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By Larry Gavrich, Founder & Editor,
Home On The Course, LLC

Golf Course Communities

If I were a full-time real estate agent in a golf-oriented area of the Carolinas, I would hang out in a golf course parking lot and pass out my business cards to players heading for their cars after a round. Once played, the outstanding golf courses of North and South Carolina, of which there are many, sell themselves, and there’s no reason to think they won’t help sell nearby real estate to those ready for a vacation or permanent home on the course.

The toughest choice regarding a golf vacation in the Carolinas is where to play –- not because the pickings are slim but because it is hard to choose among Charleston, Myrtle Beach, Kiawah Island, Pawleys Island, Brunswick County and Wilmington on the coast; and the inland areas of Pinehurst, Asheville, Greenville, Columbia, Brevard, Boone, Charlotte, Greensboro and the Raleigh/Durham area. Choices abound, but the following are some special combinations of golf courses you can play and communities where you can stay forever.

Pinehurst, NC

Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw are the hottest team in golf design; where they build courses, golfing purists follow. Golfweek magazine called the four-year old Dormie Club, Coore & Crenshaw’s first foray in the Carolina sandhills, the second best in all of North Carolina; the top golf course in the state is actually Pinehurst #2, the iconic Donald Ross layout which Coore & Crenshaw reworked with their signature “natural” contours and bunkering. For now, Dormie is accessible to non-members, but that might not last long. Nearby gated and exclusive Forest Creek is the upscale golf community option in the area, particularly attractive to those looking for easy access to two Top 20 North Carolina courses by Tom Fazio. Homes for sale at Forest Creek start in the $500s.

Durham, NC

You don’t need an advanced degree to understand the quality of the Duke University golf course; carved from the pine forests a few miles from the famous campus, the layout is both refined if you appreciate golf course architecture, and surly should your game be a little off. The adjacent Washington Hotel is the perfect compliment, classic but with modern touches that make it both charming and functional.

The nearby modern community of Treyburn features handsome landscaping and homes that sell from the mid $200s. Best of all for the serious golfer, the Tom Fazio-designed golf course is part of the McConnell Group’s roster of eight terrific layouts in the Carolinas. Members of one have access to all others. Think of Treyburn as a potential home to come home to for the peripatetic golfer.

Pawleys Island, SC

Caledonia is the most popular golf course of the 100 on the Grand Strand of Myrtle Beach, and extra touches like chowder served by the first tee on cold days and a clubhouse porch that virtually hangs over the awesome 18th hole only add to its cachet. The golf course, by the late Mike Strantz, is a wonderland of twisting fairways and elaborately sized bunkers; and it is free of houses, although a few homes peek through the trees from adjacent neighborhoods on the other side of the fence.

Barely 10 minutes up the road is The Reserve, another McConnell course (see above), this one designed by Greg Norman. The Shark doesn’t bite too hard here, with a layout that is not imposing but can punish approach shots that land in greenside collection areas (at peak season, you can putt from 10 yards into the fairway beside the greens). The design is chiseled from the scrub pines and live oaks that characterize the marshland in this part of the South. Homes in the modern Reserve, whose residents have access to a private beach less than five minutes away, start around $400,000.

Seabrook Island, SC

Some golfers save up their money and their courage for a go at the site of the 1991 Ryder Cup where European Bernhard Langer famously failed to convert a five-foot putt and yielded The Cup to the American side. You won’t fail to be impressed by Pete Dye’s moonscape of a layout within sight of the Atlantic Ocean on most holes. Homes on this end of Kiawah range from the low millions to the higher millions, but you will find an ocean, a beach and some sharply priced homes mere miles away on fellow barrier island Seabrook, with two fine golf courses of its own. Condominiums start at just $100,000, with single-family homes from the low $300s.

Leland, NC

Cape Fear, just 10 minutes from Wilmington, is one of the best golf courses opened in the last decade on the east coast –- and it is both open to the public and available to members for one annual fee. The course was designed by native son Tim Cate, and his layout betrays the architect’s love of the nearby beaches, such is the profusion of sand throughout. This is fun golf, and the best part is you don’t have to stray too far to find a great place to live. The surrounding community of Brunswick Forest is one of the most successful on the east coast over the last decade, mostly because the properties are fairly priced, the amenities are smartly designed and the developers have deep pockets, a fact not lost on the many residents who purchased homes during the recession and made BF the fastest growing golf community on the coast. Single-family homes begin in the mid $200s.