Like many SaddleBrooke residents, I don’t golf. But, my friends and neighbors do. As we work to bring SaddleBrooke together, we certainly must take into consideration that golf is literally at the heart of SaddleBrooke. No merger will ever pass that is not acceptable to the golf community. But, we also need to remember that our sprawling golf courses are incredibly expensive and affordable only because they are greatly subsidized by many non-golfing homeowners.
Discussions about uniting SaddleBrooke frequently involve questions about how to handle golf policies and expenses. As an active adult community, we must offer multiple ways for our residents to participate. As such, we must recognize that changing demographics and changing physical abilities need to be accommodated.
There are 63 holes of golf in SaddleBrooke. SaddleBrooke One is responsible for 27 holes and SaddleBrooke Two maintains 36 holes. Because golf is such an integral part of SaddleBrooke, merging into one HOA would involve many decisions: private vs public issues, scheduling systems for tee times, staffing concerns, fee structures, rules regarding dog walking, golf cart rentals, maintenance facilities, and equipment. Entering into a serious discussion about the impact of a merger on golf would also provide an opportunity to re-imagine how those 63 holes can best be utilized.
Plain and simple, our community needs to determine how to best use its courses, open space, and water. While serving current residents, we need to remain desirable to future buyers. And, we need to be aware that residents’ needs and preferences change. Nationwide, there was a golf course building boom from 1986 to 2005, but every year since 2005 course closures have exceeded openings*. An estimated 800 golf courses have closed in the United States over the last decade**.
Let’s explore various golfing options and choose those with the best cost/benefit analysis for the combined community. For example, maybe we should open a nine-hole par three course for the golfers. Nationally, Par 3 courses are becoming more and more popular particularly for aging golfers, those having compromised physical ability and those who simply don’t have time or desire to play 9 or 18 regulation holes of golf. A Par 3 annual membership might fit nicely with changing demographics and interests.
Devising a way to create a Par 3 course among SaddleBrooke’s 63 holes shouldn’t be difficult given the golf experience we have in our residents and professional golf staff. It might be as simple as adding an additional tee box closer to the green on a course that is relatively flat with little obstructions in the field of play.
Additional revenue is something both HOA’s are striving for. Home sales, restaurants, Desert View Theater, and other ticketed venues provide some income. Combining the assets of HOA1 & HOA2 allows us greater flexibility in many ways from rethinking our restaurants to re-imagining our golf courses and other amenities. Let’s think outside the tee box when it comes to golf. A par three nine-hole golf course might just be an answer.