South Florida’s residential golf club communities have many factors that make them successful: the Chamber of Commerce weather which allows residents to play the sport virtually every day, the Hall of Fame architects who live in the community and are keen to work locally. Add an abundance of land and resources that can be crafted in their own city.
Add another unsuspected benefit: a bubble during the coronavirus pandemic.
While COVID-19 has changed the way we live, it has undoubtedly had an effect on an industry that has struggled for the past decade.
More golf:PGA National’s New Nine-Hole Par 3 Course Offers ‘Fun & Friendly Golf’ For Everyone
More golf:Golf Mecca: Palm Beach County is the perfect place to live for professional golfers. Here’s why.
More golf:D’Angelo: Injured veterans find ‘peace and serenity’ on PGA National golf course
The numbers speak for themselves.
âWe had our best May in private home and subscription sales, and June will be even better,â said John Jorritsma, director of sales and marketing at Club at Ibis in West Palm Beach. “We had an average of one sale every two days last year.”
It’s not just so at the Club at Ibis, a community of 1,840 homes off Northlake Boulevard. This is so in virtually every residential golf club community in South Florida, large or small, on the waterfront or inland.
âThe South Florida real estate market has been incredibly hot, probably as hot as it has ever been,â said Matt Lambert, general manager of the Mirasol Country Club in Palm Beach Gardens. “As difficult as COVID has been to deal with, the silver lining for residential country club communities is that it’s been great for business.”
As Southern Floridians have noticed with all of the different license plates, most new buyers are not local. They are usually from the North East, some so eager to relocate that they bought houses without even visiting them.
The pandemic has forced many companies to close their offices and give their employees the ability to work remotely. If you had to live anywhere, where would you choose, South Florida or South New Jersey?
âI always hear the same story, slightly different version: ‘I was stuck working at home last winter, locked inside and I won’t do it again,â said Ann Jara, director of the real estate at the Quail Ridge Club in Boynton Beach who, like most realtors in large communities, struggled to maintain inventory.
âSome are retired, some are not, some from the northeast. They have to be somewhere they can be outside. Everyone wants to be here.
Golf is one of the few sports that can be played safely during a pandemic. The very open nature of the sport provides social distancing, and clubs have taken extra precautions, such as allowing members to get into their own carts, space out tee times, and leave the pin.
Golf has become more popular. The National Golf Foundation reported that rounds played last August in the United States were up 20.6% from 2019. That’s 10 million more rounds, the largest year-on-year increase over the year. another in 20 years.
Things were even rosier in Florida, according to the report, where the Sunshine State saw a 37% increase. Only Texas (39%) recorded a larger jump.
But it’s not just golf. People want security. People want space. People want to be around other people who share the same concerns.
âWe have added many other outdoor equipment such as TopTracer to the range, an outdoor gym and more outdoor seating in our restaurants,â Jorritsma said. âWe have a food truck that went to our communities to deliver ice cream and margaritas, we added a new outdoor kitchen with a pizza oven near the driving range and we made an average of 300 take-out meals a day during COVID. â
Golf Life Navigators, a Naples-based company that helps homebuyers find golf clubs, recently released a survey that showed interest in residential golf communities is growing. GLN said there had been a 9 percent increase, to 58 percent, in buying a home within the gates of a golf community, and that the buyers’ market combining the club and house search reached 78 percent.
“COVID may have affected consumers’ outlook on where they want to reside, most likely due to the safety and security of the club and the fact that it is in a controlled environment,” said Jason Becker of GLN.
Not only have local residential golf club communities seen a spike in interest, but the demographics have shifted in a better direction: younger buyers. This speaks well of the future.
âWhen I moved here in 2003, Florida was all about seniors and retirees,â said Lambert, general manager of Mirasol since 2003. âNow you see a lot of young families moving here. They want to be in a place where their children can be outside 12 months of the year.
Although the effects of COVID-19 have waned due to vaccinations and greater awareness, most don’t see the community residential golf club market cooling off any time soon. Demand remains strong and the number of available housing is limited.
âThere are a lot of advantages to living in Florida,â said Jorritsma of Ibis. âThe weather, no state income tax and the ease of traveling with several airport options. It will never change.