Driving Force - Luxury Travel Magazine
|By: Matthew Brace, Issue 26 - Autumn 2006|
|(Golf real estate Australia). |
|GOLF REAL ESTATE INVESTMENT – AND ITS ACCOMPANYING BENEFITS – IS FAST BECOMING THE NEW LUXURY LIFESTYLE TREND IN AUSTRALIA|
|Forget sea-change, it’s time for a tee-change. Australia is beginning to embrace golf real estate as an alternative to the traditional passion for coastal living. Increasing numbers of people are investing in villas, land and resort apartments within golf developments. Truly golf-mad investors live there year-round, polishing their beloved Ping titanium woods, reducing their handicaps and enjoying views over manicured greens, sweeping fairways and eucalypt woodlands. The gentle soundtrack to their lives comprises little more than birdsong, interrupted only by the gentle whirr of golf buggies and the satisfying thwack of a strong, straight drive. Others use their properties for a set number of weeks each year – a place to unwind, play a round or two, impress friends or corporate clients, or simply soak up the stillness. And some buy purely to rent out. Many golf tragics fall in love with a particular course so deeply that they want to buy their own share of it and be able to show off their patch of immaculately verdant, Greg Norman designed Australia.|
But there are also attractions for the non-player – those to whom jiggers and mashie niblicks sound more like rare deep-sea fish than golf clubs. There is the security of investing in a rural view that’s unlikely to change in your lifetime and will help to maintain your investment’s value. It’s a similar philosophy to buying a house opposite a cemetery. Also, Australia boasts some of the best golf courses in the world, so the demand from both long- and short-term renters is strong, making it an even more tempting investment proposition. And there is the lingering belief that, at some point in life, golf comes to us all, so it’s better to be prepared. One golf real estate owner is thinking even further ahead, saying he wants to be buried under his favourite fairway, which he can see from his kitchen window. “That way, if I go first, the wife will always know I’m out there – still playing,” he says.
The trend of living on your favourite golf course came from the US, where it is huge, according to Alix Toynton, Director of Sales and Marketing at Monarch Investments, the developers of Macquarie Links Estate in southwest Sydney. “Momentum was just starting to get going when the investor tax was introduced, which put a dampener on the property market across the board,” she says. “Now that the tax has been withdrawn and the property market is steadying itself, interest in golf investment is starting to pick up again.” The success of Macquarie Links is proof of the increasing trend, with 343 properties sold since 1997 (including houses, land, villas and apartments) at a total value of $91million. The estate is selling apartments and villas in The Peak from $649,500. Membership of the Macquarie Links International Golf Course (a graceful, championship par-72) is included with each purchase in The Peak. This is a full individual membership that remains with the original purchaser, so investors can retain it in perpetuity even if they sell the property.
Success, too, has shone at the Hyatt Regency Coolum on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. The Hyatt Regency is on Coolum Beach, 20 minutes from Noosa, and is the home of the Australian PGA Championship. Created by American course designer Robert Trent Jones Jnr, the course is shaded by native melaleuca and eucalyptus trees, parkland and rainforest. It is a stunning landscape, in a big, bold, hot, Queensland kind of way. Most owners buy quarter-shares in villas through the Hyatt’s President /Ambassador Club scheme, giving them 91 nights per year to reside or rent out.
Victoria Dent, from the resort’s President/Ambassador Club, says that for under $100,000 investors are “owners for life”, which comes with membership of the Hyatt for them and their family (siblings included), as well as its spa facilities, tennis club, airport transfers and plenty more “value-added” perks. “The profile of the typical buyer is mostly Melbourne-, Sydney- and overseas-based professionals, aged between 33 and 55, and with two or three children,” says Dent. “There is no real necessity to be a golfer to own here; the main reason for purchase is to bring the family on holiday once a year to a great area of Australia with everything they want within the gates of the resort, including a beach and lifeguard.”
One of the hot Australian golfing locations is The Vintage, a residential and golfing complex in the Hunter Valley with a Greg Norman-designed 18-hole course. It sits in the heart of the Hunter’s wine country, bordered by Bimbadgen and Beggars Bridge vineyards. Owners of land sites at The Vintage (the latest release is now selling for between $220,000 and $315,000) can choose a pre-approved architect-designed concept home from the development’s Designer Collection or build their own. The Vintage’s developers, Medallist Developments and the Stevens Group, says holiday rental occupancy “can be as high as 100 per cent over the weekends”.
“We have sold about 250 lots in three years, with the vast majority being used as holiday homes. Only a handful of people live permanently on site. Access to golf membership is only available with the purchase of land or built product,” they add. It’s all part of what Medallist calls the tee-change lifestyle investment philosophy.
As the trend takes hold, more investors are looking to buy not just a piece of golf real estate but some public prestige. You can’t get much more public and prestigious than owning part of a course that hosts a major international tournament. The Novotel Vines Resort, in the majestic Swan Valley near Perth, will be host to the richest ($3million) golf tournament in Australia, the prestigious Johnnie Walker Classic, both this year and in 2009. Accor is developing 40 apartments next to the resort, where owners will be able to use the complex and resort facilities as well as the two 18-hole golf courses, although presumably not when Adam Scott, Nick Faldo and Ian Woosnam are making their way round.
Over in Rye, on Victoria’s breathtaking Mornington Peninsula, the Australian Open has recently been held at Moonah Links, where it is scheduled to be staged every few years. Investors watching last November’s tournament on television might be keen to get in now so they can watch the next Open from a ringside seat in their own slice of golf heaven. The majority of the 250 residential lots have already been sold, but some are still available and range from $260,000 to $360,000. There are also apartments managed by Peppers, and land packages and architecturally designed homes from $690,000 to over $1 million. Peppers also runs a hotel at the resort, while three golf lodges – the first of their kind in Australia and designed by award-winning architects Hayball Leonard Stent – are near completion. Moonah Links Resort’s Sales Executive, Bree Fairbairn, says while the area “has traditionally been a holiday destination for Melbournians, there has been a noticeable increase in permanent residents, partly spurred on by the development of the course and its rise to prominence through the Open”.
Sydneysiders after a weekend retreat that doubles as an investment might want to check out the Country Club Sydney. The 143-hectare development on a championship course at Cattai, near the Hawkesbury River, is an hour from the CBD. Its 200 large, free-standing homes (from $500,000) will be completed in Spring 2007 and already 50 have been sold off the plan. The club has been accepted into the Small Luxury Hotels Of The World portfolio, so when owners are not there, the rooms become the hotel’s suites.
Finally, an exotic project is under way on Dent Island, one kilometre off Hamilton Island in Queensland, where five-times British Open champion Peter Thomson is designing and building an 18-hole championship course. When completed, the course and resort will be the closest thing to Pacific Island golf living without leaving Australia.
|- Macquarie Links, (02) 9499 5066, www.monarchinvestments.com.au|
|- Hyatt Regency Coolum, (07) 5449 3564, email@example.com|
|- Country Club Sydney, (02) 4572 8831, www.thecountryclubsydney.com.au |
|- The Vintage, www.thevintage.com.au and www.medallist.com.au|
|- Novotel Vines, www.vines.com.au |
- Moonah Links, (03) 5988 5638, www.moonahlinks.com.au
|FOR RESTLESS GOLF TRAGICS|
- Leading Hotels of the World golf resorts, www.lhw.com/golf
|- Australian golf tours, www.westraliagolftours.com.au|
|- International golf tours, www.travelgolf.com and www.beachcomber.com.au |