Golf has long symbolized the good life, reserved for those who've earned their success, and are now free to retire to an active leisure pastime. But there are signs that interest in golf is changing, especially among younger Americans, which is forcing developers to rethink how they're going to design and market traditional “golf resort communities.”
The number of people under 30 playing golf has declined more than a third over the last decade and the sport has lost over 700 venues and facilities in that time, according to industry reports. Nike, Tiger Woods' favorite club maker, dropped its line of golf equipment entirely in 2016. The number of unused golf sites across the country has climbed in the past decade, according to Bloomberg.
Redefining Active Adult Communities
The sport’s ebbing popularity weighs heavily on builders and developers making plans for future active adult communities. Some designers are excluding golf entirely. In Palm Springs, where golf is nearly a religion, a failed course was turned into an orchard of olive trees by Freehold Communities. In Las Vegas, work was stopped on a course for developer Steve Wynn and plans for the land changed to a man made lagoon.
Other developers are modifying plans for what will still be golf communities, but with more appeal for diverse tastes. In addition to golf, younger retirees are expressing desires for a variety of amenities and activities—cooking demonstration kitchens, scenic walking and biking trails, fitness workouts involving less muscle building and more yoga and stretching. The old country club style is out, and a more refined and thoughtful approach to active leisure is in.
In Southern California, there are several active adult communities that do not offer golf as an amenity for residents. All offer amenities and recreation other than golf, and all give residents a break with comparatively more affordable homeowner fees, because there are no community golf facilities to subsidize.
To sample these alternatives, we've selected one community from each of six regions of the Southland.
Belcaro - Valencia
In Los Angeles County, Belcaro in Valencia is a 47-acre active adult development with 275 single-family and attached homes. Belcaro offers resort-like amenities, a private clubhouse with multiple facilities, and luxurious homes on quiet streets, some along cul-de-sacs, with Spanish-revival and Prairie-style architecture.
The clubhouse at Belcaro, Grove House, offers a health and wellness center, a coffee and juice bar, spa massage, and performing arts studio, along with a banquet room, card and game rooms. Outdoors, a 25-meter pool, heated Jacuzzi, and outdoor covered kitchen area with ceiling fans and a fireplace lounge.
Also at Belcaro, a garden club for growing herbs, vegetables, fruits, and flowers. And there's an on-site activities director who plans field trips, seminars, and lectures.
Huntington Landmark - Huntington Beach
In Orange County, Huntington Landmark has Southern California beach culture right around the corner.
Huntington Landmark is less than two miles from the shorebreak at Huntington Beach, also known as "Surf City USA," and host to the International Surfing Museum. Also nearby is the coastal bike trail, the Huntington Beach pier and the downtown shopping district.
Built in 1983, Huntington Landmark has over 1,200 condos. It offers resort-style living with a clubhouse, a gym, pools, spas, putting green and outdoor recreation. The community is also filled with trees, landscaping, large grassy areas and sidewalks throughout for exercise walks and strolls with pets.
Camino Hills - Carlsbad
In San Diego County, Camino Hills also has a beach influence, Camino Hills is a gated 55+ community located in the charming beach city of Carlsbad and avoids the big-city congestion of central San Diego.
The community has 145 single-family homes and comfortable amenities, allowing residents to enjoy a carefree lifestyle. The central clubhouse has a fully equipped fitness room, catering kitchen, ballroom, and a game room.
Outdoors, residents can enjoy coastal California’s perfect weather with a pool and spa, spacious patio, tennis court, and trails for walking and biking. There is also on-site boat and R.V. parking.
Oaknoll Villas - Thousand Oaks
In Ventura County, Oaknoll Villas hosts 419 condo homes and has a clubhouse that is the focal point for all social and physical activities. There's an exercise room and aerobics room for workouts, a meeting room for gatherings, games in the card room, a well-stocked library, and a billiards table.
The amenities continue outdoors with a pool, spa, and patio. A series of walking and biking trails through the community's greenbelts invite an evening walk, shuffleboard on two courts, or a meal from the barbecue.
The community is within walking distance from The Oaks shopping mall, a Thousand Oaks public park, and when you want to golf, Los Robles Golf Course.
Four Seasons at Beaumont
Four Seasons at Beaumont will become one of the larger communities in Southern California. A diverse mix of single-family and attached duplex homes are available in over 30 different floor plans.
Four Seasons at Beaumont was built for the active lifestyle, outdoor enthusiasts like its proximity to nearby mountains and national forests. Inside the community eight miles of walking and hiking trails meander through the neighborhoods and across 500 acres of native vegetation and natural water features.
Del Webb Rancho Mirage
In the Palm Springs area, Del Webb Rancho Mirage is an active adult community being developed in Rancho Mirage by award-winning builder Del Webb. Upon completion, some 1,000 single-family homes will surround resort-style amenities at a planned community center with indoor activities and outdoor recreational facilities.
A spacious clubhouse will feature a state-of-the-art fitness center. Meeting rooms will be available for clubs as well as gathering spaces for larger events and holiday parties. The clubhouse will also be home to an aerobics and dance studio, billiards room, and a library.
Outdoors, active adults will enjoy a resort-style swimming pool with patio. Tennis and pickleball courts will also be located next to the clubhouse for recreation.