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__Òeverything 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.
If there's one thing you should know about golf in the magnificent desert West, heed the following statement: In the desert West, you don't play golf, you experience it.
With Las Vegas having more than 50, Palm Springs with 100-plus and the Phoenix/Scottsdale/Mesa area totaling somewhere near 200 golf courses, it’s no wonder millions of golfers each year flock to these three desert golf boomtowns. It’s culture shock for many once they get there, as golfers from all over the world marvel at the union between harsh desert topography and the soft, caressing ribbons of fairway and greens that make up each golf oasis.
Hidden gems and must-plays for the ultimate golf pilgrimage
Golf in Ireland, obviously, has existed for quite some time, and it continues to flourish in a pure state. Walking is the preferred mode of transportation; scores are more often measured by Stapleford scoring and matches than stoke play. Par is relative to the wind and weather conditions of the day, not the number on the card. Here, traditions are revered and respected. Unfortunately, most visiting golfers don’t spend enough time in one place to get to know the area’s history let alone its unique flavor.
Only 12 miles long and five miles wide, Hilton Head is a maritime jewel off the southernmost coast of South Carolina, about 40 miles northwest of Savannah, Ga. Remarkably, golf wasn’t introduced to this thickly forested barrier island until 1956 when the first course, the Ocean Course, opened. The course is in Sea Pines Resort, a 5,500-acre residential and recreational development pioneered by Charles Fraser, son of a timber magnate, who’s heralded as modern Hilton Head’s founding father.
Double-bogeys mean nothing when you're in paradise
The lure of the Caribbean islands is strong. Prospects of warm weather and a needed respite from the perils of modern living make the region a fine escape. Pair that with a geography exceedingly tropical and seemingly remote, despite the fact that the islands can be reached via a twin prop from most Eastern cities, and you have a bona fide vacation winner. Now, throw in golf far better than most people have ever imagined, and you have the incentive to start packing immediately, especially if your itinerary includes Jamaica, Puerto Rico and the Bahamas.
Golf in Hawaii is a study in variance. At the same time, the island game is littered with awe-inspiring topography–replete with the expected natural beauty–and not-so-subtle dangers from tee to green. Perhaps that’s what makes playing golf on Hawaiian courses so intriguing: You don’t mind the occasional double bogey when you’re in paradise.
Follow the course - Rich trails of Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi
The Gulf Coast region of Alabama, Louisiana and the state we learned to spell phonetically–M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-I–may not be the first place you’d think of for a golfing trip, but the more you learn about what it has to offer, the more you realize what a viable choice it is. The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail in Alabama, the Audubon Golf Trail in Louisiana and the Golf Coast Golf Trail in Mississippi are wonderful golfing venues that feature courses designed by some of the greatest architects and players in the game.