Colorado Plays With House Money

In Colorado, the romance between golf and real estate has rekindled

A golf course closes in Florida, and the value of the neighboring homes drops $20 a square foot, immediately. A neighborhood panics when an Arizona course closes and suddenly nobody is mowing the grass. In a Reno, Nevada, development, a vacant golf course clubhouse burns after hoodlums finish vandalizing the once glamorous property.

But just north of Durango, Glacier Club’s Mountain Course opens and new-home construction soars to levels not reached since 2006. On the north side of Colorado Springs, the developers of Flying Horse Club have a second golf course in the works in a community of 270 homes. And in Berthoud, a soon-to-open TPC course has provided the impetus for Heron Lakes, the state’s first master-planned golf community in 10 years.

Nationally, golf’s numbers are dismal. But in Colorado, the romance between golf and real estate has rekindled. Yes, the mowers roar early and windows sometimes break. Golfers curse loudly and urinate when nature calls. But the scenery, the landscaping and the resort-like amenities continue to charm home buyers, especially if they play the game.

“Golf, and especially Glacier having 36 holes, is what exposes us to a lot of people in other markets like Texas and Arizona,” says Lindsay Lubrant, the director of sales and marketing at Glacier, the rebranding of a spectacular 1,000 acres in the shadow of the Hermosa Cliffs that was once known as Tamarron. “We’ve dedicated 50 percent of our property to open space and the golf course. So it really helps afford that feeling of true privacy and unspoiled scenic living in the mountains. And it definitely drives traffic.”

Glacier already had 27 holes before the design team of Hale Irwin and Todd Scheider added the crown jewel, nine holes on 228 acres of land obtained in an exchange with the National Forest Service. With steep elevation changes on sheer rock, the site presented challenges. And, there was the all-important housing element – mostly for second homes for Texans and Arizonans.

“You may say, ‘Let’s put a tee up on that mesa,’” Irwin says. “Uh, well, that mesa is a $5 million lot.”

So, no tee there. And no $5 million lot, as yet; Lubrant says properties range from under $200,000 for a half-acre to just over $1 million for 2.5 acre lots with screaming views of the Animas Valley or neighboring 14ers. The completion of the final nine on the Mountain Course has started the machinery on 19 homes under construction – 11 by Aspen Group, the development company headed by Rick and Andrea Carlton, and eight others by new members. “That’s the strongest market we’ve seen since 2006,” Lubrant says.

The Flying Horse North project in Colorado Springs piggy backs on the success of Flying Horse, a luxury resort with golf course and spa in a community of 900 or so homes of all sizes over 1,500 acres. The new community, about 10 minutes away, will have only about 270 homes over 1,400 acres, average lot size 5 acres. No resort or spa here, but another golf course is on track to open in spring 2019.

And the Berthoud TPC community has begun selling lots, starting at around $200,000.

All of this is happening in a strong Colorado real estate market and a weak global golf market. Property at Colorado Golf Club, ranked No. 4 on Golfweek magazine’s top 100 residential courses, ranges from half a million for lots backing up to the short course there up to $2.6 million for a 6,600-square-foot, four-bedroom, six-bathroom home.

Castle Rock’s Plum Creek Golf Club, on the other hand, was on the market at press time. Price tag: only $6 million.

Categories: Human Resources