Golf Course Homes in Southwest Florida
It is said that there are more golf courses per capita in Fort Myers, Naples, Cape Coral than anywhere else in the United States, with championship course designs by Gordon Lewis, Arthur Hills, Bob Cupp, Tom Fazio, Chip Powell, and Jack Nicklaus, to name a few.
For many home Southwest Florida real estate buyers, golf is what draws them to the region, so understanding the types of golf membership is a key part of the decision-making process. In this article, we overview the lingo used when describing the types of golf communities in Southwest Florida.
Equity Golf Membership
Equity membership is an individual ownership in the golf club, separate from ownership of a residence in the community. Depending on the rules and regs, membership might be open to residents only or open to applicants anywhere. Membership is by application and an initiation fee, ranging $40,000 to $250,000. Depending on the community and fees, membership is limited to 225 – 350 members per 18 holes. Annual club dues start around $5000 and can be much higher.
Because people frequently move from one golf community to another in Southwest Florida, equity initiation fees are usually refundable. Upon resignation, the refund may be (a) percentage of what was paid for initiation, (b) a 100% refund of what was paid or (c) a percentage of the prevailing rate. Refund payouts can vary from immediately to a ratio of 4:1 … meaning for every four new members, one outgoing member is refunded.
In some cases, an equity membership owner can sell the membership independently or the owner can offer the membership as a package with a condo or home for sale.
Some equity clubs also offer an alternative sports membership, which includes tennis, swimming, dining, fitness center and golf limited to the summer months and/or a limited to fixed number of tee times per month. Equity clubs almost always also have a social membership option as well.
In most of the communities that have equity golf clubs, membership is not required. That is, non-golfers also live in the community.
Bundled Golf Membership
The majority of golf communities are called “bundled” golf, where membership is bundled together with title to the property. All residents (“front doors”) are members. There is no initiation fee, but there are modest annual club dues of about $1800 – $4000 per year.
Residents pay only a cart fee (or a trail fee if using your own cart). The average number of “front doors” is around 800 in each community. So the plus side of bundled golf is affordability. The down side is that getting tee times can be difficult in prime season.
Title to the property and membership automatically passes to the new owner at closing; some clubs charge a transfer fee ($1000-$1500) to the buyer (or the seller may offer to pay the transfer fee).
Golf Community Price Ranges in Southwest Florida
Most communities have a mixture of condos, villas, townhomes, and single-family homes. Prices range from $90,000 to the multi-millions.
More About Local Courses
Public Courses: Players pay a greens fee and cart fee. Fees vary during the year, with higher rates in season. Some courses have differing fee schedules for residents versus non-residents. Examples: Coral Oaks (Cape Coral), Tiburon (Ritz-Carlton, Naples), Shell Point (Fort Myers)
Semi-Private Clubs: A semi-private club is one that has members but also allows non-members to play. Some bundled golf clubs are semi-private.
Walking: To keep play moving, most courses require carts. Some courses allow walking anytime, and others allow walking at certain times of the year (summer) and/or certain times of the day (early morning, late afternoon).
Reciprocal Play: Most clubs, bundled and equity, offer reciprocal play privileges with area courses. Typically, reciprocal play is offered only in the off-season or summer months.
Tenant Transfer Fee: For those who offer their condo or home to renters, tenants can assume the full rights and privileges as if they were the owners / members by paying a transfer fee of about $100 for the time period they are in residence. This option is more often available in bundled communities.
Featured Southwest Florida Golf Communities