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.
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.
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.
In 1898, Samuel Mills Damon, a wealthy Hawaiian banker, built Hawaii’s first official 18-hole golf course. Even though it was on his estate, Damon didn’t charge any greens fees. A nice gesture, but the free rounds didn’t last long. Three years into its operation, Damon’s son made the course semiprivate and, because of the warm, tropical climate, lopped off nine of its holes. Playing 18, it seems, was just too hot to handle.