A Tale of Two Regions

Michigan struggles while High Carolina is hot

Golf course pedigree has historically gone a long way toward protecting homeowners buying within the community, but no rankings or accolades seem to be protecting people in northern Michigan.

In 1996, Arthur Hills built three spectacular nines at the Bay Harbor Golf Club on cliffs overlooking Lake Michigan. The original plan was to allow public play on the course Golf Digest ranked No. 7 in the state, but only until the membership ranks were filled. More than 10 years later, you're still able to book as many tee times as you like—and take your pick of plenty of lakefront spec houses around the course property.

Forest Dunes Golf Club, ranked No. 6 in Michigan on the same list, is having similar trouble. Only 20 of 117 lots have sold since developers put them on the market in 2005.

On the other side of the ledger, it certainly helps to have the most famous golfer in the world stumping for you. The Cliffs at High Carolina development in the Blue Ridge Mountains outside Asheville, N.C., will be the home of Tiger Woods' first U.S. course design.

Woods' course, scheduled to open in 2009, will join seven courses—including two each by Jack Nicklaus and Tom Fazio—in a collection of golf communities. Houses in one of them, The Cliffs at Walnut Cove, have increased in value an average of 17% in the past year, according to Longitudes Group.

Action at The Cliffs also seems to support the theory that high-end properties are more immune to market downturns. Buying a house at Walnut Cove will cost you, on average, $1.4 million. At least that includes access to all eight golf courses.

By Matthew Rudy

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