Exceptional Courses and Spectacular Scenery Bring Golfers to Central Virginia

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Exceptional Courses and Spectacular Scenery Bring Golfers to Central Virginia

By Celeste M. Smucker –

Golfers who love the mountains find plenty of ways to enjoy them along with their favorite sport when they live in our area. Not only can they select from a large number of exceptional courses with terrific views, but thanks to our mild climate, they can continue to play throughout the year, even into the winter months.

They can also choose to live in one of many different golf communities such as Wintergreen in Nelson County or Old Trail in Crozet. Other locations as diverse as Glenmore, Keswick Estate, Spring Creek and Lake Monticello are also in demand and each community’s course has something a little different to offer in the way of  attributes and challenges with variations in scenery, topography and features such as forests and wetlands.

Studies show golf communities can bring higher home values, and that these favorable prices extend to homes in adjacent areas as well. In addition, there may be  substantial additional premiums attached to lots located right on the golf course. 

Even if you are not a golfer, you can still enjoy the  expansive green spaces along with other  amenities such as tennis courts, pools, walking trails and fitness centers often associated with living in a golf community.

Lots of Amenities
Most golfers love being able to play close to home, and having a course within the community is a real plus. However, in all of these neighborhoods, the clubhouses also serve as gathering places for community members whether or not they play golf.

Tom Pace, with Long & Foster Real Estate,  lives and works in the  gated community of  Glenmore in Keswick.  Most residents, regardless of their age, join the neighborhood’s family friendly Country Club, Pace said, which includes the 18-hole championship golf course.

The Club is also the focus of an active social life offering opportunities for members from children to adults to meet their neighbors and make new friends, Pace noted. 

The gated community of Keswick Estate is a place where “people obsessed with golf can play daily,” said Murdoch Matheson with Frank Hardy Sotheby’s International Realty.

A big plus for this community is the resort hotel, currently being renovated to double its size. When complete the complex “will be spectacular,” Matheson observed and attract lots more people who want to enjoy the hotel, restaurants and other amenities, some of whom will decide to stay long term purchasing one of the luxury homes or lots.

He described the Keswick Estate Pete Dye golf course—called Full Cry—as “unique and different,”  designed to be challenging for all levels of players. Earlier in 2018 Golfweek ranked it #38 out of 100 top resort courses. The community offers many other amenities as well such as hike, bike and walking trails, a spa, pools, tennis courts and a fitness center to name just a few.

Another popular golf community is Spring Creek at Zion Crossroads. The course there is a big asset and has received numerous accolades.  Most recently Golf Digest rated it #66 on its list of America’s greatest public courses and #3 in Virginia, explained David Boisvert, Sales Manager for Atlantic Builders.

Course General Manager Corky Bishop emphasized the importance of involving the Spring Creek community in Club events and is proud of  the active program of activities for both kids and adults. 

The annual fishing day for kids is popular as are family movie nights and the cornhole tournament coming up on June 22. Another way Spring Creek residents relax after a hard week is Party on the Patio at the Clubhouse that features live music every Friday night during the summer.

Wintergreen boasts two communities and two golf courses.  The Devils Knob private 18-hole course has spectacular views and is open to property owners and their guests.  It is especially popular during the heat of the summer when temperatures can be as much as 15 degrees cooler than in the valley.

Wintergreen is also proud of its award-winning public course at Stoney Creek, which is 3,300 feet lower than Devil’s Knob.  Stoney Creek is open year round, which makes Wintergreen one of the few places where, on a bright winter day, you can ski in the morning and tee off in the afternoon. 

The two Wintergreen courses offer different challenges said Steve Marianella with Wintergreen Mountain and Valley Properties in Nelson County.  The course at Devil’s Knob is shorter and tighter requiring greater accuracy than the one in the valley.  Each of the courses has its own following, he added.

Marianella emphasized the social aspect of golf that draws people to the game and to the Wintergreen community.  There are a large number of golf groups with people at all levels of play, some more serious than others, he explained.  After a game they gather to enjoy the scenery along with a beer or a glass of wine.

Old Trail in Crozet, where a walkable lifestyle attracts golfers and their families, offers another popular public course.

Kandi Comer, named one of the Best Teachers in the State of Virginia by Golf Digest, has her Golf Academy at Old Trail and serves lots of kids who love activities like her summer golf camp, social events with hamburgers and hot dogs and movie nights during the winter.

Of course she offers adult instruction and activities as well and believes a big reason golfers like Old Trail is the closeness of the course, a feature that is especially attractive to retirees.

Michael Guthrie, CEO and Principal Broker of Roy Wheeler Realty Co., described Comer’s golf school as “a huge home run,” especially for youth observing that her presence at Old Trail is an added incentive for  people who may eventually decide to buy a home and stay permanently.

Best known for its luxury waterfront lifestyle, Lake Monticello in Fluvanna County is also a terrific place to play golf. Several years ago the course sustained damage due to extreme heat but has since been renovated.

Guthrie expects the updated course to  attract buyers who look forward to playing golf at a top-rated course in a gated, waterfront community that is close-in to Charlottesville. This in turn will increase the area’s property values.

The Market for Golf Properties
Pace described a very active spring market at Glenmore.  “Year to date there have been 38 total written home sales,” he said, of which 29 are pre-existing homes and nine are new construction.

Many of the buyers are coming into the community from outside, he continued,  but there are also a noticeable number of moves within the community. As resident’s lives change some downsize while others move-up, but both choose to stay because they like the Glenmore lifestyle.   

An active part of the Glenmore market is the newest section called The Highlands reflecting a strong interest in new construction.  Both Craig Builders and Stanley Martin Homes stay busy there,

At Keswick Estate “we are receiving lots of activity and a lot of inquiries,” about the premium lots available Matheson said. Buyers can choose their own architect and builder and the streamlined approval process makes the whole process “easy to do.”

Boisvert reports an active market in Spring Creek as well where his company sold 10 new homes in the first five months of 2018. “The many amenities and a top-rated golf course add to the allure of the community,” he said adding that “several of our new home owners selected Spring Creek based solely on the course.”

The market is picking up in Wintergreen communities, but it’s not too late to get a good deal there, Marianella offered.  He explained that Stoney Creek residents are just 30 minutes away from Charlottesville and have an easy commute. The location also works well for two career couples with one spouse working elsewhere such as Lynchburg or Waynesboro.

One challenge for home sellers in golf communities is that relatively high prices put them in direct competition with new construction, Guthrie said.  For many buyers building a home designed  to their exact specifications is a great option.

However, builders are very busy right now, some booked well into 2019.  Guthrie believes the long wait for new homes will benefit sellers of existing houses as not everyone has the time or the patience to wait so long before they move in.    

Golf Courses Add Value
For golfers the joys of living near their favorite course are obvious, but there are plenty of other reasons to move into a golf community.

One is the economic benefit since golf courses can raise property values even for homes adjacent to  the community.

A study by researchers at Florida Atlantic University (based on a review of 10,000 real estate transactions in South Florida) found that “having a property adjacent to a golf course adds between 8 percent and 12 percent to property values on average.” 

Guthrie observed that a well kept golf course will help maintain subdivision values, benefitting everyone who lives in a community.  Everyone can appreciate the additional common ground space of a course, he continued, since it permits more and better views of the mountains compared to neighborhoods where views may be blocked by other houses.

There are also other delights associated with living near a golf course. Marina Ringstrom with Long & Foster – Glenmore  notes that “You don’t have to be a golfer to enjoy the activities on the course and the changing scenery it provides.” 

A Glenmore resident,  she enjoys the giant fountains that come on at night when they turn on the watering system at the course.  “The fountains put out big spinning plumes that are fun to watch.”

Royal gold, fine fescue is one of the attractions at the Keswick Golf Club’s course.  A decorative grass, it grows two to three feet in height with a pretty texture and golden color and is used to break up areas between holes, said Head Golf Pro Eric McGraw, noting that people enjoy watching its peaceful and beautiful wave.

Golf Course Lots More Valuable
While there are many reasons to live in a home right on the golf course, does that translate into a higher price?

“There is definitely a premium on golf course lots” since there is no one behind you and you have  a relatively private, beautifully landscaped and maintained extension to your property without additional work,  Guthrie said.

He urges non-golfers to take a golfing friend with them when shopping for a home on the course. The golfers will recognize areas most likely to attract errant balls that could damage a home’s siding. “If your home is located behind a green,” he said, you can enjoy watching the game and not risk damage to your house. 

Something for Everyone
Our local golf communities offer an enviable lifestyle and housing options to meet every need in a variety of home styles and price ranges. Call your REALTOR® today to find the one that’s right for you.


Celeste Smucker is a writer and blogger who lives near Charlottesville.

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