A senior-citizen friendly sport called Pickleball is sweeping RV parks and resorts across the Sunbelt.
“It’s a compact version of tennis,” said Wendell Johnson, general manager of Palm Creek Golf & RV Resort in Casa Grande, Ariz., adding, “The game is very easily learned. Within a week or two, you can become proficient.”
Pickleball involves hitting a ball over a net as in tennis. But it requires only one fourth of the space.
“Because you’re in a much more confined area, you have a much better opportunity to hit the ball. You don’t have to run and fetch the ball nearly as much, especially if you play the game as doubles. So it’s not nearly as taxing on a person.”
Palm Creek Golf & Resort Resort has 24 pickleball courts, more than any other RV resort in the nation. And snowbirds in particular are flocking to the sport in increasing numbers.
“We currently have 450 registered members of our pickleball court. But during the course of the winter season, we’ll actually have 600 people that play pickleball,” he said.
But pickleball has become so popular that RV resorts are racing to either convert some of their existing tennis courts into pickleball courts or to build brand new pickleball courts altogether.
“Just about every single RV resort that is financially capable is installing pickleball courts or expanding their pickleball courts,” Johnson said.
Southfield, Mich.-based Sun RV Resorts, which owns Palm Creek, has also added pickleball courts at several of its other properties, including Indian, Siesta Bay, Rainbow and Buttonwood Bay RV Resorts in Florida and Casa del Valle in Texas. “Some of them are lighted for night play to allow our residents and guests more time to enjoy this growing sport,” said Lori Rumer, regional vice president of operations and sales for Sun RV Resorts.
“Pickleball has become a mandatory, expected amenity (for RV resorts) to be considered a five-star property that caters to active adults,” said Greg Sidoroff, vice president of operations for La Jolla, Calif.-based SunLand RV Resorts.
Three SunLand properties have pickleball courts, including Emerald Desert RV Resort in Palm Desert, Calif., Golden Village Palms RV Resort in Hemet, Calif., and Silver Palms RV Resort in Okeechobee, Fla.
Johnson of Palm Creek Golf & RV Resort said pickleball courts, as an investment, are also much more cost effective than tennis courts.
“We built four new tennis courts this past summer at a cost of $164,000,” Johnson said. “Those courts will entertain about 16 people if they play doubles. But in the same land area, you could entertain 64 pickleball players.”
And while pickleball has primarily been a sport for senior citizens, Johnson said younger people are playing the sport, too. “It’s expanding dramatically all over the country,” he said.
Here’s a sampling of RV parks and resorts across the Sunbelt that offer pickleball facilities: