Call for ‘less-elitist’ golf estate developments in SA
A NEW type of golf estate development – aimed at South Africa’s growing middle class – is being proposed to open the industry to a larger market and break down perceptions that golf estates are elitist.

The issue, which was raised at last week’s golf summit at Fancourt in George by US- based Golf Research Group managing director Colin Hegarty, has been widely supported by major stakeholders in South African golf estates.

Hegarty expressed surprise at South Africa’s trend of low- density developments.

Local figures show an average of 540 houses per golf estate, compared to the US average of 12 000. Average homes on these estates are 350m² on 1 000m² plots, whereas overseas residential units (which include flats and townhouses) often do not exceed 130m².

“The US and UK markets also offer a wide variety of products on the same golf course to accommodate a combination of income groups,” he said.

“In South Africa, 84 per cent of the golf estate properties are family homes, 7,9% apartments, 4,6% semi-detached units and 1% apartment blocks. There should be no reason why developers could not get a return on their estate investments by offering more affordable homes.”

Pam Golding CEO Andrew Golding said the golf course real estate model should be applied in less affluent communities than those being targeted.

He suggested smaller plots, duplex-style housing and development around existing municipal or new public courses.

The growth in townhouses and flats is still exceeding demand at 170% as a growing middle-class emerges.

“We have to actively change the negative perceptions that exist in order to promote acceptance and therefore growth in the sector.

“Golf has long held the stigma of being elitist. That golf estates have become perceived as rich men’s havens is due as much to economic principles as to anything else.

“To build a golf course of any quality costs between R20- million and R40-million. Once you have added the cost of the land, clubhouse facilities and spa and other amenities, the only way of reclaiming the investment is through the sale of residential stands.”

Arabella Group executive director and Golf Estate Forum chairman Riaan Gous said golf estate developers and the related industry should consider such developments as a way to open up golf to other communities and markets.

“A good-quality course and facilities could possibly be designed for between R5-million and R10-million. Nine-hole courses, which are popular as public facilities, could prove even more cost-effective.”

PricewaterhouseCoopers partner Mohale Masithela said private-public partnerships were ideal to make these developments a reality.

“Relationships with local municipalities can result in the upgrading of existing courses or be the beginning of new courses on municipal land, and affordable housing schemes.”

Article by: By Athane Scholtz Garden Route Reporter - www.theherald.co.za