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Golf Getaways

Luxurious homes, spectacular spas and the privileges of a private sanctuary add spice to golf vacations
Jeff Williams
From the Print Edition:
Francis Ford Coppola, Sept/Oct 03

(continued from page 1)

"We've been fortunate to be part of an incredible real estate market," says Gray. "We have given people a chance to be part of an irreplaceable, timeless community. We have given them a chance to be part of history and to create something that will be a cherished family heirloom. More than 100 years from now, there will be members of the same families who will look around here and say, 'What an incredible place this is.' "

Golf had to be part of this landscape. The course by architect Tom Fazio takes up 354 acres that flow seamlessly through the immense habitat. It takes advantage of streams, trees and elevation changes, all the elements necessary for a world-class golf course. "It really is a mind-boggling piece of property," says Fazio. "You just seem to have the world to yourself here."

From the opening tee shot to the perfectly framed fairway and green below, through the meadows and along the shoulders of the muscular, wooded hills, the course is both a test of golf and a journey. With all sorts of bird life and deer, the course is more like a game preserve with some patches of grass mowed very short with a hole in the middle of them.

"The kind of people who want to be part of this are the kind of people who like to play golf," says Gray. "We did a market study that determined that 30 percent of the people who might want to buy here wouldn't do so without a golf course. We made sure that the course had as little [environmental] impact as possible, while having Tom create for us a really special course."

There are 300 golf memberships selling for $150,000 each; home ownership is not a prerequisite for membership. There is also the Ranch Club, which revolves around the old hacienda on the property and includes equestrian and swimming facilities, and more than 100 miles of trails.

"My passion," says Gray, "is to keep this land in its natural state. So many of the great ranches of California were broken up piecemeal with no respect to the landscape and that leads to the deterioration of the land. It's our goal here not to let that happen."

From his first sighting of the land in 1989 to the successful completion of a land plan that allowed development to begin in 1998, Gray knew he was dealing with a special place. "Something like this could be viewed as a giant act of stupidity, but when it's successful it's a leap of faith," says Gray.

Lajitas, Texas

Lajitas calls itself the ultimate hideout. It is certainly "out" there, more than 200 miles from the closest town. It's far away from the country's urban centers yet close enough to be accessed comfortably by private jet, which is why Lajitas has its own airport.

When you are in far west Texas, in the Big Bend area of the Rio Grande River, and you are trying to attract a clientele used to convenience and elegance, an airport is more than just an amenity. And for those without a private plane, Lajitas offers a fleet of jets that will transport you from several Texas airports.

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