Golf Digest editors picks

Trails Mix: Take your game on the road

Trails Mix

There is something irresistible about throwing the clubs in the back of a car and heading out for new territory, whether you're navigating the back roads of Scotland or rambling along highways closer to home. You can plot your dream golf trip with Best Places to Play, Golf Digest's guide to more than 4,000 public and resort courses. Here, with 1 to 5 star ratings from Best Places to Play, are sample trips in half a dozen top vacation spots.

Asheville, North Carolina

Famed novelist Thomas Wolfe is its favorite native son. His contemporary F. Scott Fitzgerald was a regular at its only five-star hotel, The Grove Park Inn. Culture, climate -- four distinct seasons -- and a cosmopolitan flavor have made the small town of Asheville, N.C., a top tourist destination.

The fact that Asheville is nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains defines its golf. It's true mountain golf, from majestic vistas to wondrous waterfalls. Ever hit a pitching wedge to a 185-yard par 3 or a 5-iron to a 110-yarder? The potential is there.

Donald Ross, who designed three daily-fee courses in the Asheville area, and Tom Fazio, a resident of Hendersonville, 25 miles away, are among the architects who used the terrain to create hilly, tree-lined fairways that make finding flat lies a rarity and accuracy a necessity. The Ross tracks (Linville, Asheville Municipal and Grove Park) and a number of other quality courses are within an hour's drive of Asheville.

For more information from our Best Places to Play Guide, including directions, green fees and reader comments click on the course names below.

1. 4 ½ stars: Linville G.C. / Linville
2. 4 stars: Mt. Mitchell G.C. / Burnsville
3. 4 stars: Reems Creek G.C. / Weaverville
4. 4 stars: Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa / Asheville
5. Asheville Municipal G. Cse. / not rated
6. 3 ½ stars: Springdale C.C. / Canton
7. 3 ½ stars: Etowah Valley C.C. & G. Lodge / Etowah

Florida Panhandle

The 103-mile stretch from Panama City west to Pensacola along U.S. Highway 98 in the Florida Panhandle might be the perfect stretch of pavement for a golf road trip.

There are no complicated turns or wacky directions. If you can hold the steering wheel steady for a couple of hours, you can tee off on nearly a dozen courses without having to stop and ask for directions.

If you're looking for hilly, parkland-style tracks, you're in the wrong place. The courses here are virtually flat and typically framed by tall, skinny pines, wispy coastal grass and sand scrub, and a seemingly endless supply of water hazards (so bring an extra dozen balls).

For more information from our Best Places to Play Guide, including directions, green fees and reader comments click on the course names below.

1. 4 stars: Bay Point Resort (Nicklaus Cse.) / Panama City Beach
2. 3 ½ stars: The Hombre G.C. (27 holes) / Panama City Beach
3. 4 ½ stars: (Burnt Pine G.C.), 4 ½ stars: (Raven G.C.), Sandestin G. and Beach Resort / Destin
4. 4 ½ stars: Kelly Plantation G.C. / Destin
5. 4 ½ stars: The Club at Hidden Creek / Navarre
6. 4 ½ stars: The Moors / Milton

Hawaii

Evaluating golf in Hawaii is different than almost anywhere else. Because it's paradise, the golf is more about the total experience than a purist's conception of classic shot values. Hawaii's best courses tend to be penal, as if the designers decided that putting the golfer as close as possible to the raw natural beauty of ocean, cliffs and rain forest was more important than playability. So be it. The spectacular stages are likely to leave you with at least one shot that you can play in your memory for the rest of your life. With that in mind, here are six courses -- covering five islands -- that cut quite a trail.

For more information from our Best Places to Play Guide, including directions, green fees and reader comments click on the course names below.

1. 4½ stars: Princeville at Hanalei (Prince Cse.)
2. 4 stars: Ko'olau G.C. Oahu
3. 4 ½ stars: The Challenge at Manele Lanai
4. 4 ½ stars: Kapalua G.C. (Plantation Cse.)
5. 4 ½ stars: Hualalai G. Cse. / Big Island
6. 4 ½ stars: Mauna Lani Resort (South Cse.) Big Island

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