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America's Top 100 Golf Communities

IN THE PIPELINE

The best-laid golf-community master plans can go awry, but ground-floor buyers do get their choice of lots, and founding-member discounts of some magnitude. Here are five communities-in-the-making that bear watching.

Amelia National Fernandina Beach, Florida.
Not quite on-island, this budding community offers an attractive mulligan to would-be buyers at Amelia Island Plantation. Amelia National's Tom Fazio course sports a rumpled-fairway look and sinuous bunkering. A massive, mansard-roof clubhouse will be the hub of activity. Visit amelianationalgolf.com.

Grizzly Ranch Portola, California.
A half day's drive from the Bay Area, this foray into Ansel Adams terrain will have a Bob Cupp golf course and fly-fishing facilities. The development's vision draws naturally upon its Sierra heritage. Visit grizzlyranch.com.

Ritz-Carlton Golf Club at Creighton Farms Aldie, Virginia.
Jack Nicklaus's course in the hunt country west of Washington, D.C., will mark his inaugural pairing with Ritz-Carlton's golf division. The master plan calls for just 180 homes. Visit nicklaus.com.

Sugarloaf Mountain Apopka, Florida.
Somehow the hot design team of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw built courses in Nebraska and Indonesia before Florida. Their hyperbolically named Sugarloaf Mountain project will make Orlando seem a hundred miles away instead of fifteen. Visit themountain.cc.

Suncadia Roslyn, Washington.
The brains behind the Sunriver Resort in Bend, Oregon, with its small-town feel and outdoorsy luxury, have moved north to build another utopia. The private Tumble Creek Club will have a Tom Doak layout and two excellent daily-fee courses nearby. Built primarily for the Seattle market (eighty miles away), Suncadia will snag folks from elsewhere, too. Visit www.suncadia.com. —David Gould

WHY FAZIO AND NICKLAUS REIGN

If golf courses were motion pictures, those in upscale housing developments would be big-budget studio releases, not offbeat indies. "The developer has to do a lot of preselling," points out Scottsdale course designer John Fought, "so he's willing to pay that big fee up front for a Tom Fazio or a Jack Nicklaus." In fact, of our 100 top communities, twenty-eight have courses from Fazio's sketch pad and twenty-four from Nicklaus's. Trailing with thirteen is Pete Dye, then Arnold Palmer, Tom Weiskopf, Robert Cupp and the individual Joneses (Robert Sr., Robert Jr. and Rees).

What, no Doaks?Not yet. While beloved by purists, Tom Doak may be perceived as a riskier bet. (Purists themselves, the Doaks of the world may not much like designing around housing, either.) Architects such as Fazio, who is known for courses pleasing to both the eye and the scorecard, are safer. And while Nicklaus's courses are known for having sharp teeth, residents respect his playing greatness too much to complain, and developers love the star power (and media coverage) he brings to ground-breakings.

Pete Dye may be the only residential golf architect to get away with true mischief. He built towering mounds in front of a short par four at Old Marsh in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, then installed a bell behind the green for golfers to clang as they finished. Alongside it is the inscription: Ring this bell for my dad, Paul D. Dye, who loved his family and everything about the game of golf. As a result, residents have never found the courage to flatten those infernal mounds. —D.G.

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