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Swing or Swim

You can dive into both golfing and swimming at many area golf-course communities

Living on a green fairway is a dream come true for some who live in golf-course communities. But according to studies by the Urban Land Institute, some two-thirds of their neighbors don’t play.

Why do nongolfers choose fairway homes? Some are drawn by a course’s open space and beauty and by the wildlife it attracts. There’s security in knowing that the space beyond the backyard won’t be developed further and that trails in buffer areas will always be available for walking or biking.

Developers also know that couples and families have passions other than golf. One of them is swimming—a good skill for youngsters and a low-impact exercise for all ages. A pool is a place where neighbors gather in a relaxed atmosphere and an amenity that many homebuyers enjoy.

A prime example: Avenel (301-299-5916; avenel.net), a 1,000-acre gated Potomac enclave. The community grew around the PGA-sponsored Tournament Players Club, now known as the TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm, which will reopen this spring after renovations.

Golfers Melanie and Scott Mason are longtime residents. All summer she and their two children are at the Avenel Swim & Tennis Club, where the kids are on the swim team. There’s an outdoor heated six-lane, 25-meter competition pool for team practice, a large freeform leisure pool with a volleyball net and beach entry, and a toddler pool. “The swim club is within walking and biking distance,” says Melanie Mason. “Families also use the pool for birthday parties and social events.”

The 850-home community has 12 neighborhoods that Nancy Itteilag, an Avenel homeowner and a real-estate agent, describes as diverse. Resale prices range from $1 million for townhouses to more than $4 million for 15,000-square-foot houses on two acres.

The story of Avenel is repeated throughout the suburbs. Here’s a sampler of neighborhoods old and new, with commutes ranging from 25 to 90 minutes.

In Upper Marlboro, the new Lake Presidential Golf Club (301-627-8577; lakepresidential.com) and Beechtree community (beechtreemd.com) are ten minutes from the Beltway. Last year Golfweek magazine named Lake Presidential one of America’s top 25 new courses. The layout rambles through mature forests in the 1,200-acre community and around a 30-acre lake.

Plans for Beechtree include 1,680 houses, 720 condos and townhouses, and $30 million in amenities such as the Beechtree Swim & Racquet Club, to be built when the community has about 2,000 families in residence. Townhouses are selling in the low $300,000s, single-family homes in the upper $300,000s.

Also in Upper Marlboro, the new Oak Creek community has a course designed by Ault, Clark & Associates and plans for a clubhouse with extensive swimming and tennis facilities. In Mitchellville is the well-established community of Woodmore, where country-club members enjoy an Arnold Palmer layout ranked among the Mid-Atlantic’s top ten by Golf Digest and an outdoor swim complex.

Less than 40 miles west of DC are five golf communities within a five-mile radius of Haymarket, according to Realty Direct agent Konnie McKee, who says prices range from $229,000 for townhouses to $1 million and up for houses on large lots.

One community is the 1,500-home Heritage Hunt Golf and Country Club (703-743-1000; heritagehuntgolf.com) in Gainesville, named the country’s best active-adult community in 2001 by the National Council on Senior Housing. On 750 acres, it has a private Arthur Hills course, three clubhouses, a large outdoor pool, and a fitness center with pool.

Tracy Sampogna teaches aquatic exercise and therapy classes and does aquatic massage in the indoor pool, which has three lap lanes and an area for classes and water walking. “In chest-deep water, your body weight is reduced to 60 to 80 percent, so you can move much more freely,” says Sampogna. “A lot of our residents have joint replacements, and therapy done in water facilitates faster healing—plus it feels good.”

Barbara and Tom Kenefake moved from Fairfax eight years ago “because we wanted to stay in the Washington area and wanted a place with an indoor pool,” says Barbara. She swims a half mile, walks, and stretches in the pool three mornings a week: “I’ve had a lot of back and neck trouble and have been swimming for more than 20 years because of that.” Tom golfs in warm weather and uses the fitness center almost every day in winter—lifting weights, swimming laps.

Nearby is Dominion Valley Country Club (703-753-8655; dominionvalley.com), a gated Toll Brothers development with an Arnold Palmer course and outdoor swimming pools for competition and leisure. Within the enclave is Regency at Dominion Valley (703-753-8900; regencydominionvalley.com), an active-adult community with a Palmer course, a clubhouse, and two pools.

Jim Hardy and his wife were the first to build in Regency, which at 653 houses is almost complete. “Many members at the Dominion Valley Country Club across the street like to play here,” he says. “Our men’s golf association, which plays in tournaments on regular courses, won the Virginia Senior Golf Association championship last year.”

The full development has five pools and the Dominion Valley Sharks swim team. A new fitness facility with an indoor pool is planned for 2011.

Regency’s indoor pool is the reason Elizabeth and Charles Coughlin chose to live there. “I swim at least four days a week with friends,” says Elizabeth. “There are organized swim classes—water aerobics and fitness—and we also have an informal group headed by a neurosurgeon for anyone with medical concerns.” The outdoor pool, surrounded by a patio with reclining chairs and umbrella tables, is a great place to socialize in summer, she adds.

Nearby, the gated Piedmont community (703-753-7404; piedlink.org) centers on the Piedmont Club (703-753-5922; clubcorp.com) and a Tom Fazio layout with views of Little Bull Run Creek and the Blue Ridge Mountains. About 1,600 homes are built. Separate from the clubhouse is a rec center with exercise facilities, two outdoor pools—one 25 meters long with seven lap lanes—and a 25-meter indoor pool with four lap lanes.

Morning aerobics classes are held in the indoor pool concurrent with lap swimming, says assistant manager Linda Heston: “The Piedmont Tsunamis use the indoor pool for practice after school, there are lessons year-round, and the board has just approved an infant swim program, one-on-one with a certified instructor.”

In Leesburg, Lansdowne on the Potomac (571-333-1212; lansdownehoa.com) has 1,442 houses and 713 townhouses. Prices range from the $200,000s to more than $1 million. At its heart are the Lansdowne Resort and the private Golf Club at Lansdowne, with 18-hole courses designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. and Greg Norman and a nine-hole Norman design for juniors and families. Members and resort guests also enjoy an aquatic complex with five pools, including a heated indoor lap pool.

John Whitbeck, president of the homeowners association, says some Lansdowne residents belong to a club that uses the resort facilities, “but many prefer our own private Potomac Club, which has one indoor pool and two outdoor. We offer swimming lessons year-round.” The Lansdowne Lightning team, with more than 120 members, uses two of the three pools.

Not far from Lansdowne is the Lowes Island Club (703-444-4801; lowesisland.com) in Potomac Falls. Architect Tom Fazio is to revamp the two 18-hole courses—original designs by Fazio and Arthur Hills—on what’s now the Trump National Golf Club, Washington, DC.

Many nongolfing residents of the 2,500-acre Potomac Falls & Lowes Island community (lowesisland.com) maintain club memberships for the use of the restaurants, outdoor pool complex, year-round tennis facilities, and exercise center. Condos range from $125,000 to the $400,000s, single-family homes from the upper $300,000s to more than $1 million.

Avid Washington-area golfers might commute 90 minutes to live on Maryland’s top public course, Bulle Rock Golf (410-939-8887; bullerockgolf.com) in Havre de Grace, just off Interstate 95. More than a few nongolfers have been drawn to the Residences at Bulle Rock (410-939-8700; bullerockresorthomes.com). Pete Dye’s design is home to the McDonald’s LPGA Championship. Surrounding the course will be 2,200 houses and condos. House prices range from $300,000 to $800,000; all of the condos are sold.

Gwyeneth and Luigi Stamegna have owned at Bulle Rock for 2½ years. She works in Baltimore, he in DC. They live in Linthicum and drive most weekends to Bulle Rock, which may become their retirement home. “The amenities sold us,” says Gwen. “We don’t play golf, but we entertain friends and business associates who do. Luigi swims laps in the indoor pool while I sit in the Jacuzzi and watch. In the summer, we spend every weekend at the outdoor pool.”

Luigi had a hip replacement eight years ago—another reason to use the pool because he can’t run. “A lot more people are using the pool to work out than just splash around,” he says.

All are great places to raise the next Tiger Woods or Michael Phelps or to stay fit with a combination of golf and swimming.

This article first appeared in the April 2009 issue of The Washingtonian. For more articles from that issue, click here.

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