7. Spanish Peaks
Big Sky, Montana
Blue-ribbon trout streams ply the foothills and some of America’s longest, snowiest ski trails are painted onto distant mountainsides. Add luxury and you’ve got a club community ripe for national acclaim. The clubhouse at Spanish Peaks has guest suites, fine dining, locker facilities and golf/ski storage. There’s also an equestrian center, a planned ski lodge and an outfitter to help you tame the wilderness. Tom Weiskopf, king of American high-elevation golf, designed the 7,200-yard course.
Park City, Utah
On style points and hipness quotient, this five-year-old community stands apart from other golf real estate projects. Armed with all that panache, developers might be expected to drag their feet when it comes to building the amenities. Instead, Talisker is a model of swift execution. Already there is Talisker Tower, at the Empire Pass ski community; the Red Cloud Cabin, another ski clubhouse; and the Talisker Club Park at Tuhaye (pronounced “TOO-hay”), with its clubhouse and spa. In keeping with the (Uptown) tone, decor inside these alpine facilities avoids mounted taxidermy.
9. The Greenbrier Sporting Club
White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia
The downhill skiing in these hills is modest, otherwise the array of activities and luxury amenities of the GSC admit no deficiency. Nearly two hundred homes have been planned and built here since the community was founded in 2000—enough of a population to help spur additional flights into the local airport. The newest phase of residences, the Green Homes at the Greenbrier Summit Village, is perched high to yield sweeping valley vistas.
10. Reynolds Plantation
Every great rhythm-and-blues artist wanted to play the Apollo Theater and now every top-tier golf architect wants to design a course at Reynolds Plantation. Pete Dye just signed to craft a new layout with Lake Oconee vistas and an expressly walkable configuration. Tom Fazio, Rees Jones, Jack Nicklaus, Jim Engh and Bob Cupp have also left their marks. The official twentieth anniversary of Reynolds Plantation was celebrated a few months ago. Encompassing ten thousand acres and eighty miles of shoreline, it stays on the leading edge of new ideas.
11. Sea Island
Sea Island, Georgia
The luxury assets and accoutrements that make Sea Island such a superior destination (or domicile) have likewise placed its finances in an awkward condition. From Frederica to Hawkins Island to Kings Point, there should be attractive opportunities for house- and lot-hunters who judge that the property’s eighty-year tradition of excellence will carry it to further success.
The American poet Robinson Jeffers, who built a fieldstone fortress called Tor House out on Carmel Point in the early twentieth century, had a raw-boned artistry that actor-director Clint Eastwood is an indirect hier to. Each has been a voice for preserving important landscapes, Eastwood following through on his declarations by founding Tehama. Along with golf by Jay Morrish (the course plays 6,520 yards, with 200 feet of elevation change), there is a dining venue called Callahan’s, an homage to Dirty Harry. Tehama’s fitness complex, however, is the gleaming antithesis of Frankie Dunn’s Hit Pit in Million Dollar Baby.
13. Creek Ranch
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Merely by nailing up a birdhouse or two a community could lay claim to environmental stewardship. At 3 Creek Ranch, staff naturalist Roger Smith pursues a full-on bird-banding project, enlisting residents as field workers and following protocols created by the Institute for Bird Populations. On the Rees Jones–designed golf course, with its heartbreaking views of valley floor and Teton peaks, a score of one under par is still called a “birdie.”