Pickleball Craze Sweeps Arizona Snowbird RV Parks

Snowbird RV parks and resorts across Arizona, empty nesters, and retirees are abandoning tennis in favor of pickleball, an easy to learn, senior-friendly sport that requires hitting the ball over a net, but in a small court that doesn’t require nearly as much running around.

Pueblo El Mirage RV & Golf Resort Pickleball Group
Pueblo El Mirage RV & Golf Resort Pickleball Group

“Pickleball is amazingly popular,” said Vickie Jepperson, manager of Pueblo El Mirage RV & Golf Resort in El Mirage, Arizona.

“In all of my years working in the RV resort business, I’ve never seen a sport, other than golf, that is this popular.”

So popular, in fact, that RV parks and resorts in Arizona and across the Sunbelt are converting some of their tennis courts into pickleball courts and building new pickleball courts to accommodate the rapidly increasing numbers of pickleball enthusiasts, said Jo Ann Mickelson, executive director of the Arizona Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds.

“We put in our first two pickleball courts in 2011. Then we added two more in 2013. And this summer we’re putting in two more,” said Cherie Suddarth, manager of the 754-site Gold Canyon RV and Golf Resort in Gold Canyon, Arizona.

Demand for pickleball courts has become so intense that RV parks and resorts that don’t have pickleball are losing snowbird business to other parks that do. Even parks that don’t have enough pickleball courts are at risk.

Pueblo El Mirage RV & Golf Resort installed its first two pickleball courts six years ago. But so many snowbirds took an interest in pickleball that lines started to develop and the resort ended up losing some of its snowbirds to other parks that had more pickleball courts.

Pueblo El Mirage RV & Golf Resort new pickleball courts
Pueblo El Mirage RV & Golf Resort new pickleball courts

“We didn’t have enough pickleball courts, so we lost people,” Jepperson said. But not for long.

Pueblo El Mirage RV & Golf Resort responded to demand by adding 16 more pickleball courts, which were completed two years ago.

And the park’s facilities are so highly regarding that the 1,284-site resort will be hosting the Grand Canyon State Games, the third largest pickleball tournament in the world, from today (February 19) through Sunday, February 23.

Jepperson said pickleball has become a big business that draws players from all over the country.

And RV parks and resorts that have the largest and highest quality pickleball facilities often wind up hosting pickleball tournaments that bring in more guests.

Palm Creek Golf & RV Resort in Casa Grande is having an in-house tournament today (February 19) which involves the park’s guests. But March 7 to 9 the resort will have its annual open tournament, which will draw hundreds of pickleball enthusiasts, said Wendell Johnson, Palm Creek’s general manager.

Palm Creek Golf & RV Resort Pickleball
Palm Creek Golf & RV Resort Pickleball

“We have had several people come in RVs for the tournament and then come back to stay with us during the following winter season. We have also had many non RVers come for the tournament and later rent or buy a home. Our 24 pickleball courts have been a great marketing tool for Palm Creek.”

Indeed, pickleball is so popular it’s not just popular with snowbirds, but people of all ages.

“We’ve even converted some of our tennis courts into pickleball courts,” said Mickelson of the Arizona Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds, who owns JH RV Park in Flagstaff.

Suddarth of Gold Canyon RV & Golf Resort said pickleball is also easy to learn, so it’s a sport that anyone can learn quickly. “It’s a great activity for people to meet each other and have fun,” she said.

What is Pickleball?

Pickleball is a fast paced, easy game to learn and very similar to tennis, yet easier on older joints. As a matter of fact it can be played on a tennis court with a few minor conversions.

Pickleball combines elements of badminton, tennis, and ping-pong (table tennis), and is played on a court with the same dimensions as doubles badminton. It is played as a singles game with one person per side or more commonly as a doubles game with two people on each side of the 36 inches high net.

Each player uses a hard-surface paddle (total length plus width of the paddle cannot exceed 23¾ inches). The object of the game is to score points by successfully hitting a three-inch-diameter polymer (plastic) ball that is perforated with holes (similar to a whiffle-ball) across the net without it being successfully returned by the opponent (s).

Palm Creek Golf & RV Resort Pickleball
Palm Creek Golf & RV Resort Pickleball

Served with an underhand stroke, the ball must bounce before it can be returned on the serve and must bounce before the second return. Games are played to 11 points.

Over time the rules of the game have become more sophisticated but when first developed, pickleball was a simple game designed for all ages and any athletic ability level.

Earlier stories on pickleball can be seen by clicking here.

Worth Pondering…

Well…, meet me in the morning, meet me in the evening, meet me at pickleball time

Be my pickleball partner and we’ll have a good ole time.

Be my pickleball partner and we’ll have a good ole time.

Go and grab your paddle, and swear to your friends around

You’ll be loving pickleball, ‘til the end of time.

Yes, we’ll have a good ole time

It’s Pickleball – Pickleball – Pickleball – time

—Singing Pickleball Pete

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Palm Creek Resort Sold to Sun Communities

Palm Creek Golf & RV Resort, long one of the premier operations of its type in the United States, has been sold to Sun Communities, owner or operator of more than 170 manufactured housing and recreational vehicle communities in 18 states.

Palm Creek Golf & RV Resort
Palm Creek Golf & RV Resort

Palm Creek is a 5-star institutional quality, age restricted resort with 1,863 sites located in Casa Grande, Arizona, just forty minutes south of Phoenix. Amenities include an 18-hole golf course, pools, spas, and a world class pickle ball and tennis facility. The resort is rated very high with a 29 out of 30 rating by Woodall’s/Good Sam Club.

Sun Communities acquired the resort and related improvements, personal property, and associated intangibles for $70.4 million and a contiguous parcel of land being developed to add approximately 990 recreational vehicle, or approximately 550 manufactured housing sites, for $15.0 million.

The aggregate purchase price of $88.0 million includes the reimbursement of $2.6 million for certain construction costs incurred in connection with the development of the land described above. The Company assumed $41.7 million of mortgage debt secured by the community.

The announcement that the Casa Grande RV Resort was sold to the Southfield, Michigan REIT, came from a Sun Communities news release and the Wolfswinkel family, originators of the park, in a letter to Palm Creek residents.

“We believe that this is in not only the best interest of our family, but for the benefit of our residents, guests, and the community as a whole,” Ashton Wolfswinkel wrote to Palm Creek residents.

Palm Creek Golf & RV Resort Pickleball
Palm Creek Golf & RV Resort Pickleball

“Palm Creek started as a dream of my father, Conley, and has become one of the premier RV and mobile home communities in the United States. Through his vision, the hard work and dedication of many longtime staff members, countless volunteers, and the patronage of our residents and guests over the past 13-plus years, Palm Creek has continued to grow into a community that we as owners have been very proud of. I also believe this same pride and sense of community is felt deeply by our residents and guests.”

“The entire management team and staff will continue to serve our residents and run the property in the same fashion as it has always been, with a commitment to excellence,” Wolfswinkel wrote.

“Sun Communities is run by a group of high-quality individuals and they are committed to working to keep Palm Creek the amazing place it has become. I feel confident and am very comfortable knowing that Palm Creek will be in good hands and will build on the legacy that we have all been blessed to be a part of.”


Palm Creek Golf & RV Resort

Palm Creek offers luxury living, whether for a few days or a lifetime.

Address: 1110 North Henness Road, Casa Grande, AZ 85122

Phone: (800) 421-7004

Website: palmcreekgolf.com

Sun Communities, Inc.

Sun Communities, Inc is a premier provider of manufactured home communities and RV resorts and currently owns and operates a portfolio of 173 communities comprising approximately 63,600 developed sites.

Palm Creek Golf & RV Resort
Palm Creek Golf & RV Resort

The company was established in 1975.

The Sun Communities has operations in Colorado (4), Delaware (2), Florida (27), Georgia (3), Illinois (1), Indiana (18), Iowa (1), Kansas (1), Michigan (70), Missouri (2), Nevada (2), North Carolina (3), Ohio (11), Oregon (2), Pennsylvania (1), Tennessee (1), Texas (18), and Virginia (1).

Florida properties include Buttonwood Bay (Sebring), Grand Lake (Citra), The Groves (Fort Myers), Indian Creek (Fort Myers Beach), Lake San Marino (Naples), and Siesta Bay (Fort Myers).

South Texas properties include Casa de Valle (Alamo), Kenwood (La Feria), and Snow to Sun (Weslaco).

Address: 27777 Franklin Road, Suite 200, Southfield, MI 48034

Website: suncommunities.com

Worth Pondering…

If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.

—George Bernard Shaw

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