For many retirees, the Golden Years shine just a little bit brighter when there’s glimmering golf greens lurking nearby. While golf serves as an excellent pastime for retirees, it can also help create an bustling social life and keep retirees physically active. If your ideal day is spent teeing off on links designed by golf greats like Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Tom Fazio — with stunning backdrops of local scenery — it may well be worth doing a bit of homework and retiring in a golfing hotspot.
Below we’ve listed our 10 picks for the best golf retirement communities. This list is based on the number and quality of golf courses in proximity to a particular town, as well as general quality of life within the region. Grab your clubs and get ready to swing.
Located about 2 hours east of Los Angeles, Palm Springs is an outdoor lovers’ dream. The weather helps the cause: the town enjoys an average 330 days of sunshine annually. All that good weather means retirees can enjoy the region’s vast number of public and private golf courses. T
he Coachella Valley in which Palm Springs is located boasts more golf courses than any other region in the state, and lays claim to being the most popular golf destination in California. The area even plays host to the PGA Tour’s Humana Challenge (formerly the Bob Hope Classic) and the LPGA’s first major of the season, the Kraft Nabisco Championship. Read more about Palm Springs.
Well-heeled Naples may just be the picture postcard of a tony retirement destination. This tiny town along Southwest Florida’s Gulf Coast offers retirees a charming downtown chock full of entertainment, cultural attractions, fine and casual dining, as well as upscale shopping.
Of course, golfers may have found there mecca in this self-proclaimed, “Golf Capital of the World.” With more than 70 golf courses in the immediate region, Naples has become Florida’s premier destination for golfers, and lays claim to having the second most golf holes per capita than any other town in the nation. For decades, the town has hosted state, national and professional tournaments, including the LG Championship(Seniors Tour).
Many retirement communities around Naples are golf course communities, with courses designed by superstars such as Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Arnold Palmer and Arthur Hills. Read more about Palm Springs.
Much to the surprise of some retirees, Orlando isn’t only the magic land of Mickey Mouse and Disney theme parks. With more than 240,000 residents, Orlando is one of Florida’s largest cities, and has attracted a growing number of retirees. With this influx of residents has come a wealth of golf courses as well as golf course developments.
Orlando may truly be heaven on Earth for golfers. The city lays claim to an astonishing 170-plus golf courses and at least 20 golf academies — and those numbers are on the rise. Orlando also hosts some of the sport’s most prestigious golf tournaments. Courses here run the gamut of types and experience levels — all golf lovers will find a spot to happily tee off. Courses here boast designs by icons such as Nicklaus, Dye, and Fazio. Read more about Orlando.
Charleston’s charming streets, Southern charms, extraordinary dining scene and colorful history have been stealing the hearts of visitors for years. More recently, retirees have taken notice of this quaint waterfront town, and put Charleston on the map as one of America’s best retirement destinations.
Charleston and its surrounding towns have an overwhelming number of golf courses on which to play. More than 20 courses with a variety of terrains and experience levels can be found in Charleston, while the small and lovely town of Mt. Pleasant just outside the city has 30 courses. Charleston is also an easy drive from golf havens like Myrtle Beach (90 miles) and Hilton Head Island (110 miles). Read more about Charleston.
Since an ongoing redevelopment revitalized Greenville’s downtown, the neighborhood has regained it’s charm, and become one of the major draws for retirees to the area. Today, the downtown has been recognized by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and is home to a great number of boutique shops and restaurants.
Well over 40 public golf courses can be played within 30 miles of Greenville, making it a convenient destination for retirees who love teeing off. The average temperature in the area is 60 degrees, while skies are sunny 60 percent of the time (on average) — these conditions make golf possible year-round. Read more about Greenville.
Golf enthusiasts can tee off in Pinehurst as often as they choose, with a variety of the world’s best greens at their fingertips. Indeed, a whopping 47 golf courses are found here, including the 8 championship courses at the Pinehurst Resort. Still, the resort’s courses can come at a steep price, with membership prices soaring as high as $40,000.
While golf is undoubtedly the most popular pastime here, the town also offers a well-stocked library, many restaurants (a number of which can be found at the resort), and a community college where retirees may take continuing education classes. Read more about Pinehurst.
Portland has become a bit of a joke in some circles, thanks to the television show “Portlandia,” which pokes fun at the city’s hipster culture. Still, it’s in large part due to that culture that so much of Portland is so interesting and eclectic.
Outdoor enthusiasts will be well-situated in Portland. The city lies in proximity to a surprising number of golf courses, and more than 25 can be found in the county itself. As an added bonus to seniors, some public courses, like the Rose City Golf Course offer discounts to seniors. Two golf courses can be found at Heron Lakes, near the downtown; both are Robert Trent Jones Jr. designs. Additionally Portland’s earliest courses date back as far as 1917 — playing the Eastmoreland Golf Course will be like playing a piece of history. Read more about Portland, OR.
St. George has been widely recognized as a popular retirement enclave, and it’s no surprise that the town has been one of the fastest growing in the nation over the last few years. Tucked into the state’s southwestern corner, the town’s landscape is a jaw-dropper: vistas of red rocks and jagged cliffs with a backdrop of bright, blue sky abound.
The town has become associated with some of Utah’s best golf courses — there are 11 public courses right in St. George. Weather is mild in Utah year-round leaving golfers ample time to hit the greens. Golfers should bring their cameras; St. George’s courses are set in the midst of some of the Southwest’s prettiest scenery, including red rock canyons and black lava rock. Read more about St. George.
Tucson’s spectacular weather — the city sees more than 300 sunny days annually, and enjoys an average high of 82 degrees F — array of cultural events, abundant land for development and proximity to University of Arizona make Tucson a popular retirement destination.
The city’s warm and temperate climate make it a hotspot for golfers, with dozens of courses in proximity to the city. These greens vary from challenging desert terrain to more traditional links, and can accommodate golfers of all experience levels. Many local resorts also boast courses, and often allow non-guests to play. Courses include designs my golf legends such as Robert Trent Jones Jr., Tom Fazio, Tom Weiskopf and Jack Nicklaus. Read more about Tucson.
Retirees will find a number of 55+ communities, as well as most any other style of housing in Austin, with a cost of living that is lower than the national average. Retirees will never want for activities in Austin. They are in proximity to a number of golf courses, a plethora of performance spaces for both theater and music, and a number of universities and colleges offering a variety of continuing education classes.
In recent years the city has been gathering acclaim for its excellent golf. Austin and its environs have mostly temperate weather through a large part of the year, course designs by top-notch players, and a number of low-cost courses. Indeed, for retirees on a budget, the City of Austin operates 5 municipal courses and a short practice course, all offered at an affordable price. Still, there are a many exclusive courses as well as acclaimed resort courses open to non-guests. Read more about Austin.