Pursuing a life as close to nature as possible would have been madness to the seventeenth-century English philosopher Thomas Hobbes, who sensed “continual fear and danger” in such an existence. Hobbes felt certain it would be “poor, nasty, brutish and short.”
We could change old Hobbes’s mind with the help of a time tunnel, showing him the mix of civilized refinement and untamed natural beauty at America’s finest golf communities. Right now, as Briar’s Creek members enjoy their plush new clubhouse and Talisker Club members begin skiing in and out of their Red Cloud lodge, residents at properties like Black Bull in Montana and Spring Island in South Carolina are tramping through raw nature, studying its flora and fauna with the aid of staff naturalists.
A fine balance has been struck. Enjoying the comforts and refinements of a top-shelf community—including golf that brims with beauty and challenge—today’s person of means wants to reach beyond all that and plunge into wild, unspoiled surroundings. Further, he wishes to make his luxury community as sustainably green as possible.
In deference to Hobbes, “poor, nasty and brutish” are fitting adjectives for our current world economy. Meaning that, if you can make it happen, owning the most desirable and best-managed real estate on earth offers reassurance.
These one hundred exquisite environments are case studies in how to make life on earth as pleasing, stimulating and worthwhile as possible. They have sited themselves within the finest natural surroundings one could wish for, and added all the comforts of home.
Tour stars Hale Irwin and Hubert Green were among the winners of the Bruno’s Memorial senior event, played on Greystone’s Bob Cupp–designed course during a fourteen-year run. The second course here, by Rees Jones, has a country manor–style stone clubhouse and hills of hardwood framing it.
Golf: 36 holes (Bob Cupp, Rees Jones).
Homes: From $350,000.
Blackstone Country Club, Peoria
The desert topography is relatively tame, but the amenities and activities of this community within a community (Vistancia is the mothership) add up to plenty. Jim Engh’s unbridled approach yielded a visual, visceral joyride of a golf course.
Golf: 18 holes (Jim Engh).
Homes: From $600,000.
Homesites: From $250,000.
Desert Highlands, Scottsdale
This gated community and television’s Skins Game debuted together in 1983. The golf course is a flash-bunkered beauty by Jack Nicklaus, conceived with the blessing of developer Lyle Anderson. It’s possible that more money changes hands on the community’s enormous, Gary Panks–designed putting course.
Golf: 18 holes (Jack Nicklaus).
Homes: From $1 million.
Homesites: From $350,000.
Desert Mountain, Scottsdale
Its final area of development is a neighborhood called Cintarosa Ranch, perched on the property’s highest point. It divides itself into large lots where twenty-one homes of about five thousand square feet will be built. Buy one and you get an equity membership to the golf club, where it’s all Nicklaus (six championship courses) all the time.
Golf: 108 holes (Jack Nicklaus).
Homes: From $900,000.
Homesites: From $400,000.