With more than 16,000 golf courses in the United States, you’d think there would be plenty of opportunities for golfers to find their own slice of heaven—a quiet, unpopulated course where they can roam freely without feeling crowded by other golfers. But that’s not the case. Even though 3,206 courses have been added to the U.S. golf course database since 1990, it’s still really hard to find 18 holes that you can call your own. Wouldn’t it be great to know that you could just walk on a course whenever you wanted and have the place all to yourself?
Things aren’t always the way they seem. Remember M. Night Shyamalan’s movie, The Sixth Sense, with its edge-of-your-seat surprise ending? (If you haven’t seen it, Bruce Willis reveals in the last minute that he wears a toupee.) Just kidding.
One-stop shopping has become a staple of life these days. As the demands on people’s time increase, the need to take care of as much as possible in a timely, convenient manner is paramount, whether one is shopping for groceries, shoes, cars or even golf vacations.
The best of the Desert West is now better than ever
Want a real party? The PGA Tour comes to The TPC of Scottsdale January 29 through February 4 for the FBR Open—the most attended tour stop in the country. Along with the best players in the world come huge galleries, nightly parties, music and opportunities to meet, greet or watch people as they pass on by. The FBR Open is one of the few tournaments where cheering is encouraged, as evidenced by the rowdy par-3 16th hole. It really is the “Greatest Show on Grass.”
Surprises are usually the last thing you’re looking for on a golf trip. No matter where in the world you’re lugging your clubs, and regardless of the time of year, you can never be too prepared for the likes of ugly weather, snarled traffic, allergy attacks, lost luggage, stolen clubs and more. That’s why what you pack for your golf trip should consist of more than just clubs, balls and golf clothes. Other staple items may make your vacation a lot more enjoyable and easy.
You know you’ve always dreamed of it—navigating your way around the hallowed humps and hillocks of the Old Course at Saint Andrews. The history doesn’t just accent the Old Course experience. It defines it. Seek out the Elysian Fields. Avoid the dreaded Hell Bunker, where Jack Nicklaus took five shots to escape in 1995. Take the bold line over the hotel at the Road Hole and face the dreaded approach, which has struck fear into the hearts of the likes of challengers from Old Tom Morris to David Duval.
If you want to maximize fun and minimize panic on your next golf vacation, then prepare up front. That is, think about where you’re heading and what’s unique about that place. Then imagine everything you might encounter on your journey, and address your concerns before you walk out your front door. Work the trip chronologically through your mind, and use the Internet as much as possible. As the time of your trip approaches, start a running checklist of everything you need to pack, keeping it on your nightstand so it’s conveniently located.
There are golf photos, and then there’s golf photography. Like models, some courses beg to be photographed. If you can’t snap a good shot on the 18th at Pebble Beach, you’re in the wrong game, my friend. The contrast of vivid green fairways, shimmering water and cloud-flecked blue skies can make an artist of just about anyone.
The PGA Tour is a showcase for many of the greatest cities and areas in the United States. Okay, the Tour may have abandoned D.C., and its decision to put Chicago on an every-other-year rotation is curious at best. Still, there are plenty of great places to catch an event. With all due respect to San Diego, Hilton Head, the Florida stops and New Orleans, however, no city on the PGA Tour tops Denver from a golf spectator’s unique perspective.
No one here would ever blame you for opting for that second 18, but if you’re looking to add a little adrenaline to your next golf trip, check out these exotic locales and the thrills they can serve up.
Golf course operators in Las Vegas regularly concede and admit that gambling is and always will be the main draw to the area. But that doesn’t mean you can’t combine the two during your stay. A few of the casinos have golf courses nearby; however, they come with a price. The new Wynn Golf Club and Bali Hai are both on the Las Vegas Strip, and both have relatively high green fees.
“We Built This City On Rock And Ross.” Donald Ross’s imprint on golf-course design has been everlasting. Ross’s love affair with Pinehurst began with his work on the famed No. 2 course at the Pinehurst Resort—a course most experts agree is not only the finest of Ross’s designs, but also among the best ever designed in America.
There’s much more to this quaint island than just the world’s best fudge. Since no cars are allowed on the island, you must arrive by ferry or via the 8,614-foot Mackinac Bridge—North America’s longest suspension bridge that physically connects Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas. You can get around the island only by foot, horse carriage or bicycle. Then there’s the charming, 385-room Grand Hotel with the world's longest front porch. The 120-year-old, elegant hotel was the site of the 1979 movie, Somewhere in Time. Be sure to catch the island’s state park, honored by National Geographic as one of America’s 10 finest.
Turn the corner between the 14th green and 15th tee, and you’ll understand why you maxed out your Visa to play here. Off to your left is the world’s largest water hazard, the Pacific Ocean. Don’t get distracted by the kite surfers hanging hundreds of feet underneath you. It’s all part of the show.
The Civil War marks the darkest, most trying period in all of American history. It all began on April 12, 1861, when Confederate artillery opened fire on Fort Sumter. The Union army surrendered the fort less than two days later. Journey by boat into Charleston Harbor and experience the isolation and vulnerability that those soldiers felt when hostilities erupted. A bonus of the trip is a wonderful view of Charleston from the water.
The common misperception is that all 100+ courses along the Grand Strand are right on top of each other. Not the case. (It’s not named the Grand Strand for nothing.) From the southern chunk of North Carolina to Georgetown County 20 miles south of Myrtle Beach, the Grand Strand (or as numerologists call it, Hwy. 17) stretches over 60 miles with golf courses that range from the sublime high-end daily fees to cheap munis. It seems there’s literally every type (and price range) available for all kinds of budgets and skill levels.
We know what you’re thinking. And while we’re somewhat guilty of taking pleasure in riding the Peter Pan and Dumbo rides, the Walt Disney World mecca is also home to some outstanding golf. There are 99 holes there, with top-rated golf courses that include the Magnolia and Palm, two courses that regularly play host to the PGA Tour every year. Say what you will about the theme parks, Walt Disney World has some awesome golf courses to boot.
Like Myrtle Beach and the Phoenix/Scottsdale areas, Palm Springs and its surrounding desert communities boast more than 100 golf courses. That list continues to grow. Last year, Escena, a new Nicklaus design, opened its doors for play. This year, Indian Wells debuts its first of two redesigns. The pros also head out to the desert for a handful of events, including the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, Kraft Nabisco Championship, Samsung World Golf Championship and the annual LG Skins Game.
From the windswept dunes of Lahinch, Ballybunion, Portmarnock, Doonbeg and Waterville to the spectacular cliffs of Old Head and the rolling parkland of a former earl’s estate at Adare Manor, Ireland supplies golf that can’t be found anywhere else. In fact, if you ask most golfers who’ve vacationed in Scotland and Ireland which place they prefer, you’ll get a conflicted answer.
It’s not hard to see why the people at Cuscowilla Golf Resort really love golf. Just look at the place. For starters, the grounds unfold about 70 miles from Atlanta in Eatonton, Ga., at the banks of the spectacular 20,000-acre Lake Oconee. The centerpiece—err, masterpiece—golf course is a tremendous work of art, a collaboration by arguably one of the hottest design duos in the world (Ben Crenshaw/Bill Coore).
Most golfers are slowly becoming aware of what is now one of America’s finest golfing venues: The Great Lakes, particularly Michigan and Wisconsin. In recent years, some of the most celebrated new courses in America opened in this region. The varied topography–everything from sand dunes to abandoned stone quarries—combined with perfect soils and abundant water have made the area an ideal place for building exciting golf courses.
For golf lovers there's no better place on earth than Myrtle Beach—or more appropriately, the Carolinas' "Grand Strand". The 60+ mile stretch between southeastern North Carolina and Georgetown, South Carolina, with the Sun-Fun City of Myrtle Beach at the center, offers 100+ golf courses designed for every kind of golfer.