By Donna Carter
Renowned golf course architect, Pete Dye, once stated that “the ardent golfer would play Mount Everest if somebody put a flag stick on it.” Considering the staggering number of people worldwide who embark on repeated golf junkets, perhaps his exaggeration is not too far from the truth. In spite of the fact the average player is likely to suffer errant balls that often find water, sand and forest, the game is nothing short of addictive. It can be humbling, humiliating and frustrating but in most cases none of these irritants manage to turn people off the game or stem their enthusiasm for golf travel.
There is no single reason for this powerful motivation for golf and golf excursions but there is one that trumps all others – an unwavering love of the game, good performance or bad. Once it has a person in its grips, it’s almost impossible to let go. Even after a disappointing round – just like Scarlet O’Hara’s pledge in the movie Gone With the Wind – tomorrow is another day. Moreover, in many cases, tomorrow is another golf trip during which all drives will be straight and all putts will be singles. Impossible dreams? Probably, but most would agree the fundamental stimulus for golf travel is an unrelenting passion for the game.
Well-known American sportscaster, Brent Musburger, offers another reason for golf travel. “I’d play golf every day if I could. It’s cheaper than a shrink and there are no telephones on my golf cart,” he said. His message is simple. Getting away from the workaday world, daily pressures, obligations and commitments, a golf trip is clearly a pressure valve. Underscoring the importance and need to relax and let off steam, 15 of the last 18 U.S. Presidents made a point of carving out time for golf getaways. They were obviously faced with bigger issues than most, nevertheless, in the fast-paced world of today it’s all relative.
Climate is another big factor that drives men and women to book getaways. For instance, golf enthusiasts who live in the northern regions of Canada and the U.S. obviously have their playing time limited to six months at best. When snow and cold become the dominant weather conditions for half of the year, warm and sunny golf destinations immediately become an enticing magnet. Balmy weather and endless numbers of courses that never see a flake of snow are a quick and pleasant replacement for gray skies, frigid weather and snow covered golf courses. At least in the north, there is probably no greater incentive for booking a golf getaway than winter.
Then, of course, there are the golf courses themselves with oodles of tracks to choose from. In the United States alone there are nearly 18,000 countrywide. Many years ago before he gave up the British throne for the woman he loved, Edward VIII once stated that he “loved travelling to America because it’s one vast golf course.” That was several decades ago and since then course numbers have expanded dramatically and for the average player planning a trip, there is no bigger and more diverse smorgasbord of places to play. Not surprisingly, this extensive selection ranging from premier layouts to value-based clubs figures prominently in golf trip planning. Some golfers have a bucket list of courses they dream of playing while others are less specific. They simply want to hit the links – any links – for a few days of indulgence.
Among the various reasons people plan golf trips, is the “package” aspect. Golf course owners everywhere caught onto the idea a long time ago that if they bundled a group of tracks within the same area and priced them as a money-saving incentive, the people would come. Not surprisingly, they did. The whole package idea was like a carrot on a stick and it worked for the golf course owners as well as the playing public. Many of today’s golf enthusiasts will plan an excursion solely based on a cost-effective package.
Finally, there’s another aspect of golf trips that may be almost as significant as the passion for the game itself. The sheer camaraderie associated with groups of friends spending a few days together on a links getaway is often the driving force behind an excursion. It’s not just the time spent on the courses, it’s the fun and fellowship that takes place beyond the 18th hole that often includes dining, nightlife and sightseeing.
See you at the 19th hole!
Atlantic City: Artful & Challenging Courses
Sprawled across Atlantic City there are no fewer than 20 artfully-crafted and meticulously-maintained golf courses. These layouts range from links-style and parkland-style, to classic gems and out-of-control modern marvels.
Why Do Canadians Love It? The convenient location of Atlantic City is perfect for Canadian golfers looking for a new golf option. It’s only a nine-hour drive from Toronto and an eight-hour drive from Montreal.
Heaven For The Beginner Golfer Even though it’s home to the ShopRite LPGA Classic and the site of Sam Snead’s first major title at the 1942 PGA Championship, the Bay Course at Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club is not overly long. The resort’s original golf course actually had two famed Scotsmen – Donald Ross and Hugh Wilson – frame its wonderful design. The course plays along Reed’s Bay and provides great views of the Atlantic City skyline.
Heaven For The Moderate Golfer Two replica holes from the famed Pine Valley Course – the New Jersey icon consistently ranked among the world’s best – can be found at Blue Heron Pines Golf Club. Architect Stephen Kay, who actually lives just off the number 17 fairway, patterned Blue Heron’s number 14 from Pine Valley’s seventh, and he similarly replicated a Pine Valley hole on his number 10 offering. Opened in 1993, Blue Heron Pines’ mature layout is tree-lined. It sports some nice water holes and has its fair share of strategically placed bunkers.
Heaven For The Advanced Golfer Twisted Dune Golf Club is possibly the most visually striking golf course in the Atlantic City golf arsenal. Designer Archie Struthers moved two million cubic yards of earth to bring this remarkable course to fruition – creating a true taste of the Scottish Coast on the Jersey Shore. It’s often described as the place where ‘Phoenix meets Scotland’. Photos PlayACGolf.com
Not-To-Be-Missed Golf Experience The venerable Atlantic City Country Club has evolved into one of the greatest clubs in the country. Anyone interested in the game’s history should waste no time teeing-it-up on the 6,577-yard classic – most recently restored by renowned designer Tom Doak shortly after its 100th birthday. The club’s rich background makes it one of the great destination courses in the east.
Insider Tip Located just 20 minutes from downtown Philadelphia and 45 minutes from Atlantic City, Scotland Run Golf Club is a great choice for golfers coming to or departing Atlantic City on a golf getaway. Built in and around an old sand quarry, Scotland Run offers a distinctive blend of wooded, quarry and links-style holes.
St. George: Heavenly Golf
If you are looking for a golf destination that tests your game, goes easy on your pocket book and takes your breath away, look no further. Just a 90-minute drive north of Las Vegas, St. George has 12 courses within a 25-kilometre radius.
Why Do Canadians Love It? Playing golf amid stunning red rock vistas, black lava rock and green fairways on nationally recognized courses can’t be beat. Affordable green fees, great dining, comfortable accommodation options and friendly locals – that’s what Canadians love about St. George.
Heaven For The Beginner Golfer Southgate is a great course for those looking for an enjoyable round of golf as opposed to a brutal test of your skills.St George Tourism Office
Heaven For The Moderate Golfer Sky Mountain Golf Course, Green Spring, The Ledges and Sunbrook offer stunning vistas and beautiful features for the moderate golfer.
Heaven For The Advanced Golfer Low handicap golfers love Sand Hollow Golf Course, which sits in the middle of a red sand oasis. Coral Canyon also offers a memorable round of golf.
Not-To-Be-Missed Golf Experience It’s the stunning scenery that sets St. George apart. Red rocks climb into the bluest sky you’ve ever seen, black lava fields stretch across the valley and snow-capped mountains rise up in the distance. It makes it harder to keep your eye on the ball!
Insider Tip Zion National Park, which lies just 45 minutes to the northeast, is a must-do in between rounds of golf. In sheer magnitude and colour, it is one of the country’s most awe-inspiring national parks.
Tucson: A Longtime Love For The Game
Professional golf’s legacy in Tucson – from the first Tucson Open in 1945 to the current World Golf Championships’ Accenture Match Play Championship – chronicles a longtime love for the game.
Why Do Canadians Love It? Tucson’s mild spring, fall and winter are legendary, and during the heat of summer, golfers get up early to play as it’s common for courses to open at sunrise. Visit Tucson
Heaven For The Beginner Golfer Beginners enjoy Randolph North, the longest of Tucson’s five municipal golf courses, measuring 7,000 yards from the championship tees and 6,500 yards from the regular tees.
Heaven For The Moderate Golfer The Omni Tucson National Resort stimulates the senses with its two dynamic courses. The target-style Sonoran Course, designed by PGA Tour champion and Ryder Cup captain Tom Lehman, blends a native desert setting and dramatic elevation changes. The parkland-style Catalina Course has hosted greats like Nicklaus, Trevino and Palmer.
Heaven For The Advanced Golfer Loews Ventana Canyon offers two Tom Fazio-designed, championship 18-hole golf courses. The famously tough 6,836-yard, par-72 Canyon Course winds through Esperero Canyon and incorporates the massive rock formation known as Whaleback Rock.
Not-To-Be-Missed Golf Experience The World Golf Championships’ Accenture Match Play Championship will be played from February 17 to 23, 2014 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, Dove Mountain. The event has an $8 million purse.
Insider Tip Check out the Silverbell and El Rio-Trini Alvarez courses, both of which have had recent makeovers. The average price for 18-hole game, including green fees and cart, is $37 per round on weekends. Lower prices are available on weekdays. Visit Tucson
Spokane: Unbeatable Choices & Prices
With 260 days of sunshine a year, the area’s 35 courses are ready to go early in the season. The green fees are also among the lowest in the nation.
Why Do Canadians Love It? Just 150 kilometres south of the border, Spokane is an easy, beautiful drive away. Equally attractive are the green fees. If you are accustomed to paying around $100 for 18, you will discover that you can play beautiful courses at unbeatable prices in the Spokane region.
Heaven For The Beginner Golfer Take advantage of the par-three and executive-nine courses. Try Eagle Ridge Golf Course, a nine-hole par-three that's one of the newer courses in the region.
Heaven For The Moderate Golfer In Liberty Lake, MeadowWood golf course is an excellent choice that offers some great prices. It’s just $28.24 for a weekday green fee for 18.
Heaven For The Advanced Golfer Circling Raven Golf Club is one of Golf Digest's top 100 courses in the U.S., and with green fees as low as $65, it is an incredible bargain.
Not-To-Be-Missed Golf Experience Take a shot at the ‘Three Million Dollar Hole’. This famous floating green at the Coeur d'Alene Resort has its own irrigation system with a track-mechanism that allows it to be moved to accommodate fluctuations in the lake level.
Insider Tip All the county courses are linked on the same computer system, so you don't have to call around looking for tee-times. The staff at each course will be happy to share tee-times that are available the following day at any of the courses.