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The Villages
Sunday, January 16, 2022

Golf fee hike latest example of greedy Developer taking Villagers’ hard-earned dollars

Villagers golfers are being forced to ring in the new year with the Morse family’s hands in their wallets.

That’s because the cost to play 18 holes at any of the 12 Championship Courses in The Villages is taking a significant jump on Jan. 1. In some instances, greens fees will increase by as much $48 to play 18 holes – an increase that we consider ludicrous at best. In other cases, the increases will be smaller, but you can be rest assured that if you enjoy spending time on the links, your cash supply is going to be lighter.

Golfers at Belle Glade Championship Course in August.

There are many issues tied to the new rate schedule that should anger and annoy golfers across the community. For starters, it eliminates the varying price structures for playing at different times of the day. So those who have factored those discounts into their budgets can just wipe them back out, because now it’s one price to play, regardless of the time of day.

The new rate schedule identifies the priciest courses as Palmer Legends, Cane Garden, Mallory Hill, Havana, Bonifay, Evans Prairie, Belle Glade and Tierra Del Sol, which is an addition to the upper-echelon pricing group for 2020. The mid-range-priced courses are Hacienda Hills, Glenview Champions and Lopez Legacy. And in what should be a disturbing statement to golfers who live on the Historic Side of The Villages, Orange Blossom Hills has been deemed as the cheap place to play golf in The Villages.

If you’re wondering what the new fee structure looks like, you can see it by clicking HERE. You also can view the current fee breakdown by clicking HERE. But know this before you click – you probably aren’t going to like what you see.

The Waterfront Inn as seen from Palmer Legends Golf Course.

As most Villagers know, there are several categories – priority member, resident member, priority guest, resident guest and non-resident – golfers can fall into to determine how much they’ll pay to play. But’s here’s a quick range of what the rates will be at each championship course beginning New Year’s Day:

  • Palmer Legends, Cane Garden, Mallory Hill, Havana, Bonifay, Evans Prairie, Belle Glade and Tierra Del Sol: $47-$84.
  • Hacienda Hills, Glenview Champions and Lopez Legacy: $41-$78.
  • Orange Blossom Hills: $33-$70.

Villagers will soon find out that many of those numbers shown above represent double-digit percentage increases in the cost to play golf. For instance, if you enjoyed playing in the evenings at Palmer Legends, Cane Garden, Mallory Hill, Havana, Bonifay, Evans Prairie or Belle Glade, you’re facing a whopping 75 percent increase over the current evening wave price. For those of you who enjoy math, it will soon cost you $64 versus the current rate of $16.

Those who enjoy playing Hacienda Hills, Glenview Champions and Lopez Legacy during the morning hours will see a 34.5 percent increase to the fee they pay – $38 versus $58. Likewise, residents who play Orange Blossom Hills on the Historic side, where an older population lives with many on fixed incomes, will see their greens fee jump to $50, which equates to percentage increases of 36, 48 and 76, depending on the time of you day you have been playing in the past.

Harold Schwartz and H. Gary Morse

If you think about it, this latest money grab into the pockets of golfers is just one more piece of the disgusting state of affairs Villagers have had to endure this year from the Morse Millennials – the first generation of the Developer’s family who hasn’t had to work for it. Some of the others include:

Rita’s Cocina Mexicana food truck was dispatched to the new section of The Villages and caught the attention of a health inspector. Food trucks appear to be one of the many ways the Developer is cutting back while finding ways to make residents pay more of their hard-earned dollars into his coffers.

Unfortunately, we don’t think the increase in golf fees will be the last one we’ll see. We knew when the Developer took the golf division back under his wing late last year that Villagers were in for something bad. And now we know that it’s outrageous fee increases that probably will turn some Villagers away from the game.

Of course, we believe the Developer has a much bigger motive in mind in this debacle. It’s a known fact that golf’s popularity is waning across the rest of the United States, so it should come as no surprise that smaller, 9-hole executive courses seem to be on the Developer’s radar more and more. And that said, don’t be shocked if it ends up being “what you see is what you’ve got” when it comes to championship courses.

Harbor Hills Country Club in Lady Lake will offer Villagers an alternative to paying higher fees to play golf in their own community.

Luckily, Villages golfers have alternatives. There are many high-quality courses in the tri-county area that offer competitive rates that fall way below the fee schedule Villagers golfers are about to face. Many of those facilities, like the courses at Harbor Hills, Spruce Creek South and Del Webb Spruce Creek, are quite nice. And if Villagers take their business to those courses instead of handing over their hard-earned cash to the greedy Developer, you can bet some of this constant nickel-and-diming will finally end.

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