After an especially brutal winter, wasn’t it kind of nice to see the lush, summery conditions at the Masters over the weekend? You know what would be even nicer? Packing up your clubs and shaking off the cold with a few days of great golf and living large at a world-class resort. Here are five of the best destinations across the country.
Mystical Golf, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Photo: Wood Sabold
This complex in central Myrtle Beach features three distinctly different and oddly named courses. The Wizard is a fair test of links-style golf on rolling terrain. The Witch is a tree-lined parkland course carved neatly out of cypress forest and swampland (many of the holes are worlds unto themselves, with wildlife from eagles to gators looking on). Finally, the Man-O-War is a manicured, relatively flat course notable for island greens and fairways shaped by water hazards.
The deal: One of the best you’ll find anywhere. For about $400, you get three nights at an on-complex villa, a round of golf at each course (plus a bonus round), breakfast, a free steak dinner, and even a couple of free brews on the course daily.
Best for: You and handful (or even a dozen) of your golf buddies and college pals. For the price and the quality of the courses, it could very easily become a yearly pilgrimage/tournament.
Useful accessory: Load up on George Washingtons. There’s no shortage of establishments nearby featuring what the locals call “the ballet.” You can arrange for a shuttle bus to get you back and forth.
The Tribute/Old American, Dallas, Texas
These two adjacent courses outside Dallas also provide a contrast in styles. Old American, codesigned by former British Open champ Justin Leonard, features tricky sloped fairways wrapping around lakes, and sweeping native grasses. The back nine is longer and really becomes a test when the Texas wind blows. The links-style Tribute is an homage to some of the best holes in Scottish golf. The home hole is a spot-on replica of No. 18 at the Old Course at St. Andrews, and it’s pretty awesome to play, not least because the fairway is so damn wide.
The deal: Old American, a semiprivate club, now offers stay-and-play packages in conjunction with hotels up the road in Plano for about $225 per day. The Tribute features a Scottish-style inn with quaint, oaky rooms overlooking the course and a charming pub-restaurant on the premises. It’s $319 per day for two for a round at the Tribute and a night in the inn on weekdays, and $369 on weekends (plan in advance; there are only eight rooms at the inn). You can schedule rounds at Old American into your stay.
Best for: Old American is great for business travelers who can put aside a day or two for a PGA-caliber golf experience. Does your wife/girlfriend like to play? The Tribute’s cozy old-school charm is great for couples.
Useful accessory: If you get joined up with some business types, it’s a good gesture to have a quality cigar to offer. The Arturo Fuente Hemingway Classic—a big, not-too-heavy smoke with just the right spice—will make a good impression.
Breckenridge Golf Club, Breckenridge, Colorado
Nothing like the thin air of Colorado to help restore your confidence off the tee. Imagine reaching 574 par 5 in two. Bonus: “The ball slices and hooks less, too, because there’s less friction in the air,” according to Breckenridge head pro Erroll Miller. It’s enough to make you book your trip today. Of course, designer Jack Nicklaus took that into account in making the course devilishly tight and some of the greens postage stamp size, putting a premium on shotmaking. That said, it’s pretty damn cool teeing off from 10,000 feet and looking out at the Rockies.
The deal: The course is a stone’s throw from town, and Breckenridge is full of terrific lodges. A few of our favorites are One Ski Hill and the Mountain Thunder Lodge. The course offers a variety of deals to patrons of most of the town’s lodges, such as three days, three rounds for $336, and unlimited play for six days for $460.
Best for: Adventure seekers who like to play some golf but also enjoy hiking, mountain biking, or maybe seeing what’s new on tap at the Breckenridge Brew Pub.
Useful accessory: Cigarette papers. You know, in case you want to roll something legal.
Crystal Springs, Hamburg, New Jersey
As you drive down the country road that winds through this sprawling resort, it’s easy to forget you’re not an hour outside of New York City. It’s God’s country up here in northern New Jersey. With seven championship courses, including the highly regarded Ballyowen links course and the dizzyingly scenic Great Gorge, Crystal Springs has more to offer than you can possibly take in in one trip.
The deal: Crystal Springs has three hotels. You can stay the Mineral Lodge and play for about $220 a day. Golf and spa packages at the luxe Grand Cascade Lodge are about $1,600 for two for a weekend.
Best for: Serious golfers who want to play 36 will enjoy the Mineral Lodge. If you’re looking to pamper your lady, Grand Cascade offers in-room hot tubs, panoramic views, spa treatments, couples massages, indoor and outdoor pools (including one with a poolside bar)…You might want to play early and take advantage of that action.
Useful accessory: There are gorgeous views everywhere you turn at Crystal Springs, so you’ll want to take some pics. But if you don’t want to lug an expensive camera around, the Nokia Lumia 1020, with it’s 41 mp camera, is still the state of the art for phone cameras.
Bandon Dunes Resort, Bandon, Oregon
This Mecca perched on cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean should be on every golf lover’s bucket list. Actually, you should aspire to get there more than once: It’s arguably the finest golf resort in the country. Three of the four courses—Bandon Dunes, Pacific Dunes, and Old Macdonald—are links courses that rival Scotland’s most famous, with philosophically awesome views of the rugged coast. The fourth, Bandon Trails, is set slightly off the water and features some very tall Oregon lumber and considerable elevation changes. How good are these courses? All four are among the top 16 on Golf Digest’s Top 100 Public Courses in America. The Lodge, which overlooks the Bandon Dunes course, will cover all your patio cocktail, bar snacks, and upscale restaurant needs. And when it’s time for a whiskey and a game of billiards or poker, there’s the oaky ambiance of the cigar-friendly Bunker Bar.
The deal: July–September lodging is about $450 a day per man. A round of golf is $250. Those prices drop to $350/$200 in spring and fall. If you have the stones to tee it up from late November to mid-April, three-day packages including breakfast and dinner can be had for $600–$935 a man.
Best for: A dedicated small group of serious golfers. If you have a foursome, book a four-bedroom, four-bathroom cottage at the Grove, just down the hill from the Lodge. At night you can throw a few logs on the outdoor fire pit and visualize the next day’s round.
Useful accessory: No matter the season, the wind can always cut through you here. The Swedish apparel company Cross makes a sporty, nonrestrictive, practically impenetrable windbreaker. They’re Scandinavian, so they know from cold.