Austin is a gateway city to the storied Texas Hill Country—home to German beer, Texas wines, barbecue and some excellent golf courses. The rolling hills, dotted with lakes, limestone cliffs and caverns, natural springs and stands of cypress and oak, make for dramatic and challenging layouts. Add to that the state's golf pedigree—Ben Hogan, Harvey Penick, Kathy Whitworth and Byron Nelson all hail from here—and you've got a historical backdrop as well.
The town of great pizza and the 2016 World Series champs has a roster of stellar private clubs—Medinah, Olympia Fields and Butler National come to mind—but Chicago may be better known as the public golf capital of the U.S., offering an astonishing number of nationally recognized daily-fee courses.
You'd think an area known for its Bentleys and billionaires would be too pricy for a golf getaway, but nothing could be farther from the truth. Yes, there are many exclusive private clubs in Palm Beach, but there are far more courses in the affordable category, including some outstanding municipals—one even designed by Jack Nicklaus. And then there are the resorts, which offer a good mix of classic and contemporary designs by the likes of Tom Fazio and Pete Dye. No matter where you choose to play, you'll get the built-in pleasures of Florida golf — water, sand, birds, gators, ocean breezes, palms — plus ideal year-round weather and easy access to off-course diversions, from beaches to baseball.
Charleston is a great fit for golfing families, couples and buddies. If you're looking for resort-based golf, where your choice for the day is what designer course to play, Kiawah and Wild Dunes fit the bill with seven courses between them. For courses with a rich history, and the lush Lowcountry setting of pines and oaks and rivers and marshes, you don't have to venture far to find golf clubs with ties to the Revolutionary and Civil wars and the cotton and rice plantation economy that once dominated and forever defined the area. Best of all, there is really no bad time to play here. Winters are typically mild, and although the summers can heat up, deals abound and there's usually a breeze to keep playing conditions pleasant.
Sin City has upped the charm quotient considerably in the past few years, managing to retain its kitschy appeal as it develops more stylish, upmarket neighborhoods and hotels off the Strip. The traditional things, like the 24/7 casinos, celebrity-chef restaurants and top-notch golf courses, however, remain unchanged. Golfers have year-round access to a variety of award-winning courses and abundant sunshine. And while the summer months are definitely the hottest, they offer some of the best golf deals, sometimes as much as 50 to 70 percent lower than peak-season fees. And no matter what your taste is in golf courses – desert, links, mountain, parkland – there's a course for you.
Atlanta is a city with a wealth of lofty private courses—think Peachtree and Piedmont Driving Club—but it also boasts a pretty collection of resorts that dot the city, and a nice selection of high-end public courses. Many of the area courses specialize in customized small-group outings, which makes Atlanta an ideal spot for business golf and corporate entertaining. Add to the mix lush parkland style layouts that pose classic risk-reward scenarios, a year-round season, the Bobby Jones pedigree, and the annual Tour Championship at East Lake, and you've got a winning golf destination.