Is it Time For a Get-Away?
When you are weary of winter, sick of being a ski bum or simply seek sunshine, leave the earmuffs behind and head to any of these warm-weather golf destinations. Rediscover America in the gulf and western states, tropical islands or exotic faraway places of your childhood dreams. Charter your plane or make a daily search of all the travel websites until you find the airline connection that warms your heart, tickles your pocketbook and your fancy. Pack light and go lighthearted leaving all your worries behind. Go with the ones you love the most or fly solo. It’s your trip, so do what you dig and if you are reading this, you probably dig golf. Take your clubs or have them shipped. Rent them there or hey, get fitted by a pro and bring home a new set. Wishing you all happy holidays, happy winter and happy travels.
Florida – From the northeast coast, Amelia Island down the shoreline to Miami’s mini Havana and up the Gulf of Mexico to the Emerald Coast, sunshine, beaches and over 1000 golf courses (the most in the union) make this long peninsular state one of the best winter escapes for a weekend or the season. Global golf pros know Florida as one of the superior spots to live, practice and play along the coast or inland. Families flock to attractions and beaches and spring breakers go wild. From Disney to the World Golf Hall of Fame, find your inner child here.
Alabama – Sweet home to all, the music and sounds are seductive in this underrated state. Listen to the songs of legends in The Shoals and hear the roar of engines at Talladega; it is an adventurous journey. From the mighty rocket engines near Huntsville to the sound of liberty ringing in Selma, history comes alive. Drive the Robert Trent Jones golf trail and make side turns to many diverse courses statewide. Mill around Mobile, home of the first Mardi Gras parade. Affordable stay and play packages include Southern charm and challenge. In Point Clear, a canon blasts daily at the Grand Marriott honoring our nation’s military.
Mississippi – Stroll the beaches of Mississippi’s Gulf Coast, troll on a fishing boat or simply enjoy the fresh catch of the day. It is called the Riviera of the South for a reason, offering both value and luxury with 12 casinos and major golf designs by Arnold, Jack and Davis Love III. The Beau Rivage stands out in Biloxi with gaming, panoramic water views, cuisine and exclusive access to Fallen Oak, rated number one in Mississippi since inception. Listen to Mississippi blues music and golf the two courses at Dancing Rabbit near the capitol of Jackson.
Louisiana – Spice up your golf vacation with down home Cajun heat, found in food and weather. Take life down to a crawdad pace and enjoy beautiful emerald fairways adjacent to lakes, wetlands, and rivers with tall cypress and oaks adorned with Spanish moss. From gumbo to kolaches and sugar powdered beignets, plan on pounds to be burned. Jazz it up in New Orleans on Bourbon Street or reel in a redfish down on the bayou. Gaming and golf around the state combine with fresh/salt water fishing tours for a winning sports trifecta, especially in Lake Charles.
California – Count on this climate, colossal coastal views and the Twisted Colossus roller coaster at Magic Mountain, one of many theme attractions besides SeaWorld, Disney and Universal Studios. The Pacific provides beach fun and seaside golf from Pebble to Torrey Pines. Then there’s wine – not just in the sadly fire stormed NAPA but in the Gold Country to the east, south to Sonoma, Monterrey, San Luis Obispo and Temecula in the desert near Palm Springs, full of championship golf framed by snow capped mountains. Hop on the trolley in San Francisco or whale watch in San Diego – California Dreaming on a winter’s day.
Arizona – Topologically diverse, this sun kissed golf mecca spans the Mexican border to Tucson and Phoenix/Scottsdale valleys, the Mogollon Rim in Payson, the red rocks of Sedona and of course the Grand Canyon. Over 300 courses, dude ranches, all major sporting venues, concerts, shows and spas entertain tourists from around the globe. Savor the flavor of comida or food from all nations while watching the brilliant sunsets perhaps poolside in one of the many classy resorts. Go west young man (and woman) for smiles over the miles, Top Golf and top golf courses, old and new, all true targets for a victorious vacation.
Las Vegas – Roll the dice and put on your party dress or hit the strip in jeans and a tee. Anything goes in this glitter town. Let it shine at Ice bars, water shows and who knows what fun and exciting times may be had? This entertainment capital has introduced some of the finest golf courses in the west. Tour the nearby Grand Canyon or Hoover Dam by helicopter or car, explore the mountains or simply relax by the pool and be thankful you are not shoveling snow. The best gambling and shopping resorts in the world are singing, “Be our guests, be our guests, be our guests!” #vegas strong.
Hawaii – Absorb the Polynesian culture in the tropical paradise of Hawaii. Lei down the pomp and circumstance and laze the day away on the beach. Pick up a ukulele and hula at a Luau to the cadence of serenity. Swaying grass skirts mimic the flow of palm trees that gently wave with the Pacific Ocean breeze. Breathtaking sea views are synonymous with a multitude of iconic golf resorts on Kauai, Oahu, Lanai and Maui. Golf where the PGA begins their season tour. Hang ten on the waves, snorkel, kayak, bike Haleakala and hike the Na Pali Coast. Golf some more and save sleeping for the flight home.
Caribbean & The Islands
Mexico – Take a shot of tequila, shout ole and pour another cerveza on the mainland of Mexico in Cancun, or Puerto Vallarta. From Baja California’s developing Los Cabos on the southern tip to the quaint Loreto Bay further north on the Sea of Cortez, this is where golf courses have crazy cool views like Quivira, Palmilla and Danzante Bay. Water diversions include sailing by the arch, swimming with dolphins, kayaking with whale sharks and snorkeling the sea that Jacques Cousteau called the Aquarium of the World. Say hola, believe in manana, have patience, let loose, and let be on the beaches of Mexico.
Dominican Republic – In the Atlantic blue waters the airports of La Romana and Punta Cana welcome golfers and beach lovers. Passing frequent “beisbol” fields Casa de Campo is an entire village of sports with private beaches, marina, 4 excellent courses, equestrian, skeet shooting, plus entertainment and arts where every guest has their own golf cart at check in for transport. On the east side of the island in Punta Espada and Punta Cana idyllic beaches continue with all-inclusive resorts. Web.com tour spot Corales is bumping up to host the PGA Match play in ’18, a must play for all in DR.
Jamaica – Ya Mon! Sandals, IBEROSTAR, and more all-inclusive options lead to unimagined coastal golf and island experiences. Invasions of the island including the British, French, Spanish and pirates, formulated the culture, architecture, and language brought together with Bob Marley’s One Love. Drink up mon. Blue Mountain coffee wakes you up, made with the purest water. Later Jamaican rum mixes with fresh juices. Coconut water sipped straight from the shell hydrates and boosts the circulatory system. Golf at White Witch, Cinnamon Hill, Half Moon and Tryall Clubs cures any vegetation depravation as the hilly jungles burst with exotic foliage, flowers and birds, framing the ocean views.
Aruba – This desert island is full of cacti, happy hours and a couple of fun golf courses. Coastal winds may add excitement to the game; even cause boomerang effect on drives to the sky at Tierra del Sol, where a lighthouse beckons golfers to play among silly wild goats and iguanas. Arizona meets beachfront along the windswept rugged coastline. Scuba or snorkel above a shipwreck or kick back on the beach and watch the windsurfing and kite surfing, wonders to behold. Why not try it? Local cuisine is uniquely delish with creole type rice and stews of beef, chicken and goat (hmm).
Bahamas – When frost appears, catch your Bahama breeze on 700 islands and cays of treasure and pleasure. The beach combing, snorkeling and diving are a short flight or cruise from Florida. Golf is a bonus at The Ocean Club on The Grand Bahamas Island, a Tom Weiskopf design. The newly opened Jack Nicklaus Baha Mar is ready for play on Nassau and the private Baker’s Bay course is home to some of the biggest names on the PGA. Darren Clarke lives to fish, perhaps even more than golf at the Abaco Club on Winding Bay. Book Captain Mike at Treasure Cay and shout yahoo when you catch your wahoo.
Bermuda – One of the more exclusive islands in the world is all prettied up from the America’s Cup held this year. White top roofs and colorful houses dot the surprisingly lush landscape. Famous for its sandy beaches speckled with pink, Bermuda is just a two-hour flight from the U.S. Scooter or taxi around the island in a day visiting the museums, marinas, shops and restaurants. The temperate climate almost guarantees Bermuda short weather and one resort actually does this season. Casual sophistication and famous ocean front golf courses with panoramic views rule here.
Azores – This verdant archipelago with ancient stonewalls was named one of the best places to visit in ‘17 by the Lonely Planet. On San Miguel Island the lushly landscaped Batalha Golf course rises into the mountains then slowly backs down to sea views. Gargantuan blue hydrangeas decorate The Furnas Golf Club. Quaint seaside hotels capture the views of the Atlantic. A tea plantation here, The Caldeira Hot springs and Terra Nostra Garden with a thermal pool there, a Lusitano horse ballet show and all equate to a quiet culture of people you will never forget. Check out SATA Airlines for nonstop fun.
St. Kitts – In the Lesser Antilles of the West Indies, St. Kitts/Nevis, separated by a ferry ride is lush with foliage and history. Explore uncrowded beaches, tropical landscapes, the Brimstone fortress and old sugar plantations turned into quaint B&Bs. Ocean views and monkeys have long stood out on The Royal St. Kitts Golf Club and the Four Seasons Nevis Golf Course. New to the island is Irie Fields at Kittitian Hill, an Ian Woosnan signature design and Tom Fazio’s luxurious Christophe Harbour opening soon. Beach days or day tours are completely unique to this island as is the nighttime calypso.
South Africa – Golf and animal safaris combine for experiences of a lifetime where the Atlantic and Indian Ocean meet. Fly into Cape Town to enjoy the waterfront and Table Mountain. Explore the garden trail, wineries, and penguin colony. Dine on sweet lean cholesterol free venison from 13 types of antelope, ostrich and seafood – tasty and healthy. Breath taking views and wild kingdom encounters surpass all National Geographic portrayals. You will long to return.
Dubai – Indubitably one of the most intriguing destinations, the opulence in this desert oasis by the sea attracts global jet setters. It is a magic carpet ride to sheer luxury where high-rise hotels tower over the sea and fairways. The Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club dominates the waterfront and the Emirates Golf Club hosts the Omega Dubai Desert Classic and Omega Ladies Masters. Bring out your inner camel jockey with a ride on the JBR public beach.
Thailand– “One night in Bangkok and the world’s your oyster.” The song beckons travelers who want a big bang for their buck. All that glitters is gold at the Grand Palace and across the country. Uniformed caddies with wide brimmed hats, gloves and smiles greet golfers on tropical courses. Massages are available on every corner. Sweet spicy flavors scent the streets. Visit the elephant farm in Chang Mai and the beach in Phuket.
Brazil – The 2016 summer Olympics brought Rio de Janeiro to light with golf returning for the first time since 1904 at Rio 2016 Olympic Golf Course freshly designed by Gil Hanse. The girls from Ipanema beach scenery account for a global draw while seaside cliffs and the Amazon rainforest deliver unique natural vistas and terrain for more golf courses throughout the most populous and only Portuguese speaking nation in the Americas.
Malaysia – Explore exotic jungles on land and below water. Surf the Sky Cable car to the Hill Resort and Genting Highlands. Climb Mount Kinabalu and encounter the colorama of Kuala Lumpur and museums. Find solitude in the isolated, insolated islands of Perhang, Perhentian, Manukan and Daang Bunting. Bornean Sun Bears, Orangutans and aquariums showcase nature in a rare setting. The Malaysian Golf Association dating back to 1928 with serene ocean and inland course vistas tops it all off.WHAT'S YOUR REACTION?