by Jason Deegan
The recipe for the perfect golf resort is fairly simple. Take at least two world-class golf courses, preferably courses that host major golf tournaments or are designed by legendary architects. Sprinkle in luxurious amenities — a nice hotel, a spa and pool complex to keep mom and the children happy and a handful of excellent restaurants to feed everybody. These pieces must be woven together upon a dramatic canvas supplied by Mother Nature. Only a handful of golf resorts in America can deliver all these ingredients. Here are five of my favorites:
1. Pebble Beach Resorts, Monterey Peninsula,California
It’s a serious splurge to play the Pebble Beach Golf Links. To play the five-time U.S. Open venue along Stillwater Cove requires a two-night stay at the Lodge at Pebble Beach or the Inn at Spanish Bay ($750 per night and up) to reserve the $495 tee time. Those lucky enough to afford it will love the tour of 17-Mile Drive, the seaside town of Carmel and the resort’s other two courses on the Pacific Ocean, the Links at Spanish Bay and Spyglass Hill.
2. Sea Island Resort, St. Simons Island, Georgia
Sea Island — an hour north of Jacksonville, Fla. — has blossomed into a haven for PGA Tour pros, a trend started by Davis Love III. They are attracted by the instructors, fitness gurus and practice facilities at the Golf Performance Center, set right on the Saint Simons Sound next to The Lodge. Resort guests can choose between five-star accommodations The Cloister or The Lodge. Sea Island’s Seaside and Plantation courses will host the PGA Tour’s McGladrey Classic this fall. Seaside, a par 70 redesigned by Tom Fazio in 1999, explores the beauty of the coastal marshlands.
3. The American Club, Kohler, Wisconsin
An hour north of Milwaukee seems an unlikely location for a world-class golf resort. The money of Herb Kohler and magic of Pete Dye made it happen, with an assist from the scenic shores of Lake Michigan. Dye built four menacing courses, the Straits and Irish courses at Whistling Straits and the Meadows Valley and River courses at Blackwolf Run. More than 1,000 bunkers and daunting dunes litter the walking-only Straits course. TV coverage of the 2015 PGA Championship and 2020 Ryder Cup will showcase the spectacular scenery of the Straits course along the lake. The American Club’s diverse selection of restaurants and award-winning Kohler Waters Spa are off-the-charts good.
4. Pinehurst Resort & Country Club, Pinehurst, North Carolina
Dating to 1895, Pinehurst is one of golf’s historical hubs in America. The resort, home to eight courses in the Sandhills, has hosted many elite tournaments on Pinehurst No. 2, including the U.S. Open, U.S. Women’s Open, PGA Championship, Ryder Cup Matches and TOUR Championship. The Donald Ross course plays better than ever after a 2011 restoration by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw. Fazio’s redesign of Pinehurst No. 4 and his Pinehurst No. 8 layout would be headliners at most other places. The charming village of Pinehurst takes guests back in time. Be sure to stop for a drink at the Pine Crest Inn, where you can chip golf balls into the fireplace. The rooms in the Carolina Hotel, the epicenter of the resort, and Holly Inn, located in the village, are cozy but elegant in their décor.
5. Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, Bandon, Oregon
Confession: I’ve never been to remote Bandon Dunes, but every story I’ve heard paints a glorious picture of walking with caddies along the Pacific Ocean. Playing Bandon Dunes by architect David McLay Kidd and Pacific Dunes by Tom Doak deliver the most authentic links golf experiences in America. Bandon Trails by Crenshaw and Coore and Old MacDonald by Doak and Jim Urbina both rank among the top U.S. public courses as well. The massive punchbowl putting green and Bandon Preserve, a 13-hole par-3 course, provide endless fun for golfers who just can’t get enough of the game.
JASON DEEGAN, who lives in northern California, is a senior staff writer with GolfAdvisor.com, a website owned by The Golf Channel that provides stories and customer reviews of golf courses around the world. Deegan has written about and photographed more than 750 courses in 14 countries.