The best links in Scotland, New Zealand and the US can be your own backyard.

For the passionate golf lover, stepping out your front door and onto a fairway is nirvana. Golf course developments across the world cater to the nine-iron set, but not all are created equal. The best locations combine nature with man-made architectural gifts.

St Andrews, Scotland
This slate-gray town on the Fife coast is the historic home of golf. The game is said to have developed from local shepherds hitting balls with their crooks across the close-cropped fields. The town, about an hour from Edinburgh, has 11 courses, including the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, golf’s main governing body, which was founded before the American Revolution. It is also home to the University of St Andrew, Scotland’s oldest and the alma mater for Prince William and Kate.

“There is a wide range of properties in the area, from period flats and houses in town to old rectories, farmhouses and even castles nearby,” said Jamie Macnab, Director, Residential at Savills Edinburgh estate agents. For a piece of history, look for properties in the centre near the Old Course, home of the Open Championship, whose 1st and 18th holes come right into the town. “A prime flat near the Old Course will be anything from £600,000 upwards,” said MacNab. “If it is overlooking the course it will be much more, well over £1 million.” The Hamilton Grand is one such development, where 26 luxury flats have been developed from a Victorian grand hotel on the edge of the Old Course. Elsewhere in town, properties cost much less, for example, a two-bed flat starts at around £250,000.

Fife Today: local news and sport

Maui, Hawaii
With Professional Golfers Association (PGA) courses designed by the likes of Arnold Palmer and Ben Crenshaw, and lush green fairways backed by the Pacific Ocean, this tropical island is a top golf destination. The balmy island weather does not hurt either.

The Wailea Golf Club on the south shore, the Kapalua Resort on west Maui, and the nearby Kaanapali Golf Resort are three of Maui’s most famous golf resorts, with seven grand courses between them. Every January Kapalua hosts the PGA season opening tournament, the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. “Wailea has endless sunshine and views of the islands of Kahoolawe and Lana'I, plus five-star hotels like the Four Seasons Maui and shopping and dining,” said Tobi Fisher, director of sales for Hawaii Life Real Estate in Maui. “Kapalua has a dramatic coastline with humpback whales breaching against the backdrop of Moloka'i.”

Most of the properties available in Wailea and Kapalua are condos and single-family homes. Wailea has more on offer than Kapalua, but houses start around $5 million in both areas. The average price of a condo in Wailea is $1.8 million in Wailea and is $1.2 million in Kapalua. A one-bedroom condo in Kaanapali starts around $450,000.

The Maui News: island news, blogs and more

Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Golfing here has a Lowcountry charm not found anywhere else, with palmettos and moss hanging from the trees, plus well over 200 days of sun a year and an average balmy temperature of 70F. Hilton Head Island has Atlantic beaches, is only an hour from Savannah, Georgia, and has a variety of private, semi-private and public courses. The PGA Tour comes through to play at the Harbor Town Golf Links (in the Sea Pines Resort), designed by Pete Dye and considered one of the best in the US.

The island has many gated communities and resorts that are all paired with one or more courses, such as Long Cove Club, which is exclusively private, and the Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort, which has public courses. “For the most part, the properties available are single-family homes and condo townhouses, although we call them villas,” said Chip Collins, broker/owner of Collins Group Realty. There are also some fractional ownership properties available, but they are not as common. “Typically a two-bed townhouse with golf course views starts in the low $200,000 range and a three-bed in the low $300,000 range,” explained Collins. “Single-family homes start around mid-$300,000 and go up.”

The market is up for this type of property, with a rise in the number of transactions, but not price. Inventory is shrinking and on the mainland, some new development is taking place, such as Hamptons Hall.

The Island Packet: Lowcountry news and reviews


Scottsdale, Arizona
With more than 200 courses, Scottsdale might just be golf heaven. It has near perfect weather year round (330 days of sun) and attracts pro players and vacationing newbies alike to the private and moderately priced municipal greens located around the High Sonoran Desert. The area is home to TPC Scottsdale, the course that holds the most-attended PGA Tour stop, the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Over the past two years, “the market shifted from one of the worst in the country to one of the top three,” said Don Matheson of the Matheson Team and RE/MAX Fine Properties. “Inventory is shrinking and prices are rising, although not dramatically.” Courses with real estate range from public  to private country clubs. Troon North is public with 36 holes of excellent golf, while Desert Mountain is private with six championship Jack Nicklaus courses. Every type of property is available, from large single-family villas to condos to fractional ownership, where buyers purchase a 1/8 or 1/12 fraction of a property that translates to a certain number of weeks they can stay. “Generally fractionals start around $20,000,” said Matheson, “while fee simple, or freehold, properties start at $200,000 and go up.” According to Matheson, prices are predicted to rise 7% to 9% over the next 12 months.

East Valley Tribune: regional newspaper covering towns around Phoenix and Scottsdale


North Island, New Zealand
From the Paraparaumu Beach Golf Club on the Kapiti Coast outside of Wellington to Kauri Cliffs in the far north, the North Island is a golf mecca down under. The country’s spectacular bays, cliffs, dunes and natural flora make playing here a challenge for even scratch players. Paraparaumu has hosted the New Zealand Open 12 times and Kauri Cliffs is one of the best in the world with six cliff-top holes that sheer off into the Pacific Ocean. This is not to say the South Island is a slouch when it comes to golf courses. The Hills in Arrowtown, which recently hosted the Pro-Am Championship, is a spectacular spot surrounded by the barrenness of the Remarkables Mountains and the Crown Range peaks.

Hawke’s Bay on the southeast coast of the North Island has 26 different courses, including the world-famous Cape Kidnappers which Golf Magazine ranked 33rd in the world. Homes in most areas across New Zealand are increasing in affordability due to very low mortgage rates and the median house price is now only 355,000 New Zealand dollars. However, so far in 2012, Hawke’s Bay properties became less affordable by 2.9%, although it is still a buyer’s market. Near Cape Kidnappers in Te Awanga, beach houses can go for around $200,000 to $500,000 New Zealand dollars with some single-family houses with Pacific views going for $1 million or more. “There is also an exclusive subdivision called Parkhill where sections sell between $400,000 to $900,000,” said Paul Whitaker, Hawkes Bay regional manager of Property Brokers Ltd. “The lots are approximately two acres and all have beautiful sea views.”

Hawke’s Bay Today: area news, business and events