Our cold Midwest winters aren’t ideal for playing golf. They work well for the Packers, Bears, Lions and Vikings, but not so much for avid golfers. But if you have the desire and wherewithal to escape to warmer climes when frost hits, Midwesterners often choose Florida as their go-to destination. The Sunshine State is covered in golf courses, more than one thousand, and year-round warmth is golf paradise.
Increasingly people are choosing Florida to buy vacation or second homes and join a golf club, often with an eye toward making the state their full-time residence upon retirement. More than 300,000 people move there each year. That, and the fact that 10,000 people turn 65 years old each day – and will every day for the next decade – means there are a lot of people seeking a Florida golf lifestyle in their prime earning and retirement years.
That’s good news for those folks, right? Not always. Unfortunately, too many people lack the time and patience to wade through the roughly 350 golf clubs in Florida and tens of thousands of real estate options. So they settle. Or make hasty decisions. Painfully they discover that they didn’t understand the fine print on their membership agreement, or that their golf community is “bundled” – more on that later – or that their club’s social programs aren’t well aligned to their interests.
This happens frequently, so much so that a company was born directly to help people find ideally suited places for them in Florida. It’s called Golf Life Navigators (GLN), a dream team of PGA Professionals and in-state real estate experts who, free of charge, guide the relocation process to happy endings.
Mark and Lisa Krueger of Milwaukee, Wisconsin used GLN, and it was a game changer for them.
“Golf Life Navigators have comprehensive knowledge of the area, golf and communities,” says Mark Krueger. “Their services are unparalleled and we recommended GLN to many of our Wisconsin friends.”
So how does the process work? GLN clients spend 10-20 minutes answering questions that detail their relocation needs and desires. The experts take it from there. They find golf clubs and real estate properties and communities that meet client “musts” – whether it’s to belong to a club that allows walking during rounds. Or to live in a condo on or near the water. Or to avoid “bundled communities.”
There’s that term again. What does it mean?
“Essentially it means that everyone who buys property in a bundled community becomes members of the golf club,” says GLN President Jason H. Becker, PGA, co-founder of the company. “And that means tee times are often at a premium since there are so many people vying for them. This can be a shock to some people and it’s an example of how we help our clients for life avoid such disappointing outcomes.”
Once GLN has narrowed to a few select clubs or properties that match client mandates, then it’s time for site visits. GLN arranges for its clients to “test drive” the identified clubs. Want to play the course or courses? Check. Dine at the clubhouse restaurant? Certainly. Meet the social director or other members? But, of course.
The reason Golf Life Navigators can provide these crucial services and dedicate so much time to clients – at no charge – is its business model. Florida clubs pay GLN to be among the company’s deep club affiliate roster. They want to court the pre-sorted, pre-screened potential members whose wants and desires match what they offer because these prospects are more likely to join. A savvy investment by all.
“We’ve got great experience, we know the golf clubs and real estate properties intimately,” Becker says. “All we need to know is what you want.”
That approach worked perfectly for Jeff and Pam Rush of Michigan.
“Jason and his team provided us with a list of clubs that fit our criteria as fas as membership cost, travel time, etc. We joined a club after our second visit,” says Pam Rush.
“Some of these people suffer awful outcomes when they go into the relocation process blind, and that can turn what should be one of life’s most pleasant decisions into an enduring nightmare,” he says. “We’re there for them from soup to nuts. We don’t have clients – we have clients for life. We help them find their club, their home or community, we even can point them to the best tax advisors in their area, or the best restaurants or museums. That’s why our company slogan is ‘Finding home never felt better.’ “