Wanna buy a golf community? For $33 million, this one could be yours

Central Virginia course and surrounding development have historic ties to a British king and an American president.
Who will be the next steward(s) of Poplar Grove?

AMHERST, Va. - Golf didn't start being played in earnest in the United States until the late 1800s, but that hasn't stopped some courses and clubs from using much earlier dates and symbols to hint at some extra history.

The Greenbrier likes to use 1778 in its general marketing materials, because that was the year its Old White Hotel first opened. And the (Omni) Homestead touts 1766, its founding date, even near its promotion of its golf.

And why not? Might as well use every bit of uniqueness you can to court visitors.

Or, in the case of another Virginia golf course and community, buyers.

Poplar Grove Golf Club is a modern daily-fee golf course incorporated within a residential community. It was laid out by former Tom Fazio associate Ed Carton and opened for play in 2004, has its own 18th-century heritage, using 1773 - the year a charming brick manor house, still standing today, was built - as its foundational year. The course, plus the rest of the nearly 1,000-acre development of the same name, just hit the market for $33 million.

Not only does Poplar Grove have its 18th century manor to recommend it, the tract it sits upon was a land grant by British King George II in the 1730s. Later on, its lands are thought to have been roamed by third United States president Thomas Jefferson, whose famous Monticello estate is about 50 miles south.

But it's a 20th-century golf icon who gives Poplar Grove a measure of distinction: Sam Snead, who grew up a ways west (closer to The Greenbrier and The Homestead, which also claim him as a favorite son) but returned to the area near the end of his life to assist with Poplar Grove's design.

The course (green fees: $96) is challenging but a good bit of fun, set on a characteristic piece of Virginia terrain: hilly and alternatively marked by meadow and forest, as well as some ravines and ponds. Carton had to do some significant earth-moving to get golf onto some parts of the tract, and a couple holes, like the station-to-station par-5 3rd hole, are demanding and a little awkward. But overall it is a scenic setting to play golf in, as I did in April 2008 during my college golf team's conference championship.

Poplar Grove's pro shop is next door to the 18th-century manor house.

I haven't been back since, but I have kept tabs on the place, because my main non-course recollection is that the community was only very gradually being built out. Given that the recession took hold in 2008, little has changed, leaving Poplar Grove relatively lightly developed although, according to its official real estate listing, "[a]ll infrastructure (electric, gas, septic, roads, street lighting and golf maintenance facilities/equipment) is in place." The $33 million price tag seems hefty, especially considering there are several serviceable golf courses available nationwide for $1 million or less, and even a perennial top-100 public course, Bulle Rock, for sale for $3.5 million.

But for the right (read: deep-pocketed) buyer, Poplar Grove could turn out to be a worthwhile venture, especially if one could figure out how to sell a few dozen (or couple hundred, optimistically) lots in short order. The course is coming off a $3 million renovation that touched almost all parts of the golf course, focusing in particular on rebuilding tees, greens and bunkers, plus improved drainage and cart paths.

$33 million is a pretty big ask for a piece of golf real estate, but if you're a wealthy visionary George II/Thomas Jefferson/Sam Snead fanatic, you might be getting the bargain of a lifetime.

Tim Gavrich is a Senior Writer for GolfPass. Follow him on Twitter @TimGavrich and on Instagram @TimGavrich.
6 Comments
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Garbage. Who the F would want to live with a bunch of old farts playing from the gold wussie tees and then hobbling home to their crib on a street next to other old farts.

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if you make it you will 50 years from now

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I would. I do now. It's a blast.

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Commented on

I know a beautiful course in East TN that is about $3 mil.

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I'M very interested, I'M sure an agreement can be reached where by I take possession with the intent that within a legitimate time frame lots are sold and construction is scheduled on 25% of the available properties and 50% of the cash flow is paid to lein holder and 25% goes towards keeping golf going and maintenance and 25% for advertising and expenses.
contact LEO COREY @ lcorey111@aol.com C3 VERTURES

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Would they take a check?

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Wanna buy a golf community? For $33 million, this one could be yours