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America’s Top 100 Golf Communities: The Top 25

14. Estancia

Scottsdale, Arizona

Conditions are finer than ever on the Tom Fazio–designed golf course at prim, private Estancia, following extensive renovations that addressed issues of drainage, inadequate ladies’ tee boxes and overly close encounters with the natural desert environment. This mid-’90s club community was an early example of Tuscan-influenced architecture and building siting.

15. Kuki‘o

Kona, Hawaii

How can you lie there on that sandy beach when molten lava is flowing from the nearest mountain?Turns out volcanic activity only adds spark to the splendid views as Kuki‘o residents gather for sunset cocktails or a sashimi fest in the open-air dining pavilion. Residences tend to comprise main houses, guesthouses, gardens, lanais and pools. The Tom Fazio golf complex includes a ten-hole short course to go along with the championship eighteen-hole layout.

16. Windsor

Vero Beach, Florida

Golf real estate can be a wearying landscape of artificially curved roads and constant four-minute car rides from home to clubhouse to tennis center. At Windsor, a walkable New Urbanist land plan and patrician developer-owners set a more urbane tone. Some of the major common buildings are by trend- setting architects like Leon Krier, Clemens Bruns Schaub and Jaquelin Robertson. At the center of things is a serious art gallery, established by Alannah Weston, daughter of the Windsor founder, Galen Weston. Sporting clays, overseen by gun instructor Count Nikolaus Szapary, lends the place an insouciant, Sonny-and-Klaus sort of atmosphere.

17. Spring Island

Okatie, South Carolina

In Lowcountry argot, “tabby” is a mixture of oyster shells, lime, water and sand used as a concretelike building material. Old Tabby, the Arnold Palmer–designed golf course at Spring Island, takes its name from architectural ruins found in this mystically pretty barrier-island site. A getaway adopted by members of Pine Valley, Augusta National and Cypress Point, the community is known for ingenious methods of repurposing found objects and holding the natural world in a light embrace. Amid the constant nature hikes and plein-air painting workshops, the membership occasionally indulges itself in new toys. Walker Landing, the main recreation area, is about to get a new sports complex complete with fitness center, multiple pools, tennis courts and a new croquet pitch.

18. Silverleaf

Scottsdale, Arizona

The Chinese-born architect Bing Hu did his training down the road from Silverleaf at Taliesin West, the Frank Lloyd Wright school. Hu’s much celebrated H&S International designed the homes in the Sterling Collection, located near DC Ranch’s Market Street and the Silverleaf Club and Spa. A community within a community, Silverleaf is long on aesthetics, pleasing the eye with stucco walls, wrought-iron trim and low-rise tile roofs. It has its own sparkling Tom Weiskopf–designed golf course, or members can angle for an invite at DC Ranch’s John Fought–Tom Lehman layout.

19. Iron Horse

Whitefish, Montana

The compact city of Whitefish sprang to life at the turn of the twentieth century when a Great Northern Railway executive outwitted land speculators who had bid up real estate prices along the presumed route through Flathead Valley. This upscale golf community, with its soaring, timber-frame architecture and Daniel Boone–like wilderness guides, has one of Tom Fazio’s best mountain courses. Whatever your daily adventure—kayaking, backcountry horseback rides and trips through Glacier National Park are all popular—Iron Horse brings it all home every evening with gourmet dining under chef Ken Lyons’ deft touch.

20. Stock Farm

Hamilton, Montana

Just like today’s gated communities, the handsome city of Hamilton was sketched up by professional planners and built in one fell swoop. The work was funded by the Irish-born copper baron Marcus Daly back in the 1890s. Stock Farm residents, whose homesites dot the old Daly spread, turn to Hamilton’s Queen Anne and Romanesque façades when a yearning for urbanity strikes. Mostly, however, people are here to enjoy custom mountain homes with lump-in-the-throat views. A fine Tom Fazio golf course serves dimpled passions while dry-fly fishing, elk hunting and kayaking down the rapids addresses more rugged desires.

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