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Living on the links: the allure of Indiana's golf-course communities.

GOLF TO MANY HOOSIERS is synonymous with the good life, and in communities across Indiana, it's as close as the backyard.

"The value of living in a golf community is obviously greater for golfers," says Heath Rigsby, head golf professional for Evansville's Cambridge Golf Club at the Cambridge Village community. "They can come home from work and play nine holes. They want to live on a golf course for convenience."

Not just for golfers. But it's not just golfers who appreciate golf-course living.

"Our marketing studies indicated that 50 percent of people who live on golf courses don't golf," says Jim Hawk, owner of Hawk Development Corp. and White Hawk Country Club, located in Crown Point. "They just like the view and the openness." More than 45 percent of the residents of its associated community, White Hawk, have golf memberships.

Doc O'Neal, director of operations for The Bridgewater Club in Westfield, says that's about typical for a Midwest residential golf-course community. Membership at both The Bridgewater Club and Sagamore, located in Noblesville, is approximately 70 percent of community residents, but it's too early to tell if those figures will hold as the communities develop.

"I think the allure of golf communities is they are planned and designed to offer a wide range of recreational and social programs extending far beyond golf," says Kelle Mobley, director of operations for Lake Erie Land Co., the developer of the Sand Creek Country Club and community in Chesterton. "What we have noticed and responded to is the fact that there are sophisticated homebuyers who are looking to live where there are grand country club facilities and resort-like amenities."

"The clubhouse environment creates a sense of community," says Paul Switzer, general manager of White Hawk Country Club. "You become friends with your neighbors and golfing partners while participating in activities."

Appealing amenities. Golfers and non-golfers of all ages appreciate the beautiful views, well-manicured greens and tranquil water features--and the assurance that those views will remain the same.

For example, Hamilton County's Bridgewater Club offers everything from multimillion-dollar estates to $225,000 townhomes, including single-family home sites, garden homes, duplexes and golf villas. A typical single-family package (home and property) ranges from $650,000 to $850,000.

Amenities and attractions at this relatively new development include an 18-hole Pete Dye championship golf course, a nine-hole course, practice range, recreational trails and a new 70,000-square-foot clubhouse featuring fine and casual dining, indoor pool, fitness center and an outdoor pool and tennis complex. The community's 45-acre Village Marketplace will include shopping, dining and business offices.

Sagamore, meanwhile, boasts the only Jack Nicholas Signature course in central Indiana, ranked by Golf Digest among the top 10 new private golf courses in the U.S. Its 240 home sites range from $95,000 to the high $260, while homes range from $440,000 to more than $1 million. Housing options include a mix of condominiums, empty-nester estate and single-family homes.

Located an hour from downtown Chicago, Sand Creek features resort-like amenities--formal and informal dining, swimming and tennis complex, fitness center, 50,000-square-foot Italian-Renaissance-style clubhouse featuring a grand ballroom and library, and of course its 27-hole golf course recognized by Golf Digest as one of Indiana's 10 best.

The semi-private White Hawk Country Club course will be one of the few in the state to offer 36 holes of golf after an additional nine are completed this summer. It features one of the longest nine-hole courses in Indiana along with island greens. White Hawk offers single-family residences, townhomes, condominiums and attached villas with homes ranging from $400,000 to $1.3 million.

Among the many golf-community offerings to the south is Cambridge, with an 18-hole, Scottish-style links championship course designed by Tim Liddy. Amenities (currently under construction) include a pro shop, locker rooms and grill. Homes include a mix of estate, single-family and patio/empty-nester homes and condominiums. Single-family homes range from $135,000 to $400,000. Community amenities will include a pool, recreation center and basketball court.

And in Nashville, the Salt Creek Golf Retreat includes an 18-hole championship course, which is open to the public and borders Brown County State Park. The 36 two-bedroom, two-bath condominiums overlooking the course were built in 2002. Condominium amenities include a restaurant, pool and hot tub. Fully furnished condominiums cost approximately $170,000.

Tom Hodkin, general manager of Sagamore, has fielded many requests for condos. "There are many people who spend spring, summer and fall here, then leave for the winter. We had 17 reservations on the 20 units we are building before we turned a blade of grass."

Mobley says Sand Creek, known primarily for its estate homes, is meeting the demand for condominiums by adding Cantigny Court, a private cul-de-sac featuring eight, single-family French Country condominiums starting at $399,000.

"There also seems to be a trend for retirees who desire to live on a golf course in smaller-sized patio homes," says David Hammer, development manager for Elite Development Group LLC, the developer of Cambridge. "We are also seeing more of a demand for single-fatally homes in the $150,000 to $220,000 range by young professionals."

While the amenities and residential mix may vary from location to location and decade to decade, golf-course communities are here to stay.

"The concept of having a residential community around a golf course has been around for a long time," says O'Neal. "It's hard for a golf course to make it on its own and the residential side works well because of the golf course. It's a two-edged sword that works well for both."
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Title Annotation:INDIANA GOLF
Author:Held, Shari
Publication:Indiana Business Magazine
Geographic Code:1U3IN
Date:Apr 1, 2005
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