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What to look for among the links

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Within a golf course community, there is a pecking order of desirability that is reflected in the price of the properties, all else being equal.

A golf course view comes at a premium, and the rule is essentially the same as that for waterfront property: The more expansive the view, the more expensive the home.

Houses overlooking the ninth or 18th holes can be in especially high demand, as well as homes overlooking a “signature” hole. Such holes typically have features such as a pond in front of the green; many of them are par 3, the shortest type of hole, potentially allowing for a view of the entire hole.

However, some course-side locations can be negatives. When most golfers misfire their shots, especially off the tee, they tend to slice — sending the ball on a wide arc to the right, for right-handers. Thus, a yard on that side of a fairway, especially about 200 yards from the tee, can turn into a combat zone. Even though back yards are out of bounds — the border of the course is marked by white stakes — and golfers are not supposed to play shots off the course, some do.

But as any golfer can attest, mis-hit shots can end up almost anywhere. When considering a property, look for dents or scuff marks and for signs of trampled landscaping. Danger from errant shots is especially problematic for families with young children. On the other hand, older children sometimes set up tables at a property’s edge selling balls they have found.

Explore whether there are any special restrictions on property adjacent to the course. Trampolines, for example, might be forbidden as incompatible with the hushed mood of the game.

On a larger scale, examine the terms of the golf course deal. These vary widely, with some communities acting as exclusive country clubs but others more open. Is there an initiation fee and/or a monthly golf fee that is in addition to any homeowner association dues? Is it required or optional? Who has playing privileges — just members and their guests or the general public as well? What types of preferences, such as booking of tee times well in advance, do members get? Are there discounts on merchandise, lessons or food at the clubhouse?

Also examine the course’s management. Who runs it, and how strong are the finances? When in trouble, course managers often first will step up their marketing efforts, and then may turn a private course into a public one. In rare instances, courses have been closed.

—Eric Yoder

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