Golfers do not have the reputation for being the most adventurous of sporting communities: they are more often associated with Pringle diamond knits than adrenalin highs. But, surprisingly, golf fanatics are now looking at more and more exotic locations for their golfing fix. Not for them a run-of-the-mill bolt hole in Spain or Portugal. When these adventurous types buy a second home they are going to far-flung places such as South Africa, the Caribbean, Newfoundland and the Middle East.
It sounds mad to embark on a six-hour flight for a game of golf, but some buyers are prepared to make a round trip of more than 1,000 miles for a long weekend spent on the fairways. The golfers say that, if you take into account the time spent hanging around airports and car hire offices on the way to the Algarve, you might as well add a couple of hours to the flying time and arrive at somewhere more exotic, with loads more attractions for non-golfing partners.
Many of those buying villas and apartments in or near golf developments half-way around the world are drawn by milder weather, making it possible to play golf throughout the year. Others opt for multi-sport centres. In Florida and the Caribbean, they play golf in the cooler seasons and surf, swim and snorkel in the hottest months. In Newfoundland, they ski in the winter and whack a ball around the greensward in the summer.
While those who have yet to discover golf tend to think that one course is very much like another, the true golf fanatic is prepared to cross oceans for the challenge of playing on courses with new and fearsome difficulties, such as the boiling mud pools, steam vents and craters in New Zealand or the crocodiles in the water hazard on the Lost City Golf Course in Sun City, South Africa.
The boom in golf developments abroad is linked to the perceptions of overseas property investors, who often choose a golf development, despite higher costs, because they hope rental prospects will be better. Many think that buying in a country where sunshine makes playing possible throughout the year will also increase rental prospects, particularly if the property can also be let on the US market.
James Peters, a low-handicap golfer, and his wife, Sarah, bought a five-bedroom chalet standing in nearly three acres of pine woods at Blueberry Lake in Mont Tremblant, Quebec, for about £200,000. They get a rental guarantee of 7 per cent for one year. James, 33, who runs the Nevada Bob golf concession at Selfridges, London, says: “I went to Portugal recently on a golf trip and paid £115 for a round on the San Lorenzo course. It was fantastic and worth the money, but other nearby courses are nearly as expensive and poor value. In Canada you can play on a top-quality course for about £30 and everything else is cheap. There are eight courses within a 30-minute drive. We plan to go back with a crowd soon and to visit in the summer. Blueberry Lake has just 50 chalets in 200 acres of woodland around a private lake and spa.”
Flights from Heathrow to Montreal take seven hours and the resort is a 90-minute drive away. There are also plenty of other attractions for non-golfers, with a choice of trail riding, white-water rafting, mountain biking, skiing, snowboarding, dog-sledding, tennis, rock climbing, fishing and canoeing.
Jagjit Sohal, 54, paid £250,000 for a four-bedroom villa in an Emaar Development in Dubai, two miles from the Emirates Golf Club. There are a number of good courses in the city, including the sandy Dubai Country Club, where players are given a piece of artificial turf to carry around, and, for night-time use during the hottest months, the floodlit Nad Al Sheba Club.
Flights to Dubai take about six hours and there is a wide choice of direct flights. Non-golfing partners should not get bored either, with Dubai’s shopping malls, gold souk, beaches, restaurants, clubs, dune-driving and horse-racing. Rental prospects, however, are unclear: the huge amount of new building over the past few years may hinder long-term prospects.
Sohal says: “I play cricket in the summer and in the winter I like to play golf twice a week, but in England you can’t rely on the weather. I have played in Portugal and Spain, but now I plan to go to Dubai about four times a year.”
Source: Times Online