The Sunland Golf Course in the beautiful community of Sunland in Sequim, Washington has been one of the great attractions to Sequim and especially to the avid golfers who have purchased homes in Sunland.  Over 80% of homeowners in Sunland are not members of the Sunland Golf Club, but part of the appeal of the community is the beauty that the greens add for all homeowners.  But potential buyers have been asking questions for at least a year, like “What’s going on with the Golf Course?  What about the homeowners?  Are they going to assess homeowners $300 a year to help the golf course, and is that going to increase or what?  If the golf course closes, what’s going to happen to the greens?  Who is going to mow the grass, or is it going to grow unattended, or are they going to sell the land and have lots of houses built?”

A year and a half ago I wrote about the Sunland Golf Course issues, “Facts, assumptions, and perceptions are getting entangled.  Rumors are flying about what would or could or might happen.  The elderly on limited pensions are feeling pressured to participate even though some widows have expressed their financial inability.”

This is not just a local topic of conversation.  Nationally golf courses have been hit hard by the recession, and most golfers around the country know this.  A recent article in the online Statesman shared, “The National Golf Foundation this week released its report for 2010 that tracked course openings and closings by state, region and nation. The report found 46 18-hole equivalent course openings against 107 closures for a net loss of 61 such equivalents.”

Buyers have been asking me, and I’m sure many other Sequim real estate agents, “What’s the update on the Sequim Golf Course?”  After some phone calls and emails, here’s what I’m being told by the Homeowners’ Association and homeowners:  Nothing has changed.  The Sequim Golf Course Manager, Tyler Sweet, was kind enough to share an update with me.  He said, “The proposal from Sunland Golf & CC to SLOA was dropped over a year ago. Never once did SG&CC mention bankruptcy as an option, however your website did mention it.  SG&CC has a balanced budget for the 2011 & 2012 season and looks forward to providing  both social and golfing memberships along with weekend public tee times for years to come.”

This is good news, and it would seem to me from this information that the issues of the Sunland Golf Course financial concerns (if there were any) and any concerns that homeowner assessments for non-golfers would go up to assist the Golf Course are history.  There is no evidence of a persuasive nature that prospective buyers need to be concerned about the financial health of the Sunland Golf Course.  While I have no inside knowledge of the financial health of the golf course, I take the Golf Course Manager at his word that the Club is doing well and, “looks forward to providing  both social and golfing memberships along with weekend public tee times for years to come.”

There are two things I would add to this discussion.  The first is that this whole thing has been a public relations disaster for the Sunland Golf Course and for the community of Sunland.  This is obvious I know.  Something like this can cause so many hurt feelings in the community, so much ill-will, and we all know that issues like this that affect so many people (844 Sunland residents and all the homeowners in Sunland who have had their homes for sale and the prospective buyers) develop a life of their own that can take years to slowly fade away.  The art of public relations addresses potentially difficult issues proactively, rather than let them get out of control and cause far more problems than the original concern.  Public relations involves knowing when there may be a hot issue, understanding human behavior (and when an issue may adversely affect people), understanding effective sales and marketing (presenting facts and issues with a positive perspective), and knowing how to be persuasive with humility.  Honesty is always the best policy.  We’ve all seen politicians violate these values and principles and end up resigning even though the original transgression would have been forgiven.

Unfortunately, when many keep saying, “nothing has changed,” that does nothing to allay the fears of potential buyers, and the real people who get hurt are the Sunland residents who have been trying to sell their homes.  In a real estate recession, it doesn’t take much to scare buyers away.  Any uncertainty about the future of the Sunland Golf Course can scare buyers away.  It seems to me that there still is no one on top of public relations here.  PR is an important part of promoting any community or golf club.  Neither the Club nor the homeowners’ association have taken up the obvious need for a PR campaign on this whole subject.  That’s too bad.  Perhaps I’m the only one doing that by suggesting that this whole issue is behind us.

Home sales in Sunland have dropped substantially, and only three homes in Sunland have sold in the first six months of this calendar year (2011) according to data from the Olympic Listing Service.  I would not blame this on the Golf Course issues, but buyers have raised these issues every time I’ve shown a home in Sunland, and I was not the one to bring the issue up first.  Buyers learned by talking to other people.

Sunland Golf Course

In my opinion this is a good time to buy a home in Sunland.  As of this writing, there are 43 homes listed for sale in Sunland and all its divisions.  You can go to this link and see all the Sunland Homes for Sale.

Here is a graphic showing how many homes have sold in Sunland each calendar year since 1998, and even though only 3 homes have sold during the first 6 months of 2011, I am projecting that 9 homes will sell this year.  One might think we should just double the 3 since we are halfway through the year, but the best selling months are ahead of us, so 9 is a realistic number.  It may go higher to 12, and that would be good, but these numbers are not a great encouragement to Sunland homeowners trying to sell in this recession.  [Click on this image to enlarge it.]

Sunland Homes for Sale

I have been telling buyers for the last year that they do not need to be concerned.  I continue to tell buyers that, and I am saying it again here.  The Sunland community continues to be one of the most beautiful little communities in the entire Sequim area on the Olympic Peninsula, and if you’re an avid golf enthusiast, you could not find a better opportunity than now to buy a home in Sunland in this incredible buyer’s market.  The golf course is gorgeous and well maintained–there’s never been a doubt about that.

Read another updated article about the Sequim Golf Course Financial Issues with comments.

You can learn more about the course at Sunland Golf Course, and you can read more about the community at Sunland Homeowners Association.  I hope this article about the Sunland Golf Course has been helpful.

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