Multi-Millionaire Golfers Flocking to Cities?

For years, wishing thinking planners and others have imagined a “return to the city.” Of course, one cannot return to where they have never lived, so the whole concept was flawed from the beginning. While the suburbs did less well than before a few years of the Great Financial Crisis and its aftermath, they have experienced a steady increase in net domestic migration in more recent years. In 2017, suburban counties of the major metropolitan areas gained nearly 700,000 more net domestic migrants than core counties, up from a low of 120,000 in 2012. Overall, domestic migration to the suburbs was 2.8 million more to the suburban counties than the core counties between 2010 and 2017. William Frey, writing in The Avenue for the Brookings Institution, effectively analyses the trends (see: “US population disperses to suburbs, exurbs, rural areas, and ‘middle of the country’ metros”).

But not everyone is moving to the suburbs. The Wall Street Journal reports that rich golfers in Charlotte are moving from their houses adjacent to suburban golf courses to “thriving urban neighborhoods” (See: “In Charlotte, Golfers Are Leaving Gated Communities for Hipper Urban Neighborhoods: Many homeowners in the North Carolina city are fleeing developments built around courses for thriving urban areas that are close enough to links”). The article indicates similar trends elsewhere, but its anecdotes relate only to Charlotte. Moreover, the houses discussed are a bit pricey, from $1.5 to $3 million, well above the median house price of under $250,000.

But lest any should think that the pack and stack densities sought by planners will be achieved by attracting multi-millionaire golfers, there are two reasons for caution. (1) There are not enough of them. (2) The number of golfers in the nation is declining --- down seven percent in just five years.