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Dec 26, 2014
Cuba Libre


(CUBA) If you think the market for building golf courses in the U.S. has been sluggish, consider this: Only one 18-hole golf course has been in built in Cuba since Fidel Castro’s 1959 revolution. According to Bloomberg News, the course was started in 1990 and took eight years to complete. The Varadero Golf Club, designed by Les Furber at a cost of just $4 million, battled the country’s credit problems, shortages of tires, batteries and fuel, and Cuba’s bureaucracy on the way to completion. “They don’t work very efficient and they got old equipment,” Furber is quoted as saying. “It was fun, but frustrating sometimes,” he said, and “not lucrative in any sense.” Before the revolution, Cuba was home to some beautiful courses, including a couple of Donald Ross layouts. In Castro’s early years, photos were published of the dictator awkwardly swinging a golf club in full battle fatigues. But those courses disappeared under the regime’s changing priorities. Perhaps, golf will make a comeback. A 400-acre luxury resort, including a new golf course, has been in the planning stages by a U.K. company for five years, but construction is yet to begin.

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Dec 22, 2014
Last of Its Kind


(CHARLESTON, SC) The Guggenheim family was counted this land as part of its hunting and cattle ranch preserve. With its pluming sweetgrass, winding creeks, expansive marsh and stately live oak trees, it was a special place. Today, it offers some of Daniel Island’s most stunning vistas: winding creeks, golden marsh grass, and the finishing holes of the Rees Jones golf course that takes full advantage of the spectacular setting. If you’d like to enjoy the best views of those finishing holes (and be able to walk to the clubhouse from your home), you’re in luck. The first homesites in exclusive Ralston Park, located within Daniel Island’s country club neighborhood Daniel Island Park, will be available after the first of the year. The homesites are priced from the mid $200,000s to $500,000. 

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Dec 19, 2014
Bahamian Rhapsody


(ABACO, BAHAMAS) Hard to beat the views of the Caribbean at the Tom Mackenzie/Donald Steele course at the Abaco Club on Winding Bay.  The fairways run about as close as one can get to the sea without falling in. Naturally, the Bahamian “tropical links” course has been at the top of a lot of folks’ lists as one of the best in the region. Originally conceived by self-made multimillionaire Peter de Savary, then managed by Ritz-Carlton, and most recently Marriott, the club has been through a few hands. Now there’s news that Southworth Development, which has experience with links-style resorts like Machrihanish Dunes in Scotland, has bought the Abaco Club from Marriott Vacation Club. Southworth is planning a “multimillion-dollar renovation” of the existing facilities, scheduled to begin immediately. A new golf practice facility, marina, and boathouse are also being planned. “The Abaco Club has everything money can’t buy,” said David Southworth, the company’s president. “It’s a gorgeous setting, with a well thought out master plan and a passionate membership. It’s a perfect complement to our existing properties and we look forward to taking this world-class facility to an even higher level.”

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Dec 17, 2014
7-Year Itch


(WICKENBURG, AZ) Set on more than 2,000 acres next to the Prescott National Forest, just over an hour from downtown Phoenix, the master planned community of Wickenburg Ranch has been refining its golf course for seven long years. The course was completed in 2008 and then, according to the club’s website, “painstakingly refined for the past seven years to ensure maximum playability.” Of course, we all know the real estate market and demand for private golf course living tanked right about the time the course was initially finished. Many private community courses under construction during that time didn’t survive those tumultuous times. So you have to give the developer credit for keeping the course from being swallowed up by the desert. Opening day is now set for February 7, 2015, a great time of year for Arizona golf. The private club is welcoming a limited number of daily-fee guests during its first season. You can book your round beginning on January 12. 

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Dec 15, 2014
3% Down


(NEW YORK) The pre-real estate crash market was famously lax for its underwriting standards. Do you know anyone who couldn’t qualify for a mortgage in those days? Of course, that lending strategy didn’t work out for banks or borrowers. As a consequence, in the years that followed it seemed miraculous for anyone to get approved without a massive down payment and an unblemished credit score. That’s about to change and it bodes well for the real estate market in 2015. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are putting lending new guidelines in place that will make it easier to qualify for a mortgage. And…they are going to start backing a 3% down payment, according to a report in CNNMoney. That’s particularly good news for first time buyers who are sorely needed to keep the rebounding housing market on an upward trend.

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