Live where you play in golf par­adise

Desert Moun­tain, Ariz., seen as largest pri­vate coun­try club on con­ti­nent

Calgary Herald New Condos - - New Condos - BARB LIV­ING­STONE

SCOTTS­DALE, Ariz. — It is a golf lover’s ver­sion of par­adise.

Six cham­pion Jack Nick­laus­de­signed golf cour­ses, a state-ofthe-art golf per­for­mance cen­tre that can ei­ther start you on the path to golf or im­prove your ex­ist­ing game, mod­ern club­houses with top notch and var­ied restau­rants … and, oh yes, the op­por­tu­nity to live where you play.

Desert Moun­tain, in the far north end of Scotts­dale, is a 3,200-hectare res­i­den­tial com­mu­nity first es­tab­lished in 1986 when de­vel­oper Lyle An­der­son, with his part­ners, bought up eight ranches in the area around Care­free, Ariz., ad­ja­cent to the Tonto Na­tional For­est.

What now ex­ists is the largest pri­vate coun­try club in North Amer­ica — pos­si­bly in the world — and one that was pur­chased by its mem­bers in 2011.

The golf cour­ses, and the com­mu­nity that sur­rounds them, re­flect the Sono­ran desert, stud­ded with nat­u­ral cacti like the gi­ant saguaros.

There’s also wildlife such as the javeli­nas (hoofed mam­mals that look like wild pigs) that can be seen roam­ing the golf cour­ses at night, and the stun­ning Con­ti­nen­tal Moun­tain Range that is blan­keted with sun­sets in the evening.

There are about 1,660 com­pleted homes out of the to­tal 2,426 prop­er­ties. More than 100 are cur­rently un­der con­struc­tion (new or re­model) and/or in de­sign re­view.

The avail­able prop­er­ties are pep­pered around the 27 “vil­lages” at the devel­op­ment.

There are about 187 listed homes rang­ing from Sono­ran Cot­tages at $555,000 US (golf eq­uity mem­ber­ship in­cluded) at 2,234 square feet to a Saguaro For­est cus­tom spec home listed at $8.9 mil­lion for 11,800 square feet.

Along with re­sale op­por­tu­ni­ties there are 119 cus­tom es­tate lots listed, rang­ing from $95,000 for about 20,484 square feet of land to one listed for $1.97 mil­lion for 137,126 square feet (about 0.24 hectares, or three acres) of prop­erty.

“Lot val­ues are go­ing to be ris­ing as there will never be an­other Desert Moun­tain,” says Don Brei­den­bach, man­ag­ing bro­ker of Sotheby’s In­ter­na­tional at Desert Moun­tain.

“We won’t see the eco­nomic cli­mate where you can buy 8,000 acres (3,200 hectares) and build six golf cour­ses. You can’t get the land, and if you could, you couldn’t af­ford it.”

And while golf is ob­vi­ously a ma­jor fo­cus at Desert Moun­tain, Bob Jones, chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer/ gen­eral man­ager of the club, says it is def­i­nitely not the only one.

“We have devel­oped the bal­ance of other things that make it more of a stay­ca­tion. It is a life­style you buy.”

While the orig­i­nal av­er­age age of mem­bers at Desert Moun­tain used to be 62, Jones says that av­er­age dropped in 2007 to 2008 to 52 or 53, an age when many still have chil­dren who also want other things to do than golf. Those other things in­clude: pri­vate hik­ing trails that will even­tu­ally en­com­pass 24 kilo­me­tres through­out the devel­op­ment; a nine-court ten­nis com­plex fea­tur­ing hard, clay and grass courts; 19,000-square­foot fit­ness cen­tre re­cently ren­o­vated for $1.9 mil­lion, with car­dio and weight train­ing equip­ment, group ex­er­cise classes, per­sonal train­ing, and a spa; youth ac­tiv­ity cen­tre; three swim­ming pools; a dog park; and an on-site concierge.

Among homeowners from about 16 coun­tries seek­ing the Desert Moun­tain life­style are Ca-

C MVisit our web­site un­der the head­ing, ‘Rec Prop­er­ties,’ for more pho­tos and sto­ries. na­di­ans, par­tic­u­larly Al­ber­tans, who took ad­van­tage of the drop in prop­erty val­ues dur­ing the re­ces­sion in 2008.

To­day, there are 88 Cana­dian mem­bers at Desert Moun­tain, al­most half of those from Al­berta and the ma­jor­ity of Al­ber­tans are from the Cal­gary area.

The sec­ond strong­est province of buy­ers is On­tario, which has tra­di­tion­ally bought sec­ond homes in Florida.

Jacques Ahs­mann, a 66-yearold re­tired busi­ness­man from Cal­gary, says life­style was be­hind the pur­chase of the Desert Moun­tain home he bought with his wife sev­eral years ago.

While he had been coming to golf in the Phoenix area for a decade with his brother-in-law, the fam­ily had al­ways seen Hawaii as the place for any sec­ond home.

Then, one year when his mother-in-law died in the Nether­lands, they were un­able to get back to that coun­try promptly.

“We couldn’t get off the is­land and we didn’t ar­rive till 50 hours later.”

In Phoenix, he says, there are about eight flights a day that will get him from Phoenix to Cal­gary in less than three hours.

Still, he says it took him some time to find the right place. Then some­one sug­gested Desert Moun­tain, say­ing Ahs­mann needed to “buy your­self a life­style.”

Ahs­mann says he knew Desert Moun­tain was the right one the minute he drove in. “It is a unique place.” While he hasn’t played golf for over a year be­cause of a torn mus­cle, he plays “ag­gres­sive ten­nis” ev­ery day, hikes, swims and his wife adds yoga and Pi­lates to the cou­ple’s list of in­ter­ests.

Bud­get­ing

And while Ari­zona doesn’t have the ocean of Hawaii, Ahs­mann says the desert “grows on you. I love the cli­mate, the na­ture, we can see the val­ley and the moun­tains and even on a cooler day in win­ter, the sun comes out.”

In fact, he has be­come such an ad­vo­cate for the area, at least five vis­i­tors to his home have also bought in Desert Moun­tain.

“You just don’t ever have to leave here to have a good time.”

Desert Moun­tain

Ever won­dered what a place where you can golf year-round looks like? The club­house at the Cochise golf course, above, at Desert Moun­tain in Scotts­dale, Ariz.

Pho­tos, Desert Moun­taiin

A golfer’s par­adise, in­deed. A water haz­ard on the Cochise golf course at Desert Moun­tain mir­rors the deep blue Ari­zona sky.

Pools and ten­nis courts are among the ameni­ties snow­birds get to en­joy at the devel­op­ment.

A golfer works on his swing in the warm desert sun­shine.

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