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America's Top 25 Golf Communities

5. Kiawah Island Kiawah Island, South Carolina

This entire island was purchased for $125,000 in 1951 by a lumberman, whose heirs flipped it twenty-three years later for $18.2 million. Affluent golf lovers have made profits of their own on Kiawah real estate, although continual improvements to the golf and other amenities make this a hard place to leave. With the arrival of the private Kiawah Island Club several years ago, the lifestyle got even finer.

6. Promontory Park City, Utah

The developers of this 7,500-acre mountain masterpiece saddled up and built a cutting-edge equestrian center and have recently doubled their golf amenity to thirty-six holes. For residents, that makes it a bit easier to master basic horsemanship, a skill they can add to their already wide repertoire of golf, fly-fishing, skiing and tennis. And the young folk have it made at Promontory: A five-thousand-square-foot clubhouse is equipped with waterslides, lookout towers, a trapper's cabin and a climbing wall, nurturing their spirit of adventure.

7. The Cliffs Communities Travelers Rest, South Carolina

It was a busy year for the Cliffs and its tireless managers, highlighted by news that the next golf jewel in the Cliffs' crown would be designed by Tiger Woods. Then came word that Clemson University's horticulture department would accept a $250,000 grant from the community to fund new research efforts and create public botanical gardens at the Cliffs at Mountain Park, the newest community in the group.

8. Pronghorn Bend, Oregon

Views of Mount Bachelor—just a twenty-minute drive away—fill the horizon of this thirty-six-hole landmark in the hospitable high desert. A bit ahead of schedule, Pronghorn's imposing clubhouse opened its doors in 2007, with gourmet dining and personal wine storage among its niceties. Fractional owner­ship remains a popular form of investment here—a throw of $200,000 or less secures partial claim on a lodge-style residence with a golf view.

9. Spanish Peaks Big Sky, Montana

This is perhaps the only golf community whose residents are excused for suddenly acquiring twangy accents and buckskin breeches. Fairway-side residences are available (the course, by Tom Weiskopf, opened in 2007), along with your choice of ski-in, ski-out neighborhoods, surrounded by views that qualify as religious experiences. Stone-and-timber buildings clustered together to form the Settlement contain expected facilities like dining, golf shop and locker rooms, but there's also a general store and an outfitter's cabin.

10. 3 Creek Ranch Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Outdoorsy though they may be, 3 Creek Ranchers delighted in last summer's opening of the main clubhouse. Along with giving them a place to store calories (chef Marcel Beauclair arranges that), it offers more ways to burn them, including an ultramodern workout facility, reportedly open twenty-four hours. Various contingents engage in bird banding, astronomy activities and the road-cycling club, and fishing takes place on the property's world-class sporting streams. Rees Jones designed the course, fitting it snugly along the Teton landscape.

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