Savor These Sweet Travel Deals
Shoulder Season is the travel industry’s term for the period between peak and off-peak seasons when sweet pricing deals are found. When we’re finished with winter and ready for our spring flings, weather might be a gamble but when isn’t it, really? No matter the prediction we always say, we’ll know what the weather was at the end of the day.
Savor the sweet savings in these four regions with seaside and inland golf treks by searching online for special package deals at the resorts’ websites or on travel sites such as Expedia, Travelocity or Kayak. For tight budgets, the new hopper website calculates airline fees and gives advice on when to book, alternate airports and more.
Walking the “salt flats” for miles at low tide in Brewster is the best reason to buy a Cape Cod sweatshirt. Cages of oysters are transported across the soggy sand with small wagons for commercial sale. Stay at Ocean Edge Resort’s Mansion Hotel and Villages and enjoy those oysters at the Terrace after golf at their Troon managed Nicklaus course. Don’t get bogged down by all the local golf choices. Begin with Cranberry Valley after a hearty breakfast in their Stove restaurant. Hit up the Dennis Pines and Dennis Highlands Courses and take in the higher elevations at Hyannis where The Sound of Music might ring in your ears around the famous horseshoe number 8. The rolling hills and long narrow fairways with towering pines and maple forests at Old Barnstable Fairgrounds is completed by the spacious clubhouse overlooking the scenic countryside.
North to the Outer Cape, Highland Links was established in 1892 in the town of Truro. Heather and gorse landscape this charming throwback course. The focal point from most of the nine holes is the lighthouse museum where visitors from the encased glass above gaze at the ocean as well as the golfers approaching the par 3 7th green. Grab your knickers and brassies or come as you are for astounding ocean views.
Eclectic Provincetown at the tip of the peninsula is an art colony with much to explore – the Pilgrim Tower and Commercial Street – full of shops, restaurants, shows and a promenade of characters. The Inn at Cook St. is a comfy retreat in walking distance to everything including a private beach access. The Dunes Tour is a history journey in an SUV over deep sandy hills before settling on the western beach. Bring a bottle of wine and a lobster or Portuguese roll. Watch the waves as seals pop up grinning with their own supper catch and the sun sets over the ocean with a rainbow of colors. Rainbows are everywhere in Ptown in celebration of the LGBT community.
Florida has over 1200 miles of coastline, 663 miles of beaches and over 1500 golf courses. The First Coast on the northern Atlantic side pays homage to the first Spanish settlers. On Amelia Island stay and play at the Omni or Ritz-Carlton. America’s oldest town, St. Augustine, is a few miles down the beach and home of the World Golf Hall of Fame. Play TPC Sawgrass for a special treat and Ponte Vedra en route to Daytona for a NASCAR racing fix.
Then race on down to the Space Coast stopping at the PGA Golf Club at Village for 3 courses and PGA National Golf Resort and Spa with 5 courses, host of the Honda Classic. Drive on to Hammock Beach Resort, the first of Sheila Johnson’s Salamander properties with Jack Nicklaus’ Ocean and Watson’s Conservatory courses. Follow the Salamander Trail inland to Orlando’s Reunion Resort to play the signature courses of Watson, Palmer and Nicklaus. Practice with the pros here and a short iron away at Omni Resort at Championsgate where Jurassic like sand cranes roam the National and newly renovated International Courses. The last stop on the Salamander Trail is Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club in Palm Harbor to play the famous Copperhead, North, South and Island courses.
Circle up to the panhandle where beaches are whiter and water is greener, hence called the Emerald Coast. Soft sand stretches for 27 miles along the gulf with Shell Island voted top beach in the continental United States. The Sheraton Bay Point Resort in Panama City features 36 holes – the Nicklaus Course (previously called Lagoon Legends and nicknamed the Dragon) and the Meadows Course. The Hombre Golf Club offers 27 championship holes, cleverly named “The Good, The Bad & The Ugly.” Holiday Golf Club, with a lighted driving range, and Signal Hill, Panama City Beach’s first course round out the collection in one of “America’s Top Three Golf Towns” as claimed by Golf Digest. Florida offers the best combination of golf and aquatic vacations.
Nothing could be finer than coasting along the Carolina shores for great golf expeditions. Starting in the north with the Outer Banks area, inhale golf bliss with the fresh ocean breezes at Nags Head, The Pointe and Kilmarlic Golf Clubs. Sail, drive or fly a few bays and inlets south into prime fairway country around Wilmington. Cape Fear National is a must play in the Brunswick Island area. The Ocean Ridge Plantation has great accommodations and four courses.
Enjoy fresh seafood along the way as you tackle the Tiger’s Eye, Panther’s Run, Leopards Chase and the Lion’s Paw. A short drive inland takes you to the Home of American Golf. Extending beyond the iconic village and 8 courses at the Pinehurst Resort, this sand hills region of North Carolina features the Mid South Golf Club, Tallamore, the Bayonet at Puppy Creek and a quirky favorite, Tobacco Road.
Returning to the coast, Myrtle Beach is known as the hillbilly Riviera with miles of affordable beach accommodations. From Shallotte to Murrells Inlet, 100+ quality courses are represented by every major course designer – Arnold, Jack, Tom, Robert and local favorites Strand and Tim Cate. After all the beers and T-shirt shops, slide into upscale living and southern hospitality in the historical Charleston area. Stay at the charming seaside Wild Dunes Plantation and play the Fazio Links and Harbor Courses. Nearby Kiawah Island evokes memories of past glory from The War on the Shore and Hilton Head Island offers the best variety of low country estate living.
Stay and Play packages at Palmetto Dunes Resort will make everyone happy. Try the PGA favorite at Harbor Town Golf Links while there. Walk the flat sand beaches for a romantic encounter or build sandcastles with the kids. The area landscape is untouched by urban sprawl as shopping centers and restaurants are tucked into thickly wooded areas adorned by Spanish moss and the beach is always a walk or bike ride away.
Arizona has no coastline yet but it does have a lot of sand in the desert and bunkers in over 300 courses. Desert golf with altitude delivers a rocky mountain high, beginning with the Catalina Mountain range in Tucson. Lowe’s Ventana Canyon Resort has two championship courses that elevate your game, literally. Number 3 on the Mountain Course, said to be the most photographed par 3 west of the Mississippi is perched upon a rocky knoll separated by a canyon from tee to green. No room for error! The Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain formerly hosted the Accenture Match Play with 27 holes near Marana while Omni Tucson National still courts the Conquistadores Classic and Sewailo Golf at the Casino Del Sol Resort is a superb oasis design by Notah Begay.
The Valley of the Sun sprawls from Wickenburg in the west to Gold Canyon Golf Resort in the eastern Superstition Mountains. You can be a cowboy at Rancho de Los Caballeros and around the corner Li’l Wick (a new nine hole playground) is adorable next to Big Wick at Wickenburg Ranch Golf and Social Club.
In the greater Phoenix and Scottsdale area, there are so many old favorites like all the Troon and TPC courses, Boulders Resort and Spa, and Grayhawk. The new Short Course at Mountain Shadows is long on character below Camelback Mountain. On the south side of the mountain, the Phoenician Resort’s 36 holes snuggle up to the prime hiking entrance on Camelback.
If dry heat concerns you, climb higher to the crimson red mountains of Sedona where Seven Canyons, Oak Creek and Sedona Golf Resort have striking views of the mystical geological wonder. Take a pink jeep tour to the vortexes. Higher yet, and higher than Denver, Humphries’ Peak in Flagstaff rises 12,633 feet. Play Flagstaff Ranch, Forest Highlands, Continental or Aspen Valley Golf amid the Ponderosa Pines of the San Francisco Peaks and then trek on to the Grand Canyon. You have to see it once, right? Cactus League spring training, hiking, biking, dining and nightlife make Arizona the most diverse golf mecca during the sweet shoulder season.