News & Politics

Tee It Up

Want to walk out your back door and play a Jack Nicklaus course?

A Golfing legend is about to leave his mark locally. A Ritz-Carlton-managed golf community is coming to Northern Virginia with a Jack Nicklaus course.

Many developers make the centerpiece of their community a course designed by one of golf’s leading architects. Others are adding homes around top golf courses already built. With marquee designers like Nicklaus—not to mention Pete Dye and Arnold Palmer—these communities offer excellent golf while meeting a variety of homebuyers’ needs.

Those seeking a vacation home can find communities with marinas, nature trails, and spas. Those looking toward retirement can find villas with first-floor master suites as well as maintenance-free condos. Communities described here vary in size, location, and amenities, but all share some of the best golf in the area right off the back porch.

Creighton Farms (877-300-3338;, a partnership between Ritz-Carlton and Juno Properties, is being developed 37 miles west of DC—and 13 miles from Dulles Airport—in Aldie, Virginia. In addition to the Nicklaus course, the indoor teaching studio will have bay doors that open so golfers can hit on the outdoor range regardless of the weather. Because the lots are so large—between three and seven acres—the homes won’t dominate the course.

Developer Larry Goldman grew up in Rockville but hadn’t lived on the East Coast in years. In the midst of remodeling a home in California, Goldman’s wife discovered Creighton Farms on a trip to DC. “When she saw the property, she wanted me to fly out that day to see it,” he says. “She pretty much told me we were moving there.” Luckily for Goldman, he was equally taken with both the property and the prospect of returning, so they sold the California house: “The land speaks for itself as far as its beauty. Plus, I’m a huge Terps fan.”

There will be no hotel at Creighton Farms, but concierge service can take care of dry cleaning, theater tickets, and dinner reservations. Kids can be taken care of through Ritz Kids Club activities. Creighton Farms guarantees each resident membership in the golf club and use of the fitness center, spa, pools, and dining services.

Thirty of the 180 homesites are on the market, with five custom builders available. Homesites go for $850,000 to $2 million; club membership sold separately.

The Residences at Bulle Rock (410-939-8700; in Havre de Grace sit along Maryland’s number-one public course, a Pete Dye design that’s earned five stars from Golf Digest. Ellen and Chris Kelly of Falls Church bought a vacation home there in 2005. Bulle Rock attracted the pair because of its sociability. Says Ellen, “Living in the DC area, there’s this hustle and bustle, and we thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to be in a place where we can feel relaxed but still be in a community?’ ”

That sociability includes Friday happy hours and clubs organized by interests, such as books and winetasting. A tent is reserved for residents during the LPGA tournament, which Bulle Rock will host for the third time in June. The community center opening next month includes a fitness center offering exercise classes, indoor/outdoor pools, and an Internet cafe. The developers also plan a marina and yacht club. Meanwhile, the Kellys Jet-Ski on a nearby river and enjoy Havre de Grace’s quaint shops and restaurants.

Some 2,000 homes are being developed. All homes have first-floor master suites. Single-family houses start at $450,000 to $800,000, condos $250,000 to $350,000, and villas $300,000 to $500,000.

The Residences at River Marsh (410- 901-2961;, in Cambridge, Maryland, share the property of the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay. Though there’s no direct affiliation with the resort, residents will have access to its Keith Foster golf course, rated number 31 in the world in Condé Nast Traveler’s 2006 resort-golf poll. The 18th hole of River Marsh, inspired by Pebble Beach’s, runs along the Choptank River.

Fred and Terri Gober of Potomac recently bought a townhouse with golf-course and river views. The Gobers have three children, so being on the grounds of a resort with so much to offer was appealing, he says: “You can pull in, park your car, and have everything you need: the beach, golf, restaurants, a full marina.”

Residents also have access to the Hyatt’s spa, tennis courts, and walking trails. Boat slips can be rented from its marina, and in a 15-minute drive is the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, where residents can kayak, hike, and catch glimpses of bald eagles.

The Residences at River Marsh will have just over 600 homes. The first phase of condos and townhouses finishes this fall. Condos will sell for $400,000 to $1 million; townhouses go for $500,000 to $700,000. Single-family houses scattered throughout the course will sell this fall, starting in the upper $700,000s.

Keswick Estates (800-793-5393;, just east of Charlottesville, is built around Keswick Hall resort, which Condé Nast Traveler has rated one of the best places to stay in the world. Golf pro Eric McGraw says the Arnold Palmer course benefits from the estates’ two-acre-minimum lots: “There are so many courses today being built for the real estate. Sometimes that creates the feeling that you’re never really getting away. At Keswick, you may see a house or two, but you never feel like you’re in someone’s backyard.” Because the course was built in the 1930s and redesigned by Palmer, McGraw says, it still has an old feel that many golfers love.

Developed by Orient-Express Hotels, the property will offer residents discounts on such Keswick Hall amenities as the spa, fitness center, and restaurants. In the foothills of the Blue Ridge, residents can make the most of the scenery with horseback riding, whitewater rafting, and fishing. Homeowners have a membership reserved at the club, but those fees are generally not included.

Nearly a third of the 124 lots, which range from $345,000 to $895,000, already have custom houses. Those remaining—some with mountain, lake, and golf-course views—will be ready for homes this summer. Custom homes start at $1.3 million.

Though Ford’s Colony (800-334-6033; in Williamsburg was built more than 20 years ago, new homes and condominiums are being added. Links magazine has rated it among the top 100 US golf communities, and Golf Digest has given its three Dan Maples courses 4½ stars.

Construction of 84 Eaglescliffe condominiums has drawn interest from retirees. Jan and Robert Menig of Arlington had been playing at Ford’s Colony for years, but it was the condos that made them consider buying. Jan, recently retired as a senior Army official, says she was attracted to the maintenance-free aspect: “We want to be able to travel and just close the door. I’m ready for less work, less house, and more golf.”

Ford’s Colony is also known for its restaurants: The dining room has received several “Best of” Awards of Excellence from Wine Spectator. Already large, Ford’s Colony continues to grow: New homesites sell for $125,000 to $1 million, and a large spa is planned. Condos start at $500,000.

Hills Quarter (800-795-2464;, in Virginia’s Northern Neck town of Irvington, is home to the King Carter Golf Club, voted America’s best new affordable public course in January’s Golf Digest. Merry Point Development Company worked with Maryland’s McDonald Design Group to create the course. According to Merry Point’s David Donofrio, double-loaded fairways mean two golf holes between each set of houses: “There’s a privacy element. It’s a better experience for the people playing and for the people living.”

The residents can also enjoy the community center with a pool, tennis courts, and card rooms, all to be completed in May. A winery is in the works, as the ninth hole sits alongside Hills Quarter’s own vineyard.

Merry Point is at work on 500 homesites. Designed for people looking to downsize and retire, the homes range from 1,500 to 2,400 square feet. Both custom and model homes are available, ranging from $275,000 to $450,000.