Cougar Point is one of five courses making up Kiawah Island Golf Resort. Famed South African golf professional Gary Player — many others have tried to emulate his signature walk-through swing — originally designed the course in 1976, opening as Marsh Point. In 1996 Player returned to Kiawah to redesign the course, keeping the same footprint and renaming it Cougar Point. Oak trees line the course, and the Kiawah River runs through several scenic holes. The back nine features a great deal of water protecting the greens for added difficulty.
O n nearly every golfer’s list of top courses to play in North America, The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort boasts the most oceanside holes in the Northern Hemisphere, including 10 along the Atlantic Ocean and another eight running alongside these. Designer Pete Dye’s wife, Alice, suggested raising the holes to dune height so golfers could see the Atlantic with unobstructed views. What Mrs. Dye did not consider was how the wind would wreak havoc with players and their shots. It is said no other golf course in the world, outside of Ireland, experiences more wind, often adding up to an eight-club difference to any shot.
Sometimes you just have to take a day and play golf, so I rounded up Mark Lane and Christopher Ottaunick (Yammi) of Global Traveler’s Advisory Board for a threesome and booked a tee time through golfnow.com at Royce Brook Golf Club’s East Course. Torrential rain hit the area the night before, so we knew the course would be wet, but did not anticipate the circuitous routes we had to take due to road closures from the flooding Raritan River.
© FRANCIS X. GALLAGHER
If North Port, Florida, sounds familiar, it is likely due to the disappearance and murder of Gabby Petito last year. Brian Laundrie, her fiancé, ended his days not far into the Carlton Reserve, part of Myakka River State Park. The park is a mecca for hiking, kayaking and spotting animals like alligators and birds. Heron Creek Golf & Country Club lies south of the park in a residential community.
In 2020 we felt Cream Ridge Golf Course was the perfect place to meet for the annual Turkey Bowl during COVID with its easy access from New York and Philadelphia. In 2021 we decided to try a reboot of the course and found the weather was far from our friend. Participants were dropping like flies as the date approached and the forecast predicted nearly freezing temperatures and wind gusts up to 35–40 mph. Even old standbys, like myself and Chris Ottaunick (also known as Yammi and our staff photographer), were second-guessing. When I turned in Thanksgiving evening, I assumed we would cancel.
A frequently played course on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, The Pointe Golf Club lies just north of the Wright Memorial Bridge in Powells Point. The course was designed by Russell Breeden, a prolific golf course architect who left his mark all along the Carolinas. Breeden is not one of the most notable designers, but he earned respect in the inner sanctum of golf for carving courses that are equally challenging and fair for nearly any level of player. He was known as a hands-on designer, often seen behind an earth-moving machine rather than at the drafting table.
I have flown back and forth to the Sarasota area over the past 15 months, scouting office locations as we continue to grow our footprint even through the pandemic. I try my best to squeeze in a few rounds of golf here and there to keep my game in somewhat decent form. On one of these trips I was lucky to find a displaced golfer from Boston (via Ireland) spending the COVID period in Florida while transitioning to a new position in the U.A.E. It is always good to have a fellow golfer to tee up and play some new courses with. We have played early in the morning and late in the afternoon, and it has worked well around my schedule. This morning, we secured an early tee time at Esplanade at Azario, part of the Lakewood Ranch complex.
Golf course architect Ron Garl, who has designed countless courses in Southern Florida and all over the world, designed University Park. Garl understands the tradition of the game while appreciating the playability and what is required as a course owner and operator. University Park, a 27-hole facility in Sarasota County, offers a wide range of services and a fully stocked clubhouse and pro shop. Head PGA golf pro Ashley Hayden welcomed us when we arrived. Ashley and I had already enjoyed an email banter about his roots in the United Kingdom. Ashley came to the United States when he was 14, so he claims to be an American who just talks funny. As I spent a large part of my career with a British company, we got on famously.
The Concession Golf Club is the preeminent private course and club in Western Florida and often ranks among the top courses in the entire state. Anyone familiar with Florida golf knows this is quite a competitive list; Florida boasts some of the best courses in the country. Add the positive effects of the pandemic on the golf industry — the latest numbers show a massive uptick in play — and you have a dynamite mix for success. Membership director Hunter Talcott spoke with me at length when we played the course last month. He confirmed the great growth of golf during COVID and felt this was a sustainable level that will continue well after the crisis is behind us. “Everyone is moving to Florida, and golf is benefiting,” Hunter said. This is evidently true, as we were joined for the round by Frank Wood, a recent Connecticut transplant and digital learning executive, and Wayne Tallman of Global Traveler’s Advisory Board, who was spending the winter months in Sarasota. The overall openness of the state and the great ability to be outdoors make Florida attractive.
Cream Ridge Golf Course has been a perfect spot to meet clients and friends from New York and Philadelphia. Just off Route 195, it is close to home and fairly easy to get to.
In 2004 Lower Makefield Township, Pennsylvania, purchased 168 acres of land that was an original part of the Penn Grant made to Thomas Bond (circa 1718). The stone Manor House on the property is a registered historical landmark and reminds players of the significant history of the area.
In May, as golf courses were just beginning to reopen, I scanned the internet and failed time and time again to book a foursome until I came across The Architects Golf Club in Lopatcong, New Jersey. The course is more than an hour from my home and nearly equidistant for two other players in our group: Chris (Yammi) Ottaunick, driving from Long Island, New York, and Mark (Marky) Lane, driving from northeastern New Jersey. Jim ( Jimmy) Bolger joined us and took the trek with me. All these gents serve on the Global Traveler Advisory Board. We had an early start with a 7:04 a.m. tee time. All sorts of rules were in play due to COVID-19. We were told we could not share a cart (this rule no longer applies), the clubhouse was temporarily closed, and groups teeing off were spaced every 15 minutes rather than 10. There were no ball washers, and the holes were plugged with cut pool noodles to stop the communal reaching in the cup or pulling the flag. (The USGA allowed flags to remain in holes for nearly two years to speed play.) There were no score cards, but I had printed out a copy, and we made do.
IT SEEMS FITTING TO REVIEW Pelican Pointe Golf and Country Club in our Green Issue, as the course architect, Ted McAnlis, did everything possible to save his own “green” by not paying his federal income taxes. McAnlis believed it was unconstitutional and used common-law trusts, a fake church, contrived Social Security numbers and a bank account in the Bahamas to avoid paying. He was, however, a prolific golf course designer in Florida and designed the Waterford Golf Club, reviewed in the July 2019 issue of Global Traveler.
IN THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC — actually, in all of the Caribbean — not many golf courses can challenge the legendary Teeth of the Dog course for “top dog” status. Most golfers agree only one comes close: Punta Espada. This oceanfront Nicklaus gem is located at Cap Cana, a 30,000-acre luxury resort/residential community about 10 minutes from Punta Cana International Airport.
THIS REVIEW OF THE UNION LEAGUE Golf Club at Torresdale is as much a look back at my career in the travel industry, dating to when (and possibly before) Antero Palo, marketing director, Finnair, won our inaugural Turkey Bowl in 1994. The Turkey Bowl means different things to different people. For some, it is a touch football game played on Black Friday, the official kick-off to the Christmas holiday shopping frenzy. To many in the travel industry, it is a golf tournament held on Black Friday among industry friends and advisory board members. The game stretches beyond the existence of Global Traveler itself.
DESIGNED BY JACK NICKLAUS, the Manele Golf Course sits on top of an ancient lava outcropping high above Hulope’e Bay. Considered one of the must-play courses in Hawai’i, it includes three holes on breathtaking cliffs where the Pacific Ocean serves as a backdrop ... and often as a water hazard. Every hole offers spectacular views, most overlooking Maui and Kaho’olawe. If you are lucky enough to play during winter months, you can see whales from the fairways and greens.
OF THE EARLIEST GOLF CLUBS in the United States, Philmont Country Club opened in 1906 when prominent business- men with nationally recognized names like Gimble and Strawbridge decided to build a country club. Its location on the Reading Railroad line made it easily accessible to the titans of Philadelphia industry. Originally offering nine holes, the course expanded to 36, consisting of the North and South courses. Concert Golf recently purchased Philmont, infusing much-needed capital and infrastructure improvements to enhance the North Course.
RANKED CONSISTENTLY AS A BEST place to play by Golf Digest, The Resort at Longboat Key Club offers 45 holes of golf, including the Links on Longboat and the Harbourside Course, the latter featuring a multitude of trees as it snakes along Sarasota Bay. You can enjoy a decent golf trip with the ability to play both courses.
WE FREQUENTLY PLAY Glen Dornoch Waterway Golf Links on our annual Myrtle Beach tour, but the course hasn’t made the pages of Global Traveler for a long time. The facility occupies 270 acres of environmentally sensitive and preserved land (due to golf) on the north side of the Grand Strand. Water features heavily on 12 of the 18 holes, and the Intercoastal Waterway threads its way around the course. Add in a little Southern charm with century-old live oaks, and you have a lovely golf experience.
OVER THE EASTER HOLIDAY, we planned a tee time at Waterford Golf Club in Venice, Florida. As the day progressed, it looked like we’d have a washout; even the course reached out to warn us of possible cancellations as record rains headed toward the region. In the morning, we checked the forecast early and called to see if our tee time could be moved up so we could get in the round prior to the storm. Course PGA professional Jack McFaul told us to come on out and the team at Waterford would make sure we got out earlier, so off we went.
THE GRANDE DUNES RESORT GOLF CLUB often appears on our must-play list when we take our annual Myrtle Beach golf excursion, but it seems it never made the pages of Global Traveler. Surprising, as it is a well-maintained and well-run course, perhaps one of the better courses we played over the five-day trip to the East Coast golf mecca. The course is part of the Founders Group of courses, many of which we played during our trip, and most boast a stellar reputation. Grande Dunes opened in 2002 during the top edge of the golf craze when courses were opening like wildflowers, with no end in sight. In 2003 Golf Digest named the course among the top 100, followed by the 2009 National Golf Course of the Year award. It hosted the PGA National Championship in 2014.
IN THEORY, IT’S IMPOSSIBLE for any resort to make everyone happy. In reality, Casa de Campo, a 7,000-acre enclave on the southeastern tip of the Dominican Republic, comes close. Owned by the sugar-producing Fanjul family, the resort has had almost 50 years to develop great hospitality and world-class facilities for tennis, polo, sporting clays and, of course, golf. There are beaches, pools, a spa, a fitness center and more than a dozen restaurants and bars. The resort is home to Altos de Chavon, a Mediterranean-style village of shops and restaurants, and a huge marina with international stores and eateries. Resort lodging ranges from airy casitas to villas with cooks and butlers. Each room/villa comes with a four-passenger golf cart.
I’VE NEVER BEFORE SAID a North American course rivals the great coastal tracks of Scotland, but I’m saying it now about Cabot Cliffs, universally ranked in the world’s top 10 since it opened in 2015. Prior to 2011, only golf purists traveled to Cape Breton Island, off the northern tip of Nova Scotia, to play Highlands Links. Opened in 1941, it’s a Stanley Thompson classic and a joy to play, but back then it was a long trip for one course. That changed in 2011 when the site of an old coal mine on the island’s west coast was reborn as Cabot Links. The Rod Whitman layout is so Scottish you can almost hear echoes of bagpipes as you walk it.
PROUDLY BOASTING ITS CLAIM as the only Jack Nicklausdesigned golf course in Los Angeles County, Angeles National sits at the base of the Angeles National Forest. The 18-hole course offers lovely views and generous fairways and, important in the thirsty California of today, plenty of water, as the greens and fairways were lush and green when we played.
DUCK WOODS IS A PRIVATE country club just over the Wright Memorial Bridge as you enter Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, the home of the first flight by Orville and Wilbur Wright. Even though the course is private, a simple call to the pro shop secures you and your group a tee time, and the club happily takes your payment. Weather conditions over the past winter took their toll on the courses in the Outer Banks, and Sea Scape and Nags Head Golf Links experienced a great deal of damage to the fairways from the cold. The conditions at Sea Scape were so bad this summer, the course offered significant discounts to play. The exception appears to be Duck Woods. Perhaps the course is just protected well enough from the elements or has an exceptional grounds crew, but the course was in pristine condition the two times I played in July. Kudos to the groundskeeper and the greens committee!
THE GRAND DEL MAR HOTEL (now a Fairmont property) opened in 2007 — not the best time to launch a luxury property — on the cusp of the recession, but it powered through and created a great resort with one of the top golf courses in Southern California. Grand Del Mar Golf Course, designed by Tom Fazio, originally opened in 1999 as part of the Meadows Del Mar. Lying in Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve just north of San Diego City, the course eventually became part of the Grand Del Mar Hotel. The private course is open only to members and hotel guests but recently opened to groups.
I RECENTLY PLAYED GOLF in Northern Michigan for the first time. It certainly won’t be my last visit to the shores of Lake Michigan and the lovely Victorian towns around Little Traverse Bay, Lake Charlevoix and Walloon Lake (where Ernest Hemingway spent his first 22 summers). We stayed one night at the historic Stafford’s Perry Hotel in downtown Petoskey, overlooking Lake Michigan, and three nights at Boyne Highlands, a delightful family ski-golf resort with four impressive courses by Robert Trent Jones, Sr. and Arthur Hills. You’ll see it on lists of top destinations for golf buddy trips — and with good reason. The resort is part of the local Boyne Golf group: three resorts with 10 championship courses, three of which rank among the state’s top 10 public access tracks.
I SEARCHED HIGH AND LOW, but it appears my annual 20-yearplus Myrtle Beach trip has not resulted in a review of the only Gary Player signature course on the Grand Strand — Blackmoor. The famous South African golfer is best known for his walk-through swing in which he begins walking forward before completing a normal swing. If you have never seen his swing, I recommend a quick internet search, as it is quite incredible. Player has become one of the best course designers, and at Blackmoor he built this Grand Strand beauty on Longwood Plantation and the Waccamaw River, once the home of a rice plantation. Those playing the course come across ancient graves that litter the sides of some holes.
TPC MYRTLE BEACH REMAINS ONE of the must-play courses for any serious golfer on an excursion to the Grand Strand. It is the site of the Senior PGA Championship won by Hall of Famer Tom Watson. Another Tom — Tom Fazio — designed the course in 1999. Fazio is considered one of the best golf course architects alive, and of the 120- plus courses he designed, more remain in the top 100 than do those of any other designer. That Fazio is a Philly native and a graduate of Lansdale Catholic High School was not lost on our nearly all-Philadelphian foursome as we played TPC. LCHS honored Fazio in 2007 at a great homecoming event, entering him into the school’s Hall of Fame.
LONG BAY GOLF CLUB is a regular on our annual trip to Myrtle Beach, as it offers challenging features including long traps and a fierce 18th hole. And if you are a herpetologist, you will find the surrounding rough and nearly every pond a garden of creatures to study. On just about every par 3, we spotted five to six snakes swimming away from us as we approached, and much to my surprise, a gigantic rat snake rested right by the hole marker on 15.
AFTER CRUISING FOR SEVEN DAYS from New York on board Norwegian Gem, we arrived at the lovely island of St. Kitts. We docked and made our way to the Marriott St. Kitts, ferried by our friendly cab driver, Mikey Marlusmd. Mikey dropped us off and we arranged a pick-up time before heading to the pro shop. “Don’t worry,” he said. “I will be here.” Although a large group of cruisers stood in line to check in, we were out the door first because we brought our own clubs, a last-minute decision. The starter saw us fumbling with our shoes and gear and suggested we tee off on Hole 13 — a brilliant move, as we were able to play holes 13–18 and then regroup on holes 10–12 to complete the back nine first and in record time.
YOU CAN ALWAYS EXPECT the unexpected from golf architects Pete and Alice Dye and their boots-on-the-ground co-conspirator, Tim Liddy. In that respect, the design team and Maggie Hardy Magerko, president, Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, are kindred spirits — and Magerko does not hesitate to finance her free-spirited imagination if it is for the good of the resort.
WHO DOESN’T LIKE A GOLF road trip, especially when it combines exciting courses with fresh seafood, scenic coastal drives and welcoming locals? Last summer I made a long-overdue pilgrimage to the eastern tip of Canada — the Maritime provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. I was drawn by the buzz about Canada’s top golf designer, Rod Whitman, who had been busy in the Maritimes. His Cabot Links layout in Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Highlands opened to high praise, and deservedly so. Drawing inspiration from the classic courses of England and Scotland, Whitman transformed a former coastal coal mine into a true links course with views of the restless Gulf of St. Lawrence from every hole. Then he collaborated with Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw on the adjacent Cabot Cliffs, Canada’s No. 1 course (Golf Digest, 2017–18). Cabot Links is No. 5, and both rank in the world’s top 100.
THE MEXICAN RESORT PLAYGROUND region of Puerto Vallarta has plenty of challenging golf courses open to the public. You must be a Punta Mita homeowner, a guest of one or a guest of the right luxury hotel, however, to play at the best course in the area: the Pacifico course at Punta Mita Golf Club near the Four Seasons Punta Mita.
TURTLE BAY RESORT is the only resort on the beautiful North Shore of Oahu, home to some of the greatest surfing in the world. For those looking for a change of pace from Honolulu’s fast-paced Waikiki Beach, it makes a perfect getaway and offers a great number of amenities. I arrived at about 4 p.m. the day before my round, checked into my lovely ocean-view room and toured the property to get the lay of the land. Down by the beach guests were enjoying a beautiful day of sun and surf in the property’s protected cove. I settled in for an early dinner at Roy’s Beach House with a delicious mai tai and some yummy sushi.
THE ELEPHANT HILLS GOLF COURSE lies directly behind the Elephant Hills Hotel and first opened for play in 1974. South African professional golfer Gary Player, known for his “walk through” golf swing, designed the course. When the course opened, it measured more than 9,200 yards from the tips and was considered one of the most challenging courses in the world.
MYRTLE BEACH IS A MECCA for golfers, where literally hundreds of golf courses sprouted up at a near fever pitch until the crash of 2007 and 2008. Some of these overnight courses disappeared and golf struggled, but it now appears to be enjoying a mini upswing.
OFTEN WHEN SWEEPING your way through Asia, ticking off destination after destination, you find yourself somewhere with a weekend to unwind between flights. On my most recent trip, Singapore happened to be that weekend spot. Certainly Singapore has much to offer, but the city-state also boasts one of the best and most highly rated public golf courses in Asia. Not only is the course well-run and in good shape, but also it lies just 10 minutes from practically every hotel in town. If you frequent any of the high-rises such as the Marina Bay Sands Hotel (not associated with the course), you can clearly see the course, developed from reclaimed land, as it stretches to the harbor, with the waiting cargo ships beyond. Wolfgang Puck’s Spago, where I celebrated my game afterward, offers a nice view.
IF YOU ARE COLLECTING spectacular views, if you enjoy watching humpback whales slapping their pectoral fins while you line up a putt and if you want a challenging game — packaged all in one place — the answer is Quivira Golf Club. I arrived after flying the Aeromexico red-eye from New York (JFK) to Mexico City (MEX) for an easy connection to Cabo (SJD). When I was repeatedly asked why I took this flight, my answer was simple: I was the only person in our group to play Quivira the first day, all 18 holes. What a little gift to myself!
OVER THE COURSE of my career, I have played more than a few rounds at Trump National Golf Club, Los Angeles. The team there has always been helpful securing tee times for travelers like myself, coming in for an extended business stay. I must give a shout out to Lili Amini, general manager, and Joey Lewis, PGA head golf professional, who have been helpful whenever I play.
A LAST-MINUTE INVITATION to a golf outing had me arriving late from Denver International Airport. I caught an Uber, and the driver drove like a madman as I tried to give directions to the Omni Interlocken Resort from my iPhone. Early the next morning, I met the team headed by Gary Huang of EVA Air; John Jermyn of American Express and Ed Henderson of Exxon Mobil completed our foursome.
I’ve promised my friends at TAP Portugal to play golf whenever I am in Portugal, and Madeira remains a golf mecca few Americans know. Fewer than 6,000 American travelers fly to Madeira a year, although Europeans have long been drawn to its tranquility and Levada Walks (mountain trails that follow chiseled water channels). I am almost reluctant to tell others about this lovely island in the Atlantic.
When business and pleasure combine, it can lead to long-lasting friendships, and this is the case with a recent game at Medinah Country Club in the Chicago suburbs. Medinah is one of the global courses on the list of every golfer who “collects” courses as if they are fine vintage wines or rare coins — a list that includes Pennsylvania’s Merion, The Old Course at St. Andrews and New Jersey’s Pine Valley. I have been lucky to play many such global courses during my career and as a global traveler.
As part of the annual Global Traveler/Trazee Travel employee conference, four of us journeyed to Northern Virginia the night before to prepare for battle with Potomac Shores Golf Club. Stonewall Jackson would have been proud of the planning that took place. Two of the team (myself and staff photographer and GT Advisory Board member “Yammi” Chris Ottaunick) completed a warm-up round in Philadelphia before marching south, another dodged cars on I-95 (Jeff Sohinki, GT ’s director of sales and marketing), and the fourth flew nearly 3,000 miles from California to Virginia (Rory Oldham, GT account manager). As they say, battles are won before they are ever fought!
In 1928 a group of New York businessmen known as “The Forty Millionaires” assigned A.W. Tillinghast to design and construct the Aldecress Golf Course on the New Jersey site that is now Alpine Country Club. One of the most prolific golf course architects of his time, Tillinghast designed 265 courses, among them The Black Course of Bethpage State Park, The Ridgewood Country Club and Winged Foot Golf Club. Global Traveler has reviewed many a Tillinghast design, including Scarsdale Golf Club (August 2009) and Sleepy Hollow Country Club (January 2015). To top it off, Tillinghast, like yours truly, was a Philadelphia native who spent most of his career in New York.
Over the last 13 years of publishing Global Traveler, I have written many golf reviews and, due to an annual trip to Myrtle Beach with childhood friends, probably covered this region more than any other in the world. Pawleys Plantation and its sister course, Willbrook Plantation, counted among the courses we played this year. I conducted a search on globaltravelerusa.com and discovered the September 2006 issue featured my review of Willbrook, which was telling.
The site of the Senior PGA Championship won by Hall-of-Famer Tom Watson, TPC Myrtle Beach remains one of the must-play courses for any serious golfer on an excursion to the Grand Strand. It is the only course on the Strand to be awarded five stars by Golf Digest, and it provides a welcome home for many traveling pros as they hone their skills. Tom Fazio designed TPC Myrtle Beach in 1999. Considered one of the best golf course architects alive, Fazio designed more than 120 courses, with more of them ranking in the top 100 than those of any other designer. We played 27 holes when we teed up on a beautiful April day in Myrtle. The foursome included Mike “Corky” Donahue, who had trouble getting his ball to fly true during his game; Jimmy “The Cop” Spratt, serious and focused but often distracted; John “IBM” Ecklund, who warmed up to the course; and me, playing my regular game of double bogeys, bogeys and pars. HOLE 1 | 377 yards, par 4 ‘Off the Bat’ Off the bat, we teed off at Hole 1, ranked the No. 9 handicapped hole at TPC. Mike, Jim and I drove well-placed shots in line for our second shot to the green on this dogleg left. Two bunkers flank the landing area left and right, and the green is deep at nearly 40 yards. John slammed a ball left and short, bouncing around the trees until it rested, making his comeback impossible. After returning to play, he landed in a bunker, adding a stroke to his score while the rest of us carded bogeys and hurried to the carts. HOLE 2 | 547 yards, par 5 ‘Wally and John’ If you are fond of alligators, this is the hole for you! Right near the spot where John drove his tee shot, a rather large gator rested, looking content and fat. I suggested John simply ask the fella to move away, but John insisted on a “drop” due to the man-eater. This beautiful par 5 requires three near-perfect shots to the green, as it wraps around the water on the left. The team, still warming up, scored a collection of bogeys and double bogeys. HOLE 9 | 472 yards, par 4 ‘Relief’ The No. 1 handicapped hole on the front nine requires two good shots to make the green while avoiding any mishaps. Your monster drive must clear the swampy brush just beyond the tee box and still carry enough gusto to take distance away from your approach. A small pond lies on the right side within driving distance. Fortunately, all four of us landed safely, favoring the left side of the fairway. The approach, uphill and elevated, makes it even more difficult, with one lone trap that caught me on the fly. We all scored bogeys, one over par, resulting in relief more than celebration.
Over my years of traveling and working in the Western United States and particularly Los Angeles, I have played a great deal of client golf. On more than one occasion, we have teed up at Strawberry Farms Golf Club in order to avoid the more crowded courses in the L.A. area or to meet at a halfway point for Orange County players. The course opened in November 1997 during the frenzied golf craze when every kid wanted to grow up to be like Tiger Woods. The number of golfers has since dwindled, but this course still attracts plenty of players — and paces them at intervals so they do not stack up. The club supplements golf revenues with weddings, and one took place when we played on a hot summer day. I commiserated with the bride and groom as they stood out in the sun in 90-degree heat. Jim Lipe, who served as a senior associate for the Jack Nicklaus golf course architect team, designed the course. The 6,700-yard, par-71 course sits amid canyons and wetlands encircling a 35-acre reservoir. The course was the dream of Doug DeCinces, former California Angels third baseman, and its construction set off a battle between developers and those favoring open space in Orange County. On a warm and sunny California day, I teed up with Rafie Iannello of Global Traveler, Gary Huang of EVA Air and Vladimir Velasco, formerly of Malaysia Airlines. HOLE 6 | 521 yards, par 5 As the author of this article, I have the prerogative to write about the holes where I outperformed myself. The last four holes on the front nine were like a string of pearls for me, carding a birdie, a par, a bogey and a par. If you can hit a series of straight balls, Hole 6 is heaven: not too long and not too difficult. Still, ranked the fifth most challenging at Strawberry Farms, it offers its hazards. Trickle left and you will be lost forever in a line of thick brush and trees. To make matters worse, a creek lies just beyond the tree line. To the right, you have options to bail out and get back in the game, but this approach can be dicey. I slammed a drive to the left center and then a second shot to the green, which made it on with a dribble. A two-putt secured my birdie while the others made a nice showing with pars and bogeys. HOLE 7 | 177 yards, par 3 Bogeys all around on Hole 7! I took a somewhat daring approach, slicing the shot on this narrow par 3 and landing safely but nearly out of bounds. Many find this long par 3 deceiving in length and underestimate the distance. HOLE 8 | 317 yards, par 4 I named this the King and I hole, as Vlad and I were singing snippets from the musical. He had just toured as the king in Japan and throughout Asia, and I had just seen the Broadway performance — Vlad probably made a better king! Both of us kings drove nearly perfect shots to the middle left of the fairway. Gary and Rafie followed with less-than-regal efforts, resulting in a stroke loss. Hole 8 intimidates from the tee box; players have to clear a section of brush and bramble before reaching the fairway. Any miss-hits and you will be re-teeing your ball. Four bunkers greet players as they reach the green, and three more surround the prize. HOLE 9 | 558 yards, par 5 The final jewel in my front nine crown meant I had to lead the pack and put together three well-hit shots to walk off the green with par and a 42 for the front nine. Five fairway bunkers await your drive and second shot, so be prepared for your approach. With a narrow throat off the tee box, you can easily stray into brush and trees lining both sides of the fairway. Gary, Vlad and Rafie all found themselves losing a stroke due to these hazards. One humongous trap shaped like a splitting amoeba sits on the left side of the green and can mean the demise of many players — like Vlad. HOLE 10 | 369 yards, par 4 This is the first of the back nine holes that rest around the 35-acre reservoir, some (like 10) with the water running alongside and others ending or beginning at the water. This makes for a nice transition between the front and back. My team tried to hug the left side with their tee shots but ended up in the drink. We launched many a mulligan in defense. The fairway rolls from right to left, so any decent drive on the right side ends up in the center of the fairway. As I recall, Vlad’s ball (one of them) cleared the water but landed in a silly uphill lie to the green, which took two shots to secure for a bogey. I was only at about 100 yards after my drive, allowing for an easy sand wedge to the green for yet another par — yes, I was having a decent day. HOLE 18 | 403 yards, par 4 A magnificent and tricky finishing hole. I knew I was scoring well, so nerves set in and I tomahawked my drive too far left, fearing I was lost in the brush. Upon inspection, my drive was sitting up fine, but my next shot required me to feather the ball around a tree and over the small brook that lies about 30 yards from the green. (A picturesque waterfall trickles down the rocks on the right side of the fairway.) Gary pulled a rabbit out of his hat and secured a par while Vlad and I came up short, leaving us with bogeys. Rafie took one extra shot for a double bogey, and we ended the hot Saturday with yet another fun round with friends under our belt. After a farewell snack, I left the California trio for my red-eye flight to the East Coast.
I was in Orlando to attend the Global Business Travel Association annual conference, held at the Orlando Convention Center. Pre-convention festivities included a madhouse scramble at ChampionsGate Golf Club as a guest of EVA Air. I teamed with EVA’s Gary Huang and Daryl Yu; Jack Jeremy of American Express joined us to complete the foursome.
As I planned the excursions on our family getaway on the Norwegian Gem cruise this winter, I thought I should try to secure a tee time at the famed Mahogany Run Golf Course in St. Thomas. After cruising the North Atlantic from New York to the Caribbean, the ship docked in St. Thomas, and Paul Gosselin joined me to hit the links. As an organized Norwegian Cruise Line excursion, transportation was provided, and three other shipmates — Dom, Dom (father and son) and Lou from the Big Apple — joined us.
I recently visited the Middle East and Asia on the same trip, a 15-day journey that allowed me to cover two important destinations before the New Year. It also left me with a weekend to visit a good friend, TK Han, president, Air Busan. We played on a Saturday morning after a terrific rainstorm soaked South Korea the day before; it was a good sign the weather cleared for our game.
After years of wishing to travel to Israel — an interest developed by 16 years of a Catholic education and meetings with people from EL AL Israel Airlines and the Israel Ministry of Tourism — I used my annual birthday trip as a reason to visit. Over cocktails with my brother, Gerald; his wife, Shelley; and my wife, Michele, I brought up this pent-up desire, and the gods set in motion a wonderful trip.
One of the greatest golf course stories to ever be told will be how the Union League of Philadelphia saved the tired, beaten Torresdale Frankford Country Club in 2014. The course, designed by one of the greatest golf course architects in history, Donald Ross, had fallen on hard times. Course membership dwindled and the upkeep and changes in the demographics of golf in the area nearly did the course in to potential development.
By Myrtle Beach golf standards, Heather Glen Golf Links is ancient. During the golf boom of the 1990s until the golf bust after the 2009 recession, courses popped up in the Myrtle Beach area like mushrooms after a summer storm. The beloved championship course at Heather Glen was born before all that, in 1987. When it opened, Golf Digest ranked it America’s No. 1 New Public Course, and it continues to enjoy a high rating in many surveys. Heather Glen is one of four courses in The Glens Group, along with Glen Dornoch, Shaftesbury Glen and Possum Trot.
The most common name in the Donegal phone book is Gallagher, so it was fitting that I found time to visit, staying at the beautiful Lough Eske Castle. It was equally important to hit the links while in Donegal to provide you with another golf report from around the world.
Ashford Castle may have its roots in 1228 when the de Burgo family conquered the O’Conner family in Connaught, but it was not until 1973 that Eddie Hackett built a golf course here. Hackett, the golf pro from Portmarnock Golf Club outside of Dublin, was considered a radical by many designers of his day, as he did not believe in the huge earth-moving projects of his contemporaries. Rather, Hackett felt it best to rely on nature as his main motivator and sculpted each of his courses with this in mind.
Pebble Beach is on nearly every golfer’s list of courses to play, ranking up there with Pine Valley and the Old Course in Scotland. I have been lucky to play the course three times, twice as the guest of Malaysia Airlines some 20 years ago and most recently as part of the Chase United MileagePlus Club Card Inside Access program.
The land El Caballero Country Club occupies was aptly owned at one time by Brig. Gen. Harrison Grey Otis, the original publisher of the Los Angeles Times and a Civil War hero who helped secure Abraham Lincoln’s bid for The White House. After his death, his estate sold the ranch to Edgar Rice Burroughs, author of the Tarzan novels, who moved into the Grey Otis home and ranch and named it Tarzana.
Nothing is more exciting than taking a day in mid-September to drive to Sleepy Hollow Country Club — a true treat, no trick, for golfers. Charles Blair MacDonald, one of the pioneers of methodical golf course engineering, designed the course. Prior to MacDonald, American courses were laid out in rudimentary fashion and mainly had nine holes. I imagine MacDonald, who studied in St. Andrews, Scotland, and was tutored in the game of golf by Old Tom Morris, was bound to become a golf course architect for the ages. MacDonald designed the first 18-hole course in the United States, The Chicago Club, and then moved to New York, where he created several masterpieces including the National Golf Links of America, which emulates the course architecture of Scotland and remains the home of the Walker Cup.
Originally chartered in May 1902 as the Delaware County Country Club, Llanerch can proudly claim to be one of the oldest golf clubs in the United States. The first 18-hole course opened in 1903, followed by several metamorphoses and merges. As the Delaware County Field Club, its mission was “to encourage all athletic endeavors.” In 1911, it joined with the Athletic Club of Philadelphia.
JP Morgan Chase credit card holders often receive invitations to one of the Chase Inside Access events, which range from dinners prepared by celebrity chefs to special events across the country. I was fortunate to experience an event at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J. Chase took over the country club and former estate of John DeLorean, famed automobile manufacturer and creator of the DeLorean car, idolized in the cult classic Back to the Future.
In the July 2014 issue of Global Traveler, I reviewed one of our all-time favorite golf courses in Myrtle Beach, The Caledonia Golf and Fish Club. Its sister course, True Blue, is a great course to complement your visit to the Caledonia/True Blue complex.
Treetops Resort has been around for quite a while and actually started as a ski resort in the 1950s. It wasn’t until the golf boom of the late 1980s and ’90s that the property added a handful of championship courses.
The Caledonia Golf and Fish Club is a favorite among most golfers who visit the Myrtle Beach area and is on the top list of places to play with my group. The course, previously a Southern rice plantation, has the true old Southern feel, with a driveway lined with live oaks and Spanish moss. Beautiful plantings throughout the course add to its charm and attraction.
When Jack Nicklaus designed the three nine-hole courses at La Paloma 30 years ago, he was still playing in the Masters and the U.S. Open. The following year, The Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa was built.
Golf is not just about getting the ball in the hole. Golf is visceral, engaging all of the physical senses — especially sight — and it is the total experience (food, drink, lodging, people, other activities) that makes you cherish the memory years later.
This is the final installment of my reviews of the courses at Barefoot Landing in Myrtle Beach, S.C. See back issues of Global Traveler for reviews of the Dye (July 2013), Love (August 2013) and Fazio (January 2014) courses. The fourth in popularity is the Norman Course, which “The Shark” designed to bring into play “bump-and-run” shots around the greens.
In 1946, members of Willowbrook Country Club in Baldwin, N.Y., learned the town elders voted to revoke their lease in order to build a new high school on the 18th green. World War II was over, and returning troops were gearing up to create the biggest financial boom ever seen on the planet — the Baby Boom.
Of the four courses at the famous Barefoot Resort and Golf in Myrtle Beach, S.C., the Fazio Course is often overshadowed. The Dye Course receives most of the fanfare, and the others — the Love, the Norman and the Fazio — often feel like the freshman whose brother was the graduating state champion.
Built in 1965, Hampton Hills Country Club is a secret hideaway in New York’s summer playground, the Hamptons. Playing the course makes you feel as if you are out in the middle of nowhere; we could not get over how quiet it was on the course.
For my second in a series about the Korean golf mecca Jeju Island (see Golf, September 2013), I hit the links at Pinx Golf Club with my Korean friends Mr. Han, Mr. Kim and Mr. Koo. The course was designed by renowned golf architect Ted Robinson, who designed more than 160 courses in his career, including Robinson Ranch outside Los Angeles and Tustin Ranch Golf Club in Orange County, Calif. Robinson died in 2008, almost 10 years after the official opening of Pinx in 1999, and is known in the industry as the “King of Waterscapes.”
It was a thrill to fly to Jeju Island. In all my years of traveling to Korea, I have heard so much about this special island. If you like seafood and Korean food, this is the place — my Korean friends say it has some of the best seafood on Earth.
What better way to celebrate golf in the Carolinas than playing a course designed by one of their native sons, Davis Love III. Barefoot Resort and Golf offers four championship courses where golfers can hit the links designed by and named for Fazio, Norman, Dye and Love. Golf Digest voted the Love Course the best in Myrtle Beach.
When I came up with the Global Traveler concept, I wanted the magazine to be written for people who take every aspect of travel and make it part of their lives, people who travel for business but also take a significant number of vacations. Many of our readers play golf with friends, when traveling and, often, to entertain clients.
Golfers, mainly from the Northeast, head to Myrtle Beach to break the ice off their swings and tune up for spring and summer. A perennial favorite of those who make the trek to the sunny beaches (some call them traps) is the Dye Course. It is part of the Barefoot Resort, which also houses the Love Course, the Norman Course and the Fazio Course; we played all during a spring fling to the south.
My good friend Robert Wells suggested we tee up on a spring Thursday at Al Badia Golf Club. From our hotel, the Address Downtown Dubai, it was a short drive to Wellsie’s home course. I met Robert about a year ago while I was a solo player at the Montgomerie Dubai. We hit it off from the start, and I enjoyed play with him and his wife, Brenda. Joining us this time was Global Traveler Advisory Board member Wayne Tallman. It was a glorious day to play, with a perfect temperature and blue skies.
Located in Burbank, Calif., DeBell is a narrow, challenging course. Many golfers find it so difficult they avoid playing here. This is the home course for Vlad Valesco (a longtime supporter of Global Traveler), and he asked me to share some of my trick shots as we navigated William Bell, William Johnson and Richard Bigler’s design. The course opened in 1959 and only measures 5,633 yards from the tips for a par 71, with a rating of 68.8 and a slope of 114 on Kikuyu grass.
Over my career, I have played the Babe course (as it is fondly known) countless times. It is named after Mildred “Babe” Didrikson Zaharias, whom ESPN ranks in the list of the top 20 best athletes of all time. The course is part of the Pacific Palms Hotel in the City of Industry, not too far from the hot spots in Los Angeles. The Pacific Palms Hotel is also home to the Ike, or Dwight D. Eisenhower Course (reviewed in Global Traveler, September 2011). While the Ike is fairly open, the Babe is just the opposite; many consider it one of the most challenging courses in Southern California. It used to be more difficult, but it appears a friendly greenskeeper cleared some of the trouble areas.
The Currituck Club is part of an Outer Banks community in Corolla, N.C., and a haven for summer visitors. This region was known for water fowl hunting, beginning in the mid-1800s; in fact, Duck, the next town south, is named for the exemplary duck hunting. The area was a favorite of the rich railroad and steel barons, who built magnificent mansions to entertain their hunting friends. The old Currituck Shooting Club, built in 1857 and rebuilt in 1879, still stands and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Every late summer, I am kindly invited to a charity golf outing at Stanton Ridge Golf and Country Club to benefit Patrick’s Pals, a great cause helping children with multiple disabilities and their families.
I recently had the pleasure of playing the Forest Course at Fiddler’s Elbow Country Club with some of my golf buddies. Located in New Jersey’s Upper Raritan Watershed, just off Route 78, the property has an interesting history as a peach orchard in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and later as a dairy farm. Finally, in 1965, Fiddler’s Elbow Country Club opened with its first 27 holes of golf.
Granite Links is so close to downtown Boston, you can make the trip from hotel to tee in 15 minutes. From the course and the clubhouse, which has an excellent restaurant, there are spectacular views of Boston, the Harbor Islands and the Blue Hills Reservation. It was a beautiful, clear, blue-sky day when we played the course — a fantastic time for a trio of guys on a break from a convention.
There could not be a more beautiful setting than Lough Erne. The Northern Ireland lake inspired Nick Faldo to choose this site for his first golf course design. Complementing the course is Northern Ireland’s first 5-star hotel, which has every amenity — including the Catalina Restaurant, where Executive Head Chef Noel McMeel’s creations emphasize fresh, seasonal and local produce. The restaurant is named after the World War II Catalina flying boats that used the lake as a base.
Golf was first played at Le Zoute in 1899 as an offshoot of the Bruges Golf and Sports Club; Henry Colt redesigned the course as the Knocke Golf Club in 1909. The owners, Compagnie du Zoute, built a clubhouse on the highest dune which, because of the climb to reach it, became known as the Monkey House.
The friendly Montgomerie staff set me up for “Four Ball” with Alex, Brenda and Rob, expatriates of Australia and the United Kingdom. Feeling a little rusty despite playing a few rounds in China the week before, I wanted to hit a few drives at the range. Pleased with my performance, I met up with the other players at the first tee.
It is no surprise American golfers discovered the Royal Portrush Golf Club, Northern Ireland’s gem along the Atlantic. Almost every survey lists its Dunluce Course among the best, and Golf Magazine ranked it No. 12 in the world. This January, much to the shock and delight of everyone in Northern Ireland, Royal Portrush was selected as the site of the 2012 Irish Open, being held at the end of June. It’s been more than 60 years since Northern Ireland hosted the tournament, at Belfast’s Belvoir Park Golf Club in 1949. This is a sign of the positive changes in Northern Ireland since the Good Friday Peace Agreement of 1998.
I try to find golf experiences when I travel, and playing a course rich in history like The Delhi Golf Club — right in the heart of the city next to the Oberoi Hotel and within minutes of the Taj — is an excellent option.
In Wales — renowned for links courses fringed by windswept dunes bordering the sea — Celtic Manor’s parkland Twenty Ten Course boasts iconic status as the tough turf of the 38th Ryder Cup, dangling thrills galore for golfers testing their mettle in the paths of star players.
In the charming, Mayberry-esque town of Pine Mountain, Ga., is Callaway Gardens, a legendary golf experience surrounded by a 13,000-acre, year-round resort, residential community and preserve.
Jasna Polana, which means “bright meadows” in Polish, is the former estate of J. Seward Johnson (of the Johnson & Johnson family) and his wife, Barbara Piasecka Johnson. She was Johnson’s third wife — a poor chambermaid who came to America from Poland in 1960 and became the 49th-richest person in the world. After the death of her husband, Mrs. Johnson leased the estate to the Tournament Players Club in 1986 to turn the 230 acres into a fantastic golf course designed by our favorite “all-in-black” player from South Africa, Gary Player.
Primland Resort near Meadows of Dan, Va., is a pocket of opulence surrounded by 12,000 acres of wilderness. It’s a sportsman’s club, a golf retreat, a honeymoon haven and a luxurious hotel — an intriguing mix that has drawn me back many times since the resort’s Highland Course opened in 2006.
Industry Hills, Calif., Industry Hills Golf Club At Pacific Palms, The Ike Course And Babe Didrikson Zaharias Course
For years, I have played this 36-hole combination of courses in Southern California. The Industry Hills Golf Club at Pacific Palms is a public course with a private feel, and it is rather easy to secure a tee time. I have played both courses — the Dwight D. Eisenhower (Ike) Course and the Babe Didrikson Zaharias Course — and find them both very challenging. The Babe, named after the famed female athlete, is a little shorter but very narrow and difficult. The Ike, named after the former president and general, is longer and equally as challenging. One recent Sunday morning, I played a round at the Ike with some industry colleagues.
When the Ryder Cup came to Celtic Manor last fall, it marked a first for Wales, the mostly mountainous country on the southwest coast of the sceptered isle. Rugby may be the national pastime, but for several wet, windy days in early October, crowds descended on the capital, Newport, for golf’s greatest team tournament. Celtic Manor’s Twenty Ten Course, a 7,493-yard, par-71 parklands layout, was custom-made for the event. Nine new holes designed by European Golf Design were combined with nine from the pre-existing Wentwood Hills championship course designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr. The result: a blend of British and American styles with thick rough, deep bunkers and plenty of water — or as its architects put it, “a bit of Augusta, a bit of Florida, and a lot of Wales.”
The North Sound Club, formerly the Links at SafeHaven Grand Cayman — the only 18-hole championship course in the Cayman Islands — was designed by Roy Case of New Jersey National and Carenage Bay Canouan Grenadines fame. He’s known for creating great golf on environmentally sensitive land and working with the natural topography. At North Sound, one hole takes you by the ocean and the others pass saltwater ponds in an open layout filled with native mahogany and coconut trees and bright-colored bougainvillea.
Curaçao, Netherland Antilles, Hyatt Regency Curaçao Golf Resort, Spa & Marina, Old Quarry Golf Course
The Smeets family, a banking legacy in Curaçao, had a dream — to develop a beachfront parcel into a recreational mecca far beyond anything the Dutch protectorate of the Netherland Antilles had ever seen. They had their eye on some land that had been part of a 19th-century limestone quarry. Even today, hole markers are made from huge slabs of limestone and ancient quarrying equipment decorates areas of the course.
The Nicklaus Course at Bay Point is the only Jack Nicklaus-designed course in northwest Florida. It is the tougher of the two courses at the Marriott’s Bay Point Golf Resort & Spa; the other course is the Meadows.
Ranked No. 1 in Hawaii and No. 18 in the United States by Golf Magazine, the course at Mauna Kea Beach Hotel has what it takes to be one of my favorites. In fact, it is the first course to be reviewed twice in Global Traveler — warranted by its $175 million renovation after the 2006 earthquake that centered very close to the property.
The Muttontown Club was established 45 years ago and is one of the most distinguished and superb courses on all of Long Island. The course opened in 1962; and the elegant Georgian mansion, which serves as the clubhouse, is steeped in history.
Most golf courses are inanimate objects, things of beauty that stand still, waiting for golfers to find the course and their game. This is not the case with Chester Valley Golf Club, which has a history of movement unheard of at any other course I have played.
As a frequent traveler to the Outer Banks, I have played nearly every course within a stone’s throw of my base, Kitty Hawk. Kilmarlic Golf Club, located just over the bridge connecting the mainland to Kitty Hawk and the rest of the Outer Banks, is within reach for beachgoers desiring a round of golf while on vacation.
When golf courses as good as Oregon’s Bandon Dunes come along — as they do every century or so — it’s difficult to describe them because writers have already exhausted all the superlatives in characterizing other, far lesser golf courses. A layout such as Bandon Dunes calls for an entirely new vocabulary. It is that rare locale which induces a sweet and delicious nostalgia and somehow returns us to ourselves. Just looking upon this collaboration of nature and design makes you want to wave your arms and run wildly down the fairways yodeling nonsense syllables into the sea air.
The Sir Henry Cotton Championship Course was the first course built in the Algarve and therefore is steeped in history. The course has hosted the Daily Telegraph Senior Match Play (2000, 2001) and the Portuguese Open for 10 years. Nearly every golfer visiting the region knows of the course, which opened in 1966 and was totally renovated in 1995. The renovation remained true to the Cotton design.
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Most golf courses are inanimate objects, things of beauty that stand still, waiting for golfers to find the course and their game. This is not the case with Chester Valley Golf Club, which has a history of movement unheard of at any other course I have played.
The moment your backswing is interrupted by the tinny, electrically amplified song of the Muslim call to prayer, you know you’re not golfing at Pinehurst any more. Although it doesn’t register yet as a golf destination for most Americans, Turkey — particularly the town of Belek on the Mediterranean Coast — has become the new “it” place for Northern Europeans looking for a combination of 5-star hotels and great golf variety at reasonable prices.
The Beijing Grand Canal Golf Club is owned by the Beijing Tourism Group and managed by the Grand Hotel, Beijing. The hotel can easily arrange your tee time and transportation to the course. The course is located by the Tongzhou Canal, 30–40 minutes from the city center — close enough to the Third Ring Road that you can play before or after your flight at the Beijing Capital Airport (PEK). Rental clubs are available; and the large clubhouse, designed to mimic an imperial temple of heaven, has restaurants, a pro shop and full locker facilities.
Philadelphia has long been home to some of the best golf courses in the world, including Merion, Aronimink and Pine Valley. There is a sleeper course, not known to many, that is just as good as these courses, if not better: Rolling Green Golf Club.
The Grand Del Mar in San Diego, voted by Global Traveler readers as the Best Hotel in the United States, may have won due to The Grand Golf Club, which adds a great deal to the property. The Tom Fazio-designed course originally opened in 1999 as part of the Meadows Del Mar, a private residential community. In 2003, the course was purchased as part of The Gra
Twin Warriors Golf Club, set in the high desert outside of Albuquerque, N.M., winds its way around 20 ancient Native American cultural sites and features beautiful grassy knolls and ridges dotted with juniper and piñon pine trees. Dry washes, or arroyos, run along the sacred butte known as Tuyuna, or Snakehead, adding to the stunning vistas of the Sandia Mountains.
The Leatherstocking Golf Course sweeps along the western edge of Lake Otsego in the quintessentially American town of Cooperstown, N.Y. — home to the Baseball Hall of Fame and historic home of James Fenimore Cooper, author of the legendary Leatherstocking Tales. The town, the course and the vintage Otesaga Resort Hotel transported me back to a simpler time when the pace of life was slower and meant to be savored.
Weihai Point, overlooking the Yellow Sea in China’s Shandong province, is, in a word, spectacular. The peninsula — anything but flat — juts nearly two miles into the roaring sea and is the width of almost two 400-yard holes. The terrain consists of sheer cliffs with heights between 35 and 100 feet. The local climate, almost arid, is suitable for year-round play — although cold weather and fierce winds can challenge golfers in the winter months.
To reach the world’s longest golf course, one must travel a long way. For me, this meant a flight southwest across China from Shanghai to Kunming, capital of Yunnan Province. And from Kunming it was still another hop, a short one, to the village of Lijiang, a place of myth and fable now preserved as a UNESCO World Heritage site. My long journey ended at the Banyan Tree Lijiang. This top-notch villa resort shimmers like a mirage on the high, remote, nearly empty Yunnan plateau. There the Banyan Tree staff had already booked a tee time and taxi for Jade Dragon Snow Mountain Golf Course the next morning.
Bermuda’s Port Royal Golf Course — a course I played some 15 years ago — has a whole new look. A recent $14.5 million makeover got the course in shape to host the PGA Grand Slam — Bermuda’s high point in golf — in October. Port Royal will again host the event in 2010.
Pine Lakes’ location on Granddaddy Drive is quite fitting, as the course, built in 1927, is the granddaddy of all the courses on Myrtle Beach’s Grand Strand. Robert White, the PGA’s first president, designed the course and encompassed the area’s natural dunes into the layout. The course recently underwent a massive renovation which included moving holes and bringing much of the course back to White’s original vision. While the course is on the National Register of Historic Places, it is still up-to-date for today’s game.
This month’s column is unique, as it was written while I was participating in the Jumeirah Cup — a Ryder Cup-formatted championship in which Jumeirah Hotels and Resorts’ clients from the United States and the United Kingdom battled on the greens of Scarsdale Golf Club. As if that wasn’t enough for an exciting and challenging weekend, Jumeirah’s Ambassador, championship golfer Rory McIlroy, played a few holes with each foursome, offering tips on our game. Rory was in New York to play the U.S. Open at Bethpage Black.
Hills are a rarity in Dallas, so you might believe you are in North Carolina as you look out over this 159-acre Jeffery Brauer course, which incorporates the unusual hilly topography and surrounding woodlands. I was amazed by the dramatic elevation changes and views of the reservoir dam at various points during play. An added bonus: The course is only about 15 minutes from Dallas/ Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), so you can land and play!
The River Club opened in 1985 at the southern end of the Grand Strand in Pawleys Island, S.C. The Tom Jackson design features bent-grass greens which, as advertised, play true and fast. Housing is located throughout the course but is generally well distanced from the lines of play.
Montesoro leaves a good impression on golfers with its beauty and impeccable condition. The reason is quite simple: It is a private course. Guests of the Borrego Springs Ranch and Spa have access, but only a limited number of golfers are allowed on the course at any one time — when we played, we never had to stop and wait at any hole.
Over the past 20 years of entertaining clients in Los Angeles, I have chosen Malibu Country Club as a venue more times than I can recall. Although it is a public course, it has the feel of a private facility. You can join their client list and reserve tee times well in advance, and the greens are just about as good as those on private courses. The clubhouse could use renovation, but playing the course is truly relaxing and fun.
The Jockey Club Kau Sai Chau, the only public golf course in Hong Kong, was developed with funds donated by the Hong Kong Jockey Club and the government to meet the demand for golf in the region. Located on the rugged island of Kau Sai Chau, the property’s three 18-hole courses share sweeping views of the South China Sea.
Any golfer visiting the outer Banks will tell you that Nags Head Golf Links is a mustplay for its challenging target golf and beautiful views of Roanoke Sound. The course is a true marriage of American design and Scottish links style, carved out of the barrier islands’ natural topography. Golf Digest called the “Roanoke Sound Four” (Holes 5, 9, 15 and 18) “among the most beautiful in the eastern United States.”
Last year the Keilir Golf Club in Hafnarfjördur, near Reykjavik, celebrated its 40th anniversary. As any avid golfer can tell you, that is old by golf-course standards. The course started with six holes, then grew to nine, then 12, all carved around the lava. Finally, 18 holes were completed in 1985, and, in 1992, a new modern clubhouse was built. Later, nine more holes were added, bringing the course total to 27 holes.
Every conceivable string wsas being pulled and the boys flew down to southern Florida for Super Bowl XLII, for this was just another excuse to get in a few more rounds. The first course I contacted was the famed Doral Golf Resort & Spa, and each time we tried to secure a tee time we were told it was full and reminded, “You know the Super Bowl is that week?” While we were in Miami, we tried TeeBone (http://www.teebone.com) and secured the White Course, better known as the Great White.
You can’t call yourself a true fan of Frank Lloyd Wright if you have not visited the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa in Phoenix, the only hotel with his signature. Located just 20 minutes from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX), the Arizona Biltmore offers everything you could want in a resort, including two golf courses at the adjacent Arizona Biltmore Country Club: the Links Course and the Adobe Course.
The newly redesigned Rees Jones Course (formerly known as Breakers West) lies about 11 miles from The Breakers Resort across Interstate 95 near the Florida Turnpike. The course was reconstructed in 2004 by the famed Rees Jones, better known as the “fixer,” because of his talent for taking weak courses and making them spectacular. After a $6 million reconstruction that lengthened it to 7,104 yards and a par 72, the Rees Jones Course was voted “2005 Renovation of the Year” by Golf Inc.
Maurice Fitzgerald and his descendants, the Earls of Kildare, would probably approve of the modern-day incarnation of the Carton Estate. The family owned the 1,100-acre property for 750 years, beginning in 1170 when FitzGerald, who played an active role in the capture of Dublin by the Normans, was named Lord of Maytooth charged with governing Carton and its environs.
If ever there were a witch, it was Annee. Legend has it that Annee Palmer, the 19th century owner of Jamaica’s Rose Hall Estate, ruled over the plantation, its slaves and her husbands — she’s rumored to have killed three — with an iron fist. To this day, locals believe Annee haunts the 4,000-acre estate. But with Annee, at least in her earthly form, long gone, developers have moved in to build resort hotels on former sugar cane fields.
If you have never heard of the K Club, you’ve probably never picked up a golf club. Also known as the Kildare Club, the K Club was home to the 2006 Ryder Cup Challenge during which the European team gave a good thrashing to the U.S. team. And it was the first time in Ryder Cup history the tournament was played on Irish soil.
Half Moon is a sprawling complex with the true Caribbean feel lacking in many newer resorts. Located only 15 minutes from Montego Bay Airport, the resort has hosted VIPs from royalty to celebrities. When I visited with my family in August, we were often the only people on our little stretch of beach where the water temperature must have been in the high 80s. Accommodations range from original cabins that have been painstakingly renovated to newer Hibiscus Suites — two-story, two-bedroom villas.
Business deals are made on golf courses, so if you’re not a golfer – or you golf, but are not confident in your ability – you may be missing out. Whether it’s an intense weekend of instruction or a one-day short-game course, golf school may be your ticket to sealing the deal.
Designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr., Mauna Kea is no newcomer to the Big Island. The 18-hole, par 72 course at the Prince Mauna Kea Beach Hotel opened in 1962. It covers some 230 acres of Hawaii’s tropical landscape. Getting in a round here is a perfect reason to add a Big Island stay to your trip. You can even take a quick flight from Oahu just for the day, as I did.
Durban Country Club was one of many courses my group played around this South African city. We didn’t have any success arranging a tee time until one of us, a real dealmaker from Manhattan, called the course pro directly. When he told us of his success, we all wanted to know what he said to the pro.
One of the best aspects of the Arnold Palmer course at Turtle Bay Resort is its location. Many visitors grow tired of the hustle and bustle of Honolulu and Waikiki Beach — though I’m not one of them — so head instead to the North Shore of Oahu. The drive alone, through mountains and along famed beaches, is well worth the journey. The Turtle Bay Resort on Oahu’s North Shore is home to championship courses — The George Fazio Course which has hosted the LPGA Tour’s Hawaiian Open and was the site of the first Senior Skins Game, and The Arnold Palmer Course which is home to the PGA Turtle Bay Championship. Both are nestled among 880 acres of beaches, ironwood trees and wetlands of Oahu.
Think of Pebble Beach Resorts and thoughts of the famed Pebble Beach Golf Links come to mind. And why not? The well-rounded combination of the best known (if somewhat average) holes in golf should not be missed by any avid golfer. But unlike Pebble Beach, the 18 diverse holes at Spyglass Hill offer a bit of the unexpected. Readers who have played both will know what I mean.
The design philosophy for Amelia Island Plantation — a 1,350-acre resort replete with 72 holes of golf — was to honor its natural Florida landscape. One element of that environmentally friendly plan involved its irrigation system, which uses recycled resort water in combination with water from the Floridian aquifer that runs under the island. Another course design feature — the strategic placement of birdhouses for kestrels, owls, wood ducks, purple martins and a variety of songbirds — earned the resort a stamp of approval from the New York Audubon Society Cooperative Sanctuary System.
Located in Rancho Palos Verdes on a peninsula that juts into the Pacific Ocean, Trump National Golf Course boasts ocean views on every hole. But the history of this course did not start with Donald Trump — the real story here is how this course was resurrected from the dead after the Pacific Ocean claimed three of its scenic holes several years ago.
Camden Lakeside, a Peter Thompson–designed course, lies about an hour’s drive from downtown Sydney. Opened in 1993, the course is a tribute to Thompson’s five wins at the British Open (1954, ’55, ’56, ’58 and 1965). With his design, Thompson manages to get golfers’ dander up with a series of multiple “seaside” pot bunkers and crowned greens.
The Outer Banks of North Carolina — stretching 90 miles from Virginia to the islands of Ocracoke and Portsmouth — is famous for its wide beaches and great surf. It’s a fragile strip of sand, measuring less than half a mile wide at some points, that cuts between a number of brackish sounds and the open Atlantic Ocean. With some stretches of its barrier islands lying 20 miles from the North Carolina mainland, the Outer Banks is accessible only by boat, plane and a few bridges. Still, it’s grown considerably in the past 15 years.
I seldom meet a golfer who is not familiar with Forsgate Country Club in Monroe Township, N.J., a course that has hosted many corporate outings. Since it’s conveniently located just off Exit 8A of the New Jersey Turnpike, it’s a favorite among golfers who live in New Jersey, New York or Pennsylvania. And though it’s a private club, there’s such a vast number of corporate members that it’s likely you’ll be invited to play the course if you’re visiting the area on business.
With literally hundreds of courses blanketing its landscape, South Carolina’s Myrtle Beach is a mecca for golfers. The Dunes, one of the region’s grande dames, was established in 1948. The Robert Trent Jones–designed course continues to rank well in top sports publications, including Golf and Golf Digest. The course has hosted two USGA national championships and six Senior Tour championships.
One of the newest golf courses to grace Los Angeles, Angeles National holds court as the only Jack Nicklaus–designed course in L.A. County. Not even a year old when we played there in March, the course was selected by Global Traveler as the venue for our first Globility West Coast Invitational, open to GT subscribers in 2006.
Following a week of meetings in Los Angeles, I was looking forward to playing the Sandpiper Golf Club just north of Santa Barbara, Calif. Nestled in the foothills of the beautiful Santa Ynez Mountains, the course runs along the Pacific Ocean and offers some magnificent vistas — 14 of the 18 holes are along the ocean or have ocean views — during play. The William Bell-designed course (Bell also designed Torrey Pines in San Diego) opened in 1972. It’s a point of pride that with no homes or roads to interrupt the 200-acre landscape, the course offers what locals refer to as a “Pebble Beach” experience in Santa Barbara.
As the saying goes, it’s not what you know, but who you know. My golf trip to St. Andrews was all about who I knew. I was planning to be in Glasgow, Scotland, for a convention when a close friend and associate asked if I’d be interested in a side trip to St. Andrews to play the Old Course. Of course, the answer was yes.
It was 6:30 a.m. as my Brazilian golf adventure began. Dressed for the course, golf bag in hand, there was no doubt as to my mission — I was off to spend a day on the links at the Guarapiranga Golf and Country Club. My driver, all 5 feet of him, was waiting for me in the hotel lobby, ready to negotiate the cost of the trip to the course. “120 for real trip,” he said. “Round trip?” I asked through the concierge who was acting as our interpreter. “He say ok,” came the reply.
Tranquil play in a spectacular setting — what more could you ask for? That’s exactly what you’ll find at Daufuskie Island Resort & Breathe Spa. Located on Daufuskie Island, a short boat ride from Hilton Head, s.c., the resort features two championship courses — the 7,081-yard, par-72 Melrose Course and the 6,900-yard, par-72 Bloody Point course.
A mere 30-minute drive from the bright lights and bustling boulevards of downtown Las Vegas, the Nevada desert is a haven of natural beauty. It’s here you’ll find the Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort. Owned and operated by the Las Vegas Paiute Tribe, the resort — a work in progress — currently features three individual 18-hole courses and a fully operational clubhouse. Plans call for a 4,000-acre resort complex and conference facility consisting of 300 luxury accommodations (30 hotel rooms and 270 individual casitas); a 30,000-square-foot conference center; 17,500 square feet of meeting space; a 17,000-square-foot spa and wellness center; a 16,000-square-foot casino; and retail and restaurant space in a village setting.
If asked, that’s how I’d describe The Gleneagles Hotel. A magnificent 850-acre estate in the Scottish Highlands, Gleneagles is less than an hour’s drive from either Edinburgh or Glasgow. Built by the Caledonian Railway Co., Gleneagles opened to much acclaim in 1924. Hailed for offering fine service and personal attention to guest needs, the resort featured its own rail station. As you may imagine, in the booming 1920s, golf courses were popping up all over the world. Gleneagles became a mainstay of the golf resort circuit and remained so for decades. Prior to a comprehensive renovation completed in 1986, Gleneagles was only open in the summer. Thanks to $46 million in capital improvements, the resort has been restored to its vintage glory and is now open year-round.
Known as an ideal base of operations for visiting Colonial Williamsburg, the Williamsburg Inn has another reason for success-the adjacent Golden Horseshoe Golf Club, consisting of three distinct courses-Green, Gold and the very walkable nine-hole Spotswood. The Golden Horseshoe Gold and Green Courses are unique for being the first father-and-son-designed side-by-side courses in the world.
Awareness about fair and sustainable travel continues to grow around the globe, with travelers everywhere considering a destination’s eco-friendly options before visiting. As public consciousness for this important aspect of tourism strengthens, tourists also look beyond just ecotourism and delve deeper into types of travel that allow them to respect the local culture, interact with locals and distribute benefits fairly.
Without visiting, it’d be easy to throw Chicago into any number of categories. Everyone thinks they know Chicago; after all, it’s the third-largest city in America, the most prestigious foodie city in the country, the city of jazz, a comedian’s playground, an architect’s dream, a writer’s paradise. The list goes on. Only when walking the streets themselves do you realize there’s nothing categorical about the Windy City, especially as it continues to evolve.
PHOTO: © ADRIAN OLSTAD
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The Lanesborough, one of London’s most luxurious properties and part of Oetker Collection, offers a romantic afternoon tea experience alongside a hotel stay just in time for Valentine’s Day. Available Feb. 11, 12 and 14, Valentine’s Afternoon Tea features Rosé Champagne and a rose cake to share with that special someone.
Nashville’s once-modest skyline continues to evolve as its luxury market grows. Lavish hotel properties are added to the landscape while acclaimed chefs stake claim in the robust culinary scene and premier cultural offerings round out the city’s repertoire.
A deadly 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck Türkiye and Syria Feb. 6, with more than 11,000 fatalities thus far reported. That number is expected to grow as rescue operations continue.