It’s now 15 years since Australian Golf Digest first began chronicling the phenomenon of residential golf developments in Australia. By our count, approximately 50 golf courses have been built with some sort of residential component attached to them.

The construction rate of new golf ‘communities’ has slowed for a variety of reasons since the Global Financial Crisis, but the appeal of ‘Living On The Fairway’ remains strong.

The Australian property market is buoyant. Interest rates haven’t been at this current level since the 1950s. Demand for property is high. Demand for quality property is even higher. And Australians have a fascination with property.

“When you combine that fascination with the desire to live on a golf course, it makes living on the fairway a great deal,” says Ray Ellis, chief executive officer of First National Real Estate.

“You’re five minutes from the first tee, five minutes from a top-quality restaurant, five minutes from your garden and five minutes from good friends. It’s not just about the golf. Living on the fairway is all about lifestyle. And lifestyle is one of the big things that people are looking for now. The only downside is that occasionally you might find a golf ball in your garden.”

When homebuyers consider the most desirable aesthetic aspects, historically it’s been water views, closely followed by golf course views and parklands. It’s sometimes overlooked that a lot of people who live on golf courses aren’t actually golfers. Beautiful views of tree-lined fairways and manicured turf can be appreciated regardless of whether or not you play the game.

Take off your golfer’s hat and walk around a residential golf estate. It’s beautiful isn’t it? Well, that’s your backyard to walk through every afternoon and you don’t have to mow it, you don’t have to fertilise it, you don’t have to look after it. You just have to enjoy it. None of the physical labour is required, just the enjoyment factor and that has a premium price.

The selection criteria for housing used to be affordability, location and proximity to services. But this dramatic shift towards lifestyle as an influencing factor has materialised just in the past decade.

“It’s a generational change. A standard pathway in Australia used to be for people to get married at 21, purchase their first house at 22, and have their first child at 23,” says Ellis.

“Now it’s travel to Europe by the time you’re 30 and set up your own business by the age of 35. Some people aren’t starting a family until their 40s. It’s just the way it is now compared to previous generations.”

So what is the outlook in 10 years given there are likely to be fewer large parcels of land on which to build more residential golf developments? Could property values in existing golf communities increase in relation to other types of property?

“Traditionally, real estate has always performed well as a long-term investment. And this relatively new phenomenon of living on the fairway adds a new dimension for those seeking property, lifestyle and investment,” Ellis says.

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The integration of the residential and golf community has been instrumental to Sandhurst’s appeal in Melbourne’s south-east corridor

The Shift Towards Lifestyle

Sandhurst near Cranbourne in Melbourne’s south-east growth corridor is a golf community where property has delivered capital growth on the back of two 18-hole courses designed by Thomson Perrett.

The last of Sandhurst’s 1,350 lots were sold more than a year ago. However, there are usually a dozen houses on the market. Just under 10 per cent of re-sales occur per year at Sandhurst where the average house price is $644,000 (according to

The integration of the residential and golf community has been instrumental to Sandhurst’s appeal. It has amenities that wouldn’t be found at a stand-alone golf club or stand-alone residential estate. These include a health club, basketball and tennis courts, sports oval, pool, bar and restaurant plus a new café – all with longer operating hours than in a suburban centre.

For that reason the clubhouse has a much more vibrant atmosphere than a traditional golf club. It’s worthwhile noting that Sandhurst – the national headquarters for the PGA of Australia – has introduced novelties such as Frisbee Golf, Kick Golf and Big Hole Golf to attract new players, especially children.

Unlike some residential golf estates, Sandhurst actually welcomes visitors to use its resort-style facilities six days a week. The PGA Centre for Learning & Performance is a one-stop shop with all the latest game-improvement technology.

It’s estimated that 45 per cent of Sandhurst homeowners are young families – couples with kids. Apart from outstanding recreational facilities (the beach is 10 minutes away), another feature is 24-hour security, which is credited for a crime-rate eight times lower than surrounding areas.

According to an annual club survey, residential members value the estate’s landscaping, open spaces, parks, paths and lakes above anything else, followed by security and the health club.

Hence, the appeal of living in a structured community is as simple as wanting to be in a nice, secure landscape that is managed by someone else.

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Investment poolside townhouses at
Magenta Shores start from $520,000

Magenta Shores, on the New South Wales Central Coast, is one of the finest blue-chip offerings on the eastern seaboard. The residential golf estate is nestled on a narrow isthmus with a pristine saltwater lake system to the west and the sparkling Pacific Ocean to the east. Wyrrabalong National Park abuts to the north and south with the coast’s last remaining rainforest.

Incorporating the renowned 5-star Accor Pullman Resort, residents have access to all of the resort’s facilities including five swimming pools, tennis courts, gymnasium, heated pool and steam room.

Magenta has just released its pinnacle dress circle location, named Sanctum. This offering of sophisticated beach homes and golf terraces is at the forefront of architectural design, crafted to synergise with the pristine ocean foreshore and picturesque fairways and greens. Commanding water views are complemented with a rooftop piazza where residents can barbecue and entertain or laze in a jacuzzi while whale spotting.

Investment poolside townhouses at Magenta start from $520,000. The new luxury golf-view terraces are selling off the plan from $745,000. NBN-fibre broadband is available to all new homes.

The Vintage is another golf resort creating a structured community in and around its fairways. Right in the heart of the NSW Hunter Valley, Vintage Realty offers prestige residential land, established houses, as well as investment apartments for sale within the world-class 18-hole championship golf course designed by Greg Norman. 

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The Vintage has been cleverly designed to ensure that each of the home sites have generous views of the course, parkland or the surrounding countryside. Large corridors of green space throughout the community embrace the unique Hunter Valley environment.

Some of the most successful residential golf developments have been built on the fringes of Australia’s capital cities in what was once regarded as unfashionable areas when they were proposed at the turn of the century.

North Lakes on Brisbane’s northern outskirts is now home to approximately 6,000 dwellings and some 20,000 residents around a layout designed by Graham Marsh. Macquarie Links in Sydney’s southwest is a beautifully mature gated community overlooking a highly regarded Robin Nelson course. Sanctuary Lakes near Point Cook on the western outskirts of Melbourne is another success story. About 2,300 lots were sold off the coattails of a Greg Norman layout that has hosted events on the PGA Tour of Australasia.

Twin Creeks at Luddenham in Greater Western Sydney attracted homebuyers to a semi-rural estate with a championship-length course designed by Marsh. The 177-lot community is situated in a neighbourhood of remnant Cumberland Forest, rich with ancient red gum, melaleuca, and swamp oaks.

In the initial release about a decade ago, 40 large blocks sold for an average of $820,000. The final allotments in the low-density community sold over a year ago. And now with plans for a second Sydney Airport at nearby Badgerys Creek, re-sale values at Twin Creeks would appear to be sound.

Residential golf estates outside Australia’s capital cities often appeal to retirees and professionals who can detach from urban lifestyles. The digital revolution allows people to stay in touch and work at the flick of a button.

For Pacific Dunes Port Stephens, easy access to one of the country’s fastest-growing regional airports (with direct flights to Melbourne, Brisbane, and the Gold Coast) is a real drawcard. Located 10 minutes from Newcastle Airport, Pacific Dunes is a superb location for residents who travel both domestically and internationally.

Seven stages have completely sold at the 135-hectare master-planned community that features an 18-hole layout by James Wilcher. Less than 50 per cent of home sites remain in the latest release, The Lakes Precinct, where level lots of 615sqm-695sqm are priced from $295,000. All blocks have golf course and lakeside views in the private gated community. Enquiries have just opened for Pacific Dunes’ last 16 quarter-acre blocks (1,000sqm) in The Greens precinct. With golf course views, they are priced from $235,000.

Boutique Estates and Retirement Villages

While large-scale residential golf projects are more difficult to develop, a trend has emerged in relation to small boutique estates and retirement villages. Golf clubs on private land are increasingly looking for ways in which to help revitalise existing facilities. One relatively modest club in Greater Western Sydney has plans to offload five acres of its course to a developer – which is anticipated to reap between $5-6 million for the club.

Cessnock Golf Club in the NSW Hunter Valley took advantage of a similar opportunity to redevelop its course by entering into a partnership with Daracon Property. After obtaining some extra land from the NSW Government, the club was able to commission Jack Newton to redesign ‘The Oaks’ with the balance to be subdivided for housing.

Rebranded as Stonebridge, the residential estate is a Torrens title subdivision with freehold ownership at an affordable price. It’s attracted a mix of retirees and young families. Land in the newest release, Stage 5, is selling from $225,000 for blocks ranging in size from 615sqm to 1,130sqm.

Elsewhere in the Hunter, Newcastle’s Shortland Waters Golf Club has entered into a joint venture with Aveo Group to safeguard its future. The leading owner, operator and manager of retirement communities will build 300 independent living villas and 127 aged care rooms.

As part of the development, Aveo will make a significant investment in the golf club, committing to help refurbish the existing golf course and build a new clubhouse that is expected to reignite the club’s membership base.

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Newcastle Golf Club’s master planned village is on schedule to deliver stage one by mid-2017.

Positioned between existing fairways, Aveo Newcastle will offer an unprecedented level of care to ensure residents have access to the services, facilities and type of accommodation that will meet their individual needs, now and in the future.

The master-planned village is on schedule to deliver stage one by mid-2017, which will include the release of 50 villas. The village will offer a three-level community centre featuring a resident kitchen, theatre, piano lounge, world-class wellness centre and IT Hub, as well as a top-level bar and lounge overlooking the scenic natural surrounds. Residents will also have easy access to the Forum Sports and Aquatic Centre next door at The University of Newcastle.

The result is a win-win for both parties and will benefit the broader Newcastle area: “This development will see both Shortland Waters Golf Club and local residents enjoy upgraded facilities, including a fantastic new course layout and bustling club house,” said Gary Kordic, Aveo’s executive general manager of developments.

“As well as providing certainty to current golf club members, the Aveo investment will ensure the Shortland Waters Golf Club can now continue to maintain custodianship of what is a unique community asset.”

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Cranbrook Residences will comprise 53 luxurious apartments – many with golf-course views over Castle Hill Country Club’s sixth and seventh fairways – and will have its own central cafe.

Another luxurious retirement village alongside Castle Hill Country Club in the Hills District in Sydney’s northwest is scheduled for completion in early 2017. Designed for lifestyle-enrichment, Cranbrook Residences will comprise 53 luxurious apartments – many with golf-course views over Castle Hill’s sixth and seventh fairways. Residents will enjoy the central cafe, an outdoor barbeque and entertaining area, a library, state-of-the-art wellness centre with hair and beauty salon, hydrotherapy pool, visiting doctor’s consultation suite plus a fitness centre offering yoga, Pilates and personal training.

“Golf-front living offers a range of excellent benefits including outstanding views, the convenience and close proximity of the golf course and clubhouse and the social lifestyle this brings. The location of Cranbrook Residences was specifically selected so that our residents could enjoy these benefits,” says Cranbrook Residences’ CEO Kerry Mann.

Across the Tasman, the phenomenon of golf-course living continues. Clearwater resident Joe Mullins sums up what the lifestyle means to him: “Having resided at the Clearwater Golf Course in Christchurch for a little over 12 months now, I can confidently say it has exceeded all my expectations. From the moment I turn off the main road into the tree-lined avenue leading to the resort I have a feeling of being on holiday.

“The tranquil views over the water to the manicured fairways and 18th green with the alps in the background is simply outstanding, coupled with access to my favourite hobby within minutes, numerous walking and cycling tracks and a quality home in a safe neighbourhood ensures I am living the dream.”

“There is a pleasant diverse group of neighbours, many non-golfers to intermingle with, and a real sense of community with plenty of social activity seemingly at your doorstep. It is a lifestyle I would readily recommend to all and sundry.”