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Are Golf Course Communities Becoming a Thing of the Past?

Are Golf Course Communities Becoming a Thing of the Past?

As I type this blog, I am sitting in my backyard looking at the fourth hole of the private golf course community my family and I have called home for the last two decades.

One of the many things that attracted us to this particular community was the overall ambience that living on a golf course provides. The wide expanse of nature in our backyard provided an appealing and peaceful view. Our children loved seeing the wide variety of wildlife that also make the course their home. It is not unusual to see all sorts of birds including large herons and cranes, turtles sunning themselves on the rough as well as iguanas, foxes, alligators and even an otter that has played in the canal that rings the course for years.

I recently learned that yet another Florida golf course will be developed into a planned community. California-based developer, Standard Pacific Corp., will be turning the 33-acre Raintree Golf & Country Club in Pembroke Pines golf course into a community of 105 single-family homes. The course had been closed since 2006. The city of Pembroke Pines purchased it in 2009 for $9.1 million and sold it last week for $7.7 million.

Isn’t this the scenario played out in the minds of every owner whose home currently sits on or adjacent to a private golf course? If the course cannot remain profitable, it will close, the property may sit abandoned and become an eyesore or it will be sold and developed at some point, which will completely change the nature and overall feel of the community?

After all, there is only so much green space left in most parts of Florida. Now that builders are starting to build again, looking to redevelop existing green space such as golf courses makes sense.

Some developers who built these kinds of communities understood this future risk and encumbered the real property on which the course was situated with a restrictive covenant requiring that the property always remain open green space used for a golf course purpose only. Of course, that kind of restrictive covenant can be extinguished by application of the Marketable Record Title Act (MRTA) and many of these golf course covenants have since been extinguished, thirty years or more after the first root of title creating same.

Now I realize that some folks might welcome the obliteration of the golf course next door. I venture to guess, however, that more folks would be wary of what kind of development might go up as well as the potential impact to their structure (not to mention their quiet enjoyment of their property) as a result of the ongoing construction. Lest we remain too human-focused in our concerns, it is important to also mention that developing a golf course results in the death and displacement of countless wildlife.

As for me, I would rather look at the beauty of nature any day of the week.

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