Golf vacation

5 destinations for a successful golf vacation

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The pandemic has sent travelers in search of wide open spaces and fresh air. During COVID days of social distancing, golf courses were a ‘safe’ way to exercise and be social. The National Golf Foundation says there were 500,000 more golfers in 2020 than in 2019. That’s the biggest increase the game has seen in 17 years. With golf booming, there has been a growing interest in golf vacations. It’s an ideal way for weekend golfers to take their game to new heights while enjoying stunning scenery. To help you get started, we’ve selected some of the best golf destinations in North America.

Ponte Vedra and St. Augustine, Florida

The Sunshine State has more than a thousand golf courses, more than any other place in the United States. But the epicenter of Florida gaming is just south of Jacksonville, in the towns of Ponte Vedra and St. Augustine, home to the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Nearby TPC Sawgrass should be on every golf lover’s bucket list. Home to the Players Championship in March and considered golf’s fifth unofficial major, its clubhouse and course are open to the public. Try your hand at the iconic island putting green, or simply have a drink or a meal at the club’s restaurant. Eighteen dollars for a burger is a bargain so you can spend the afternoon enjoying the view of the course from the restaurant’s elegant outdoor patio. Follow your meal with a free tour of the building or park. Volunteer storytellers will be happy to guide you through the history of the club.

Ponte Vedra Inn & Club is the resort of choice with two golf courses, plus a putting green and driving range free for guests. This luxurious, family-friendly beachfront resort features a world-class spa and tennis program. Guests can stay in beachfront accommodation or in the historic inn overlooking the golf course. Large groups of golfers can choose to stay at the Island House, near the course’s iconic 9th hole. The Ponte Vedra Surf Club, overlooking the Atlantic, has a fun bar and casual restaurant, adult pool and Jacuzzi. Kids will love the zero-depth pool and waterslide. For more refined fare, the beachfront Seahorse Grille with its eye-catching aquarium, offers a memorable evening of fine dining featuring steaks and seafood.

Ponte Vedra Inn & Club, Ponte Vedra, Florida (Courtesy of Ponte Vedra Inn & Club)

Scottsdale, AZ

Maybe you want the sun and mountains? Head to the Phoenix area, known as the Valley of the Sun for its warm temperatures and an average of 300 days of sunshine per year. The Greater Phoenix area is made up of over 20 towns and villages, each with its own personality. But with over 200 courses and numerous golf resorts, the city of Scottsdale is the best choice for golf lovers.

Nestled in the foothills of Camelback Mountain, the 18-hole course at Mountain Shadows Resort offers a scenic setting for a fun, fast game. You can play all 18 holes in less than three hours or nine holes in ninety minutes. It is also an excellent choice of accommodation. Mid-century modern architecture and decor give it a hip vibe. Two 75-foot pools with views of the surrounding mountains are perfect for working out Where lounge. The Echo Canyon trailhead is a scenic one-mile walk through the surrounding upscale neighborhood.

Mountain Shadows Resort (Photo by Dave Sansom Photography)

If you’re looking for a restaurant to celebrate a special occasion or just a romantic evening, you can’t go wrong with the elements at Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort. Just down the street from Mountain Shadows, this is where celebrity Food Network chef Beau MacMillan combines Asian-infused American cuisine with stunning mountain views and cozy outdoor fires in the winter.

When you’re ready to take a break from the sun, Phoenix is ​​also home to world-class cultural institutions like the Heard Museum, an extensive collection of Native American artifacts and contemporary art; and the Musical Instrument Museum, where 12,000 instruments are on display alongside Eric Clapton and Paul Simon’s guitars, John Lennon’s piano and other priceless rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia.

Caribbean courses

Carved into the foothills of the west coast of Montego Bay, Jamaica, the 18-hole course at Half Moon Resort sits on the site of a former sugar cane estate. Designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr., the eminent American golf course architect, it is a course that is both challenging and serene, with majestic palm trees lined along the greens. Colorful bougainvillea frames the walkway leading to the majestic White Pavilion with its massive columns and elegant interiors. There is a respect for tradition here. Each golfer receives a caddy which brings a great knowledge of the course. Half Moon has hosted a number of prestigious tournaments including the Jamaica Open Golf Championship and the Dunhill Cup Final of the Americas. After enjoying your time on this legendary course, stop by the 19th hole for a round of drinks. Besides golf, Half Moon Resort offers two miles of beautiful beaches, three restaurants, and a world-class spa. But you don’t have to be a resort guest to enjoy a day of golf here. Golf rates for non-guests start at $80.

Half Moon Resort (Photo by Eric Stein Photography)

Whistling Sound, Kohler, Wisconsin

Summer is serene in Whistling Straits, often called the “pebble beach of the Midwest.” Ranked among the best public courses in the country by golf week, the Pete Dye-designed course offers stunning views of Lake Michigan. Since opening in 1998, it has hosted the Ryder Cup in 2021 and three PGA Championships. Both 18-hole courses at Whistling Straits are owned by the luxurious Kohler Resort in Wisconsin and were inspired by Herb Kohler’s love of Ireland and Irish golf. Golfers will feel transported to Ireland’s rugged coastline as this course meanders along the cliffs and dunes overlooking Lake Michigan. Caddies are necessary and they greatly facilitate navigation on this course. Ten miles away is the Destination Kohler Resort, with its historic American Club Lodge and more secluded private cabins. A post-round visit to the luxurious Kohler Waters Spa, which specializes in hydrotherapy, is a must.

Whistling Straits, Destination Kohler Resort (Photo courtesy of Kohler Co.)

Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama

Thirty-two miles of pristine, soft white sand beaches provide a sublime backdrop to the five golf courses in the neighboring towns of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama, just across the border from Florida.

Consider playing in the artisan farms designed by Arnold Palmer. If you’re a nature lover, be sure to play the Peninsula Golf Club with its wooden golf cart paths leading to the piers overlooking Mobile Bay. To the rhythm of blue herons and egrets, you will have the impression of spending the day in a nature reserve. Coastal Alabama Golf can help you plan your golf trip, get discounts and the best tee times. Everything you need to decide when to visit. Summer is peak season along Alabama’s Gulf Coast, and spring break draws heaps of college kids. Mild weather throughout the winter brings many older snowbirds here to play golf, with temperatures typically between 50 and 60 degrees. Autumn is a great time to visit, as the coastal waters are still warm and there are far fewer tourists.

Fancy a romantic evening? Head to Perch at Gulf State Park’s modern, eco-friendly Lodge overlooking the water for the best sunset views. Fire pits and live music add to the ambience. The 6,150-acre Gulf State Park sits between Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, offering two miles of public beach surrounded by sand dunes. Free bikes make it easy to explore Gulf State Park.

Gulf State Park (Shutterstock)

Fisher’s Upstairs is another date night winner that serves sublime fresh seafood from the Gulf of Mexico. For a more casual meal, take a seat at one of the Gulf Restaurant’s waterfront picnic tables and watch the boats pass by in a laid-back atmosphere, toes in the sand, drink in hand .

Feature image: Kiva Dunes Resort in Gulf Shores, Alabama (courtesy Kiva Dunes Resort)

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