Mark Twain once said golf is a good walk spoiled. But for those of us silly enough to play this frustrating game (over and over), it really is a way of life. We practice, we play, we read, and we watch, and if you live in a winter clime, you think about it all winter long. Sometimes, you just need to get somewhere warm so you can be back on the golf course for a few days. For travelers passionate enough to devote an entire vacation to the game of golf, we’ve teed up 5 of the best golf trips we know of. Here’s the leaderboard.
Links Golf in the Bahamas
Is there ever a bad time to go to the Bahamas? The answer is no, there isn’t. With warm winter months and warmer summer months, you can’t really make a bad decision – though there is less rainfall during the winter, so that could prove to break the tie. One of our favorite places to stay in style is the exclusive barefoot luxury Abaco Club on Winding Bay, not only for its private, two-mile walking beach under the warm Bahamas sun, but for a whole host of other activities this true sporting club encourages. Water people can choose – or rotate – between kayaking, sailing, snorkeling, bonefishing, deep-sea fishing, and more out on Winding Bay’s clear turquoise waters. Other up-tempo activities include the state-of-the-art fitness center or the championship tennis courts. For less active types, the Club’s full service spa is luxurious, relaxing, and rejuvenating. With so much to do, you’ll want to book an extended stay. And once you get here, you’ll never want to leave.
Where to Golf
The golfers in the group will be ecstatic about the Club’s links-style course. This course will remind you of classic Irish and Scottish tracks, only without the inclement weather that can easily ruin a perfectly good round. The world’s first of its kind in a tropical location, the course makes the most of its seaside setting, with several of its holes (6, 7, 17, 18) running alongside the water. Pot bunkers dot the fairways and will need to be avoided with accurate tee shots. Approach shots may be your biggest challenge at Abaco, where you’ll require precision to navigate the undulated, unlevel greens and their many runoffs.
Where to Stay
The Adirondack villa sleeps up to 10, perfect for housing a multi-family or multi-couple holiday over Spring Break or Christmas. The villa is beachfront with private pathway access, making the beach practically yours. Still, you may prefer the bird’s eye view of the ocean from your private rooftop deck. In addition to the Club’s shared pool and water sport activities, The Adirondack also has its own heated pool surrounded by an outdoor living and entertaining area, lounge and dining areas, and a barbecue.
No matter what you want to do on your vacation – whether it’s go, go, go on the water, sitting back and relaxing with a drink, or playing 36 holes a day – Abaco Club will have you hooked to its lifestyle in no time.
Desert Golf in Scottsdale
If you’re looking for classic desert golf, look no further than Scottsdale, Arizona. Scottsdale is a golf haven that should be near the top of every golfer’s vacation list for the sheer number of world-renowned courses to choose from. If you’re not used to the desert – and even if you are – you should avoid the summer as it is way… too… hot. Aim to go in April or May for gorgeous 70-80 degree days.
Where to Stay
A golf trip this good deserves a home to match. We recommend Pinnacle Peak villa, named after the mountain near which it resides, and Sonoran Sunset, a deluxe vacation rental with a desert feel. Within The Rocks Club’s gated community, you will have access to many of the club’s amenities. If you’ve brought the family along and they don’t play golf, they’ll have plenty to do while you’re out on the course. Your wife (or husband) can relax in the spa, read by the pool, work out in the fitness center, or unwind with a massage treatment. The kids can keep busy all day by registering in the club’s kid’s program. After your round, you can mingle in the billiards room, on the cigar terrace, or at the bar. At Rocks, you will be a golfer among golfers, with whom you can trade stories from that day’s round, tell about your country club back home, and even pair with for the next day’s tee time.
Where to Golf
Our favorite part about Pinnacle Peak is its proximity to Troon North Golf Club, your home course for the duration of your trip. Just a two-minute drive from your villa, the British Open Champion Tom Weiskopf design features 36 holes as good as you’ll find in the country, so you could spend an entire week here without tiring of the terrain. Each of its 18s is ranked among Golf Magazine’s Top 100 Golf Courses You Can Play. That would be Pinnacle (ranked 25th) and Monument (ranked 58th). Pinnacle is the tougher of the two; a tight par 71 which has been redesigned to resemble a links course where you don’t return to the clubhouse until the 18th. Monument offers stunning mountain views and two drivable par 4s. Its signature hole is the par 5 3rd, which has a large boulder planted in the middle of the fairway right at your landing spot, forcing you to lay up, go left or right, or fly it if you’re a true bomber. Thankfully, as a Rocks Club member, you’ll have preferred access to tee times.
This trip doesn’t end with a tap-in putt on the 18th green. Players can have plenty of fun off the course too. Expand your horizons and partake in a transformative and unique class: Yoga for Golfers. YFG is exactly what it sounds like, and it promises to leave you with a better body and a whole new approach to your golf swing. Of course, relaxation is the name of the game back at your private villa, where the charming back lounge area is surrounded by picturesque desert landscape. There’s also a hot tub just waiting for you to slide in, lay back, and watch the stars.
Where to stay in Scottsdale: Pinnacle Peak
Family Golf Trip in Jamaica
Tryall Club is a no-brainer for your next family vacation in Jamaica. Whether it’s the natural Jamaican beauty, the 2,200 acres of exclusive privacy, or the stunning villas with world-class service that brought you here, all three of them will make you want to stay forever. As a part of this quiet, gated resort community, you and your family will feel right at home. Navigating the resort is as fun as it is easy. You can jump on the complimentary shuttle which will take you anywhere on the estate, or you can use your own personal golf cart which will be waiting for you outside your property. Speaking of golf…
Where to Golf
Your stay at Tryall Club provides you a one-week golf membership card at a reduced cost. The beautiful oceanside golf course blends right into the resort, with a par 3 hugging the tennis courts and tee boxes practically backing onto the beach. We have a hard time figuring out whether the course was built into the resort, or the resort was built around the course. In a way, at Tryall Club you’re always on the golf course and you certainly don’t have to go very far to start your next round. For the golfers in the family, that’s what makes this Jamaican estate perfect for a family trip. Without the commute to the course – and since the club is private and doesn’t get packed – an afternoon of golf can be all said and done in fewer than four hours.
Meanwhile, there is no shortage of other activities at Tryall Club. The resort has its own private beach; in fact, it has two – a regular beach and a quiet beach, plus the Beach Cafe, serving lunch and dinner, indoors and out. Kids aged 5-12 can join the Kid’s Club program, where they can spend their days playing beach games, doing arts and crafts, face painting, doing a scavenger hunt, winning sandcastle competitions and learning the art of tie-dye. Tennis is as much a way of life at Tryall as golf is, and with nine courts (four Agile Turf, five Nova Cushion) and 24 pros, everyone is welcome to enjoy the Club’s pristine facilities.
The twisting and winding 18 holes have hosted PGA and LPGA events for years, including the Johnnie Walker World Championships five consecutive years that were won by no less than Fred Couples (twice), Ernie Els, Nick Faldo, and Larry Mize. The signature oceanside fourth hole is a windy par 3 with the Flint River just before the green forcing you to take an extra club. The spectacular seventh forces you to play your tee shot right through the stone pillars of a 200-year-old aqueduct. To make things even more exciting, your family members can watch you tee off from your private villa, situated directly beside the seventh tee.
Where to Stay
Pineapple House is your home for the week. Its funky, fruit-inspired design is as refreshing as its private swimming pool and the tropical cocktails you’ll be sipping. (The house drink is ‘Pineapple Painkiller – don’t hold back!) Your gracious and attentive staff at Tryall Club includes a private, on-site chef working out of your private kitchen at Pineapple House. The indoor dining area has seating for 10 to accommodate a larger party, but we suggest opting for al fresco dining, also with room for 10.
Find out more about Pineapple House
Guys’ Golf Week in Lake Tahoe
If you’ve always considered Lake Tahoe simply a winter destination for powdery snow, great skiing and picturesque views, you’ve never been there in summer. Cutting through the California-Nevada border, the lake and its surrounding region should be high on your list when planning your next for-the-boys weekend this season. As well-rounded as it gets, Lake Tahoe has trails ready to be hiked, beaches ready to be lounged on, lakes ready to be paddled, and of course, golf courses ready for you and your friends to conquer – or at least try.
Where to Golf
We suggest two tracks within 25 minutes of your villa (more on that in a second). Old Greenwood, at the Tahoe Mountain Club, is a Jack Nicklaus design – and you can never go wrong with a Nicklaus design. In the mountains near North Lake Tahoe, its tree-lined fairways will give you the feel of being secluded on every hole. Of course, you might also lose a few balls in the mess, so bring plenty! While your eyes are peeled, don’t be surprised if you run into Tahoe Mountain Club members, legendary Swedish golfer Annika Sorenstam and gold-medal snowboarder Shaun White. Just a few miles west down the I-80, you’ll run into Coyote Moon Golf Course (pictured above) another secluded mountain course amidst tall pine trees. Its mountain air is refreshing and its views are stunning, helped by the fact there is not a single home on the golf course. Out here on this former PGA tour player Brad Bell design, you’ll approach many greens staring at bunkers, lakes, and trees. At times, you’ll have the feeling you’re completely alone on this golf course because you’re so far removed from civilization. Consult your Luxury Retreats concierge for help getting the tee time you want at each of these great courses.
Where to Stay
Any guys’ trip needs its own retreat. Evergreen Retreat is a ski lodge style cabin with modern amenities and a beautiful forest location with mountain views. It has four adult bedrooms, though one has two double beds instead of a king or queen. (Your foursome can play for it!) Just 12 minutes from Lake Tahoe, you’re best to visit at summer’s end – think July or August for warm weather and low precipitation. Your stay at Evergreen affords you access to Tree House, a Mountainside community connecting you to the outdoors through hiking, biking, kayaking, and more, as well as Tahoe Mountain Club, with swimming, fishing, tennis, and much more for members.
After a long day of 18, 27, or 36 holes, your group can relax back at your private villa on the balcony or around the backyard fire pit while cooking up some of your favorites on the barbecue. If you still have energy, the Lake Tahoe area has an abundance of great restaurants and casinos at which to spend your night. You’ll want to get a good night’s rest – tomorrow’s tee time is early and the loser has to buy the first round!
For the Serious Golfers: Big Island
Nothing makes a golf trip quite like staying right on the course. If you’ve always been envious of the homeowners that live alongside the fairways of your home club, you’ll get the chance to live your dream for a week at Mauna Kea Resort. With daytime temperatures between 75 and 90 degrees fahrenheit all year round, there is no bad time to visit Big Island. And we all know Hawaii offers some of the world’s best golf.
Where to Golf
Leave the fairweather golfers at home for this one – this trip is meant to be enjoyed with true enthusiasts only. This is a 36-holes-a-day kind of vacation. To start off, you’ll want to make sure your game is sharp. We have good news: Hapuna Golf Course has all the world-class facilities you need to get your game where it needs to be as fast as possible, or to tie up some loose ends throughout the week. Beat balls at the driving range, hone your short game on the putting and chipping greens, and have a blast exploding out of the practice bunkers. If you’d rather get help from the experts, lessons are available from PGA pros. Especially if you’re visiting in the winter from cold weather, it may be a good idea to spend your first day at One Day Golf School to shake the rust off.
Once you’re ready to take the first tee, you’ll find a brilliant Arnold Palmer/Ed Seay design that challenges your skills as well as it mystifies your senses. In true Arnie fashion, some of the course’s best holes are par 5s that will tempt you to be bold just like he was. All four of the par 5s are reachable in two for long hitters. Hey, you’re on vacation – go for it! The signature par 4 is the 12th, with an elevation of almost 700 feet and a memorable view of Maui in the distance. You can see the Pacific Ocean from every hole. We’ll say that again – you can enjoy wonderful, spectacular Big Island views of the Pacific Ocean from every hole. Now that’s golf in Hawaii. The ocean vistas make the Hapuna 18 a pleasant walk, though you should make a point to try out golf’s newest innovation: GolfBoards. (Purists, do not click!)
To round out your golf-centric weekend (and to improve your game for the long haul), you should enroll in a special half-day school available to all levels called “Master the Mental Game.” The course is offered by Darrin Gee, creator of Spirit of Golf Academy, named by Golf Magazine as one of the top golf schools in America. Darrin’s philosophy is a complete approach to the game of golf, blending the mental game with your natural swing.
Where to Stay
The icing on the cake for this getaway is found through the gates of the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel, where you’ll find your private villa: Wai ‘Ula ‘Ula Estate. Situated between the 12th and 14th fairways, this gem offers luxurious open-plan living that is perfect for feeling like you’re a part of the golf course. Cook an early dinner on the BBQ while golfers are still rolling through, and eat at the covered outdoor dining table. You’re spoiled with elevated ocean, mountain, and sunset views, but you’ll have one eye on the course at all times as golfers play their shots right through your backyard. Thankfully, these views can be enjoyed from your infinity swimming pool, hot tub, or porch.
Find out more about Wai ‘Ula ‘Ula Estate 411