. Golf is very important to us. Economists estimate that with multipliers, golf brings $200 million into the area." The expanding number of courses in the St. George area is good news to budget-conscious golfers, because the competitive environment means green fees remain relatively stable despite increased operating costs. At the same time, it is difficult to open new stand-alone clubs. Terry notes that the area's new courses have been incorporated into residential communities where the costs of the dub are supported by the residential development.
One of these facilities is Sun River in St. George, a public course in a community of homes that marketing director Mike Green explains are primarily intended for retirees. Sun River is designed to be more than just a golf community, he adds, pointing out that less than 50 percent of the residents golf. "The course is secondary to the community," he says. "The heart of the development is a community center with a fitness center, tennis courts, a swimming pool and a recreation program that includes aerobics, basketball, bingo and organized outings." In Sun River, both golfers and nongolfers own carts for the convenience of getting around (carts are allowed on roads there), and the homes have garage storage areas for golf carts. Green notes a demand for a comfortable lifestyle that in St. George translates into deluxe homes, upgrades and casitas (bedrooms with a separate entrance for guest quarters or home offices).
Down the road, Entrada at Snow Canyon has been nationally recognized by the web site leadinggolfcommunities.com for the quality of the course and its environmentally sensitive design. Developer Paul Klein of MPK Holdings says that Entrada is the first gated community in the St. George area and addresses the needs of pre-retirees, the forty-somethings who are looking for a second home and planning for retirement. "The Entrada developers found a demand for a recreational lifestyle, the security of a gated and guarded community and continued strong real estate values because of the controls of an overall master plan and strict subdivision standards and deed restrictions," Klein reports. In describing these deed restrictions, he notes that Entrada governs the colors of home exteriors (earth tones are required) and calls for planting high desert native plants, among other development standards.
While the course has been recognized as one of the top 50 in the U.S., Klein says that only 60 percent of the residents golf, and of that percentage, only half are what he calls serious golfers. He echoes what others say about the appeal of living in a community and the importance of the social club membership to enjoy the fitness facilities, tennis courts, pool, restaurant and bar. "The recreational opportunities in the area also appeal to most buyers--hiking and mountain biking, national park excursions, skiing at nearby Brian Head, and relaxing at the area's spas," adds Klein. The homes in Entrada emphasize an outdoor lifestyle of courtyards, fountains and outdoor fireplaces, plus casita guest quarters. Interior designer Chris Evans says most want interiors with an informal elegance, in keeping with the emphasis on outdoor living.
In the northern half of the state, veteran Park City broker Randy Spagnoletti, of Prudential Utah, says the buyers at the upscale gated golf communities of Glenwild and Promontory are mainstream buyers seeking a mountain lifestyle. "Lots range from a quarter to three-quarters of a million dollars, and buyers are interested in views and open space. While being on the golf course means a guaranteed view corridor, not all want the loss of privacy of being right on the course," says Spagnoletti. He notes that most, but not all, buyers seek part-time homes and the appeal is combining golfing and skiing for year-round recreation.
Glenwild's Dave Johnson sums up the interest in Glenwild: "People want a safe investment and quality lifestyle." Glenwild has a private Tom Fazio-designed course that is open exclusively to its 195 residences. A full-time concierge arranges for skiing and transportation to Park City's resorts. As a planned community, Glenwild is similar to nearby Promontory in its master plan, gates, security, strict development standards and amenities, but Promontory is scheduled to be a much-larger development.
Promontory, in fact, is the largest of the new, gated golf communities. It comprises 10 square miles with 1,500 to 1,600 homes clustered to preserve open space. The Pete Dye Canyon course is operating, and work has begun on the Jack Nicklaus-designed valley course. Rich Sonntag, an executive with the Phoenix-based developer, says, "Promontory is intended as a multi-generational recreational community tailored to the needs of the Boomers. The results of a number of interviews and focus groups show that the Boomers don't want to be isolated in their part-time residences but want friends, parents, children and grandchildren to join them." Consequently, Promontory features typical country club sports, but beyond that, the master plan calls for recreation trails for mountain biking and cross-country skiing, a fishing lake, an outfitters sports center and an interesting kids clubhouse with a stream, caves and a water slide. Promontory has its own lodge at Deer Valley and runs a shuffle between all three of Park Cit y's winter resorts. Options for buyers include lots (ranging from one-and-a-quarter to 10 acres), spec homes, or the 3,000- to 4,000-square-foot Club Cabins. Sonntag says he is seeing purchases intended to be kept in the family as a lasting legacy and says this long-term view drives some of the criteria for selecting properties and building homes.
Contrary to the golf communities of the past that targeted just senior citizens and centered only around golf, today's second-home buyers are economically established people of all ages who golf but also want a full range of recreation opportunities and a community lifestyle. A new arrival to Park Meadows from the East Coast, interior designer Mercedes Hess says of her new home, "We've heard it's a Park City cliche, but my husband and I came for winters and skiing, but we're staying for the summers."
Ann Getz Zimmerman is a planner and freelance writer living in Heber City.