Golf was invented around the 14th century. It is shocking to think that, for hundreds of years, golfers actually walked from hole to hole. The earliest version of a golf cart wasn’t invented until the 1930s. By the 1950s, there were only an estimated 1,000 carts in use, mainly by golfers with disabilities. The popularity of carts took off in the 1960s, and by the end of that decade, the US had over 120,000 golf carts and they were accepted on 92% of golf courses.
Of course, golf cart usage continued to grow. Today, there are at least 2 million golf carts being used in America. In 2020, there were 120,000 carts purchased, adding up to a total of $1.5 billion in retail sales. Interestingly, only 10% of those sales are believed to have been sold to people who actually want to use it on a golf course.
So where are 90% of all golf cart sales going if not to golfers? The answer is: To the sunny streets of retirement communities.
What is a Golf Cart Retirement Community?
A golf cart retirement community is simply any retirement community that allows its residents to use golf carts to move around for day-to-day activities. There are some communities that only allow golf carts on their streets, while others offer carts separate pathways for safe travel.
In Pennsylvania, you know you are in Amish country when you see horse hitching posts outside of the local stores. Well, you know you are in a golf cart community when you see special golf cart parking places outside of the local stores.
There are some differences between a “golf cart community” versus a “community that allows golf carts”. In a true golf cart community, the golf carts have become a part of the identity of that community. In other words, anyone that moves there should plan to buy a golf cart and use it for everything.
And a true golf cart community has everything a senior needs within a cart drive: shopping, entertainment, restaurants, gym, recreation, pharmacists, doctors, and more.
Golf carts are simple, quiet, and slow-moving; characteristics that also reflect the retirement communities they traverse. You will find most golf cart communities exist where the weather is great, so driving a cart gives a resident more time in the outdoors. Carts are easy to drive, cheap to maintain, and just plain fun to ride around in.
For this article, we will be focusing on the golf cart communities of sunny South Carolina.
South Carolina Golf Cart Regulations
The South Carolina Department of Public Safety provides the following Golf Cart Law information:
- The golf car must be insured, permitted, and registered with SCDMV
- The golf cart must remain within 4 miles of your home, where it is legal to drive.
- The golf cart may be operated on roads with posted speeds of less than 35 mph only.
- The golf cart may be operated during daylight hours only.
- The driver must be at least 16 years old with a valid driver’s license.
7 Golf Cart Retirement Communities in South Carolina
South Carolina is home to hundreds of golf courses, some of which are world-renown. This makes golf cart communities a natural fit for the South Carolina area. Below are 7 South Carolina golf cart retirement communities that are worth taking a look at if you are thinking of retiring to The Palmetto State.
Note: There are communities out there that are golf cart-friendly without any age restrictions. But for this article, we will be focusing on only golf cart retirement (a.k.a 55+) communities.
Most of these 55+ communities are very similar to each other. Rather than repeating the list of amenities for each, we will say that each of these retirement communities has the following amenities:
- Golf courses
- Community center, social clubs
- Fitness centers
- Grocery store
- Low maintenance living
- Gates and 24-hour security
1. Sun City Hilton Head in Bluffton, SC
Sun City Hilton Head is the most populated 55+ community in South Carolina, covering 5,000 acres with 16K residents. It is located just west of the beaches in Hilton Head and northeast of historic Savanah. Homes are 1,000 – 3,700 square feet in size, and prices range from $200K-$390K+.
The community has earned top rankings across both the state and nation:
- The Best-Selling 55+ Communities in South Carolina
- The Most Popular 55+ Communities in South Carolina,
- The 55 Best 55+ Communities (in the nation)
2. Dataw Island Near Beaufort, SC
This 1,000-home community is on an 870-acre island that borders the Atlantic Ocean. Dataw has its own marina, providing boat access to deep oceans and the nearby rivers. The island has four miles of beach and a 5,000-acre maritime forest.
Home sizes range from 1,600 to 7,500 square feet. These are luxury homes with luxury price tags ranging from $450K to $3M. Empty lots are still available at prices of $75K-$150K.
Awards for this community include:
- “Top 100 Amenity Communities” – ideal-LIVING Magazine
- “Best in Value Golf Community” – Links Magazine
- “Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary” – The Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses
- Real Estate Scorecard 96 out of 100
- 2017 2017 Bliss Award for Best South Carolina Community of the Year
Note, being on an island on the South Carolina coast puts residents at risk of catastrophic hurricane damage. The island had a near-miss in 2016 with Hurricane Matthew.
3. Sun City Carolina Lakes Near Charlotte, NC
For those looking to get away from the coast, Sun City Carolina Lakes is in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, just 5 miles from the North Carolina border and the town limits of Charlotte, NC. This community has 3K homes and 5K residents spread across its 1,512 acres. Houses range in size from 1K to 3K square feet, with prices ranging from $250K to $650K.
Residents may be away from the coast, but they still get to enjoy water activities as the community has 10 lakes within its borders. For those looking to enjoy city life, the large city of Charlotte is just 30-minutes away including its award-winning hospital and major airport.
The community advertises itself as being a golf cart community.
IS SUN CITY A GOLF CART COMMUNITY?
Yes. You can travel by golf cart to any home in the community, the supermarket, doctors’ offices, restaurants, and many other places of business. Our main boulevards also feature the safety of dedicated golf cart lanes.
In 2016, the town ranked #6 in the “100 Most Popular 55+ Communities for 2016”.
4. Cresswind at Market Common in Myrtle Beach
Cresswind is built on the 114-acre tract of the former Myrtle Beach Air Force Base. The community advertises itself as an urban village and is great for anyone looking to make frequent enjoyment of a city like Myrtle Beach. Residents enjoy a short golf cart ride to the beaches, as well as world-class dining and shopping.
House sizes range from 1400 to 2500 square feet, at prices between $250K and $350K.
Awards for this community include:
- Named one of the top 50 Best Master-Planned Communities in the United States by Where to Retire magazine
- Ranked as the best-selling active adult community in Myrtle Beach in 2015
5. Overture Daniel Island in Charleston, SC
Retirees looking to lease instead of buy should take a look at Daniel Island. Daniel Island is a 4,000-acreMountainsocated in Charleston. The island is a recently built planned community designed for families of all ages. Inside of the Daniel Island community is the 55+ Overture apartment complex. There are just 197 units in the active adult complex, with rent ranging from $1,675 – $3,005 per month.
Residents enjoy easy access to Downtown Daniel Island, Downtown Charleston, and plenty of access to local waterways.
As a whole, the Daniel Island community has received many accolades:
- Urban Land Institute Award for Excellence
- 20 Best Places to Live on the Coast
- America’s Best Suburban Smart Growth Community
- America’s Best Master-Planned Communities
- America’s Best Golf Course Communities
- Outstanding Project Award
- Community Design – Best of State
6. Del Webb at Cane Bay in Summerville, SC
The 360 acres of this community is located on the northern edge of Charleston, 25 miles from downtown. The 1,000 houses range in size from 1,100 to 2,700 square feet, and prices range from $250K to $490K.
Recent awards for this community include:
- 2020 Top 100 list of Most Popular Active Adult Communities
- 2020 Charleston’s Choice WINNER for Best Active Lifestyle Community in Charleston
7. Keowee Key in Salem, SC
Lastly, folks looking to retire in the mountains should take a look at Keowee Key, which is in the very northwest of South Carolina, in the Blue Ridge Mountains. This 1,600-acre community is on a peninsula, surrounded on three sides by the 18,500 acres Keowee Lake. This community may be in the mountains, but water activities are plentiful along the 300 miles of shoreline. Keowee Key has 5 community dock locations with a total of 32 boat slips.
The community was recently awarded:
- Ranked #11 in Club and Resort Business Magazine’s top 50 Fitness and Wellness Facilities in 2021