New communities are more multifaceted, and older ones are renovating.
These changes are broadening the demographic of the residents, who used to be mostly retirees. You see nongolfers and a lot more younger people who aren’t just buying second homes but moving in full time with their families. They want to raise their children there.
Are golf communities making a shift to be more sustainable?
Sustainability matters today more than it did ever before. Golf courses now have features that promote water conservation and design elements that touch the natural land as little as possible. Some communities even create new ecosystems. In Lakewood National Golf Club, in Sarasota, Fla., for example, I designed two golf courses. My team and I started with a cleared and barren flat landscape and transformed it into a setting with lakes and rolling topography. We added tons of vegetation such as pines, oaks, red maples, magnolias and native palms. Today, the property is a wildlife-rich ecosystem with a variety of birds, fish, alligators, and the occasional wild boar and deer.
Some golf homeowners want a property right next to the course while others prefer homes that are farther away. In your opinion, what are the drawbacks and benefits of each?
Being near a course means you get great views and a backyard that is well maintained with natural landscape. The people watching is also a plus. But you might get the occasional golf ball in your yard from other players. There’s a misperception that you lack privacy if your home is too close to a course, but in a well-planned community that shouldn’t be an issue because there is a vast amount of open space.
If your house is further away from a course, you might be more secluded, but, especially in large communities, the course won’t be as accessible.
One setting isn’t more prestigious than the other. It boils down to personal preference.
In your opinion, what are the next emerging golf destinations?
Asia for sure. India, for example, has a long history with the game, but the golf courses there are still developing all over the country. It’s on my wish list to work on a course there.