Whether it's a buddies trip or a getaway with our significant other, what we seek from a golf resort is an experience greater than our usual weekend round. We want to be pampered on and off the fairways, at least a bit, with everything within walking distance. Caddies, not carts. No cab rides to dinner and drinks. We even shun elevators. Our favorite golf resorts have lodging that barely pokes above the treetops.
Our choice resorts also offer multiple courses, and we're partial to those layouts that offer fun, frolics and dazzling scenery, although we can't resist the lure of a marquee ball-buster. Rental clubs are the hottest brands and perform better than anything we've swung at home. Merchandise in the golf shop is abundant, with a logo we're proud to advertise.
We editors agree that the accommodations must be comfortable, neither spartan nor gaudy, and the best service is that which never leaves us feeling self-conscious. Creature comforts become second nature: the shaving mirror in the shower, live piano music at breakfast, the fruit basket at the turn, the steaming scented towel as we walk off 18.
We freely admit all this comes at a price that's well above the normal household budget for golf. We wouldn't be recommending these resorts if their experiences weren't worth the cost. Of course, among our editors, there isn't unanimity on every aspect. For instance, every top-flight resort these days features a palatial range packed with pyramids of practice balls. Some of us relish the opportunity to finally groove a swing, but others merely glance at it on the way to the first tee. That's the joy of a great golf resort. It's overstocked with activities and diversions, and we get to pick our pleasures.
• NORTHEAST/NEW ENGLAND
• PACIFIC NORTHWEST
• ROCKIES/GREAT PLAINS
• MEXICO/CENTRAL AMERICA