Bucket-List Worthy

9 golf trips we’re dreaming of taking this winter

October 27, 2020

Even if it’s been a tough year for golf travelers, it hasn’t stopped many of us from dreaming about golf trips. If anything, the travel restrictions in 2020 have us more firmly planning something for 2021 or 2022.

And if you have aspirations of traveling to some of golf’s greatest locales with friends and family, the pursuit of the dream trip never stops. That’s why we partnered with our friends at Golfbreaks by PGA TOUR to plan out where we’d love to go this fall/winter if a golf trip is in the cards (knowing, for many, it might not be).

9 places we’re dreaming of traveling to this fall and winter:

There are few better places to get away for golf if you live in a colder climate than the Phoenix/Scottsdale area. There are dozens and dozens of courses worth playing; here are a few that we always try to fit into our itinerary:

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Lonna Tucker

The eighth hole at the Saguaro course at We-Ko-Pa.

We-Ko-Pa’s two courses—Saguaro and Cholla—are ranked inside our top seven among public courses in Arizona (Saguaro, a Coore and Crenshaw design, is No. 2 among public courses and No. 21 in Arizona).

Grayhawk also has two great 18-hole courses (Raptor and Talon, which hosted the PGA Tour’s Frys.com Open and match play events) that will host the 2022-’24 NCAA men’s and women’s golf championships.

The highest-ranked public course in Arizona is Quintero in Peoria, with a mixture of holes, some framed by mountain ridges and others out in the Sonoran desert. It sits No. 84 on Golf Digest’s ranking of America’s 100 Greatest Public.

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The 10th hole at Troon North's Pinnacle course.

Another stellar 36-hole facility is Troon North’s Monument and Pinnacle courses—ranked fourth and fifth, respectively, in the state, and Monument is No. 25 on Golf Digest’s latest Best in State ranking.

Any golfers trekking to Scottsdale will likely have TPC Scottsdale on their bucket list. The Stadium course, home of the famous Waste Management Phoenix Open, is one of the cooler experiences for any PGA Tour fan, and the Champions course is a ton of fun, too.

Interested in booking one of these trips? Click here to start pricing out your trip with our friends at Golfbreaks by PGA TOUR, or call them: (+1) 843.779.7134.

We’ll stay in the desert, like the PGA Tour recently did in back-to-back weeks, to highlight its fun golf options.

If you stay at an MGM property such as the MGM Grand, you’ll have a chance to play Shadow Creek (if you don’t mind paying the $600 green fee). Tee times must be booked through your MGM concierge—the limo-to-course experience is reserved for the highest priority clients.

In the heart of Vegas, just five minutes from the MGM Grand and a few blocks from the Bellagio, is Bali Hai, a fun course designed by Lee Schmidt and Brian Curley. The club is also home to the ParMates program, which assigns customers to a female caddie/ambassador, which you’d only expect in Vegas.

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The eighth hole at The Wolf course at the Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort.

The Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort is worth a look for any serious golfer trip to Vegas. The resort's three Pete Dye-designed courses have been ranked in Golf Digest’s top 10 in Nevada.

One of the state’s best designs is Cascata, currently No. 6 on our latest list. The challenging Rees Jones design with rolling terrain and significant elevation changes is worth including in any Vegas golf itinerary.

Courtesy of Rees Jones

The 14th hole at Cascata.

As is Rio Secco, forever the home to our No. 1-ranked coach Butch Harmon, with a design that just underwent renovations a few years ago.

For those looking for a golf-centric hub of the Strip, the Westin Lake Las Vegas is a four-star resort worth considering. A benefit to guests is accessing the South Shore Country Club, a private Jack Nicklaus-designed course ranked No. 4 on our latest best in Nevada. And the Reflection Bay course at Lake Las Vegas is a fun Nicklaus course that starts out with a double water carry tee shot, and ends with holes wrapping around Lake Las Vegas.

Interested in booking one of these trips? Click here to start pricing out your trip with our friends at Golfbreaks by PGA TOUR, or call them: (+1) 843.779.7134.

One of America’s great golf destinations is also an ideal place to be in the fall. There are nine courses (plus the par-3 Cradle course) onsite at Pinehurst Resort, highlighted by No. 2, home to so many past major tournaments and five upcoming U.S. Opens. The other courses are all worth playing, particularly No. 4, recently redesigned by Gil Hanse and Jim Wagner ahead of the 2019 U.S. Amateur.

Hole 7 | 424 yards | Par 4

Dom Furore

The courses at Pinehurst are worthy of a trip on their own, but there is a plethora of other great golf in close proximity. Tobacco Road, another great Strantz design, should be at the top of everyone’s list. As our Ron Whitten wrote: “In the horse-drawn-carriage neighborhood of Pinehurst, Strantz created a landscape more suitable for motocross racing, with mammoth hills and deep craters. Each hole looks intimidating from the tee but reveals plenty of elbow room for tee shots and approaches, as well as spin-outs and crash landings.”

Pine Needles and Mid Pines are also must-plays on every Pinehurst itinerary. Pine Needles is a Donald Ross original, redesigned recently by Kyle Franz. It has hosted three U.S. Women’s Opens. And across the street is Mid Pines, also on Golf Digest’s Best in North Carolina.

Interested in booking one of these trips? Click here to start pricing out your trip with our friends at Golfbreaks by PGA TOUR, or call them: (+1) 843.779.7134.

Further on down in the land of the pines is Hilton Head, another mecca for golf. There are a number of great private clubs, but no shortage of public golf, too.

Sea Pines Resort is home to Harbour Town Golf Links, the marquee gem of HHI and host of a PGA Tour event since 1969. The Inn at Sea Pines Resort is a five-star resort option, while villas on-site offer a bit more room within the resort. Don’t miss the newly resigned Atlantic Dunes, with work done by Davis Love III’s team.

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The 15th hole at the May River course at Palmetto Bluff.

May River at Palmetto Bluff is more low-profile than what’d you expect from a Jack Nicklaus design, but it fits the low-country land it occupies. It’s a mainstay in the top 50 of Golf Digest’s America’s 100 Greatest Public courses and was ranked 11th on our most recent best in South Carolina.

Another Hilton Head must is Palmetto Dunes, which has three 18-hole courses (Trent Jones, George Fazio and Arthur Hills) and three miles of ocean acreage, making it ideal for either buddies trips or romantic getaways.

Interested in booking one of these trips? Click here to start pricing out your trip with our friends at Golfbreaks by PGA TOUR, or call them: (+1) 843.779.7134.

The Charleston area is one of the best in terms of offerings for all skill levels, and it also has a claim to being one of the birthplaces of American golf—a merchant received golf balls and clubs from Scotland in 1743, likely bringing the great game to these shores. Here’s all the best golf you can play in and outside the charming Southern city:

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This list must start with Kiawah Island’s offerings, ideal for golf-centric trips and those looking for the most plush amenities. And the mentioning of Kiawah Island must start with the Ocean Course, site of the 2012 PGA Championship and 1991 Ryder Cup, and it’ll host the PGA again in 2021. It’s the No. 1-ranked course in South Carolina and is 24th in the U.S.

Kiawah Island Resort also boasts four other 18-hole courses, worth playing while you’re onsite. The Kiawah Island Club’s two 18-hole courses, each ranked in Golf Digest’s Second 100 Greatest, are private but worth trying to get on if you can (Cassique, designed by Tom Watson and Bob Gibbons, is ranked 148th and the River course, at No. 195, was designed by Tom Fazio).

For those staying closer to Charleston, Wild Dunes Resort in Isle of Palms, S.C., is worth considering, with its two 18-hole courses designed by Fazio.

RiverTowne Country Club, an Arnold Palmer design, and Charleston National, a fine Rees Jones public course, are worth adding on if you need somewhere else to play.

Interested in booking one of these trips? Click here to start pricing out your trip with our friends at Golfbreaks by PGA TOUR, or call them: (+1) 843.779.7134.

Southern hospitality is personified and perfected by the folks at Sea Island Resort, home of the annual RSM Classic. There’s a reason by the PGA Tour visits every fall, and why so many tour pros choose the locale as home base to practice in the winter. In addition to world-class practice facilities and other amenities, the golf is also very good.

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Stephen Szurlej

The fifth, sixth and 14th holes at the Seaside course at Sea Island.

The resort’s signature Seaside course is a Tom Fazio remodeling of an H.S. Colt original, then rebuilt by Joe Lee. The Plantation course re-opened in Oct. 2019 after undergoing a major remodeling by Davis Love III and Mark Love prior to this year. Of course, there are great private options around, too, including Ocean Forest and Frederica.

Interested in booking one of these trips? Click here to start pricing out your trip with our friends at Golfbreaks by PGA TOUR, or call them: (+1) 843.779.7134.

We could devote an entire article to Florida’s best golf, but we chose six of our favorites for winter golf.

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Laurence Lambrecht

Streamsong is one of just two resorts (Bandon is the other) that can claim three courses inside Golf Digest’s top-200 ranked golf courses. The newest, Gil Hanse’s Black course, joins Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw’s Red and Tom Doak’s Blue for a complete golf experience worth seeing. The Blue course also just completed a re-grassing of its greens with a new strain of Bermudagrass. The resort’s ultra-modern lodge and other amenities combine to add something for everybody.

TPC Sawgrass, the home of the Players Championship, is the highlight (and the second course, Dye’s Valley, is a ton of fun), but don’t sleep on the courses at the World Golf Village. You likely know the King and Bear and Slammer and Squire courses from the Gary Player commercial, but they are worth seeing in person.

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The third hole at the Nicklaus course at Reunion Resort.

Sure, Orlando isn’t on the water, but you won’t be fighting theme-park traffic these days, and there are so many courses to play in the area. Of course, Bay Hill, site of the annual Arnold Palmer Invitational, is a must. Reunion Resort (in Kissimmee) is a great stay-and-play option, with three fun 18-hole courses designed by Nicklaus, Palmer and Watson. Waldorf Astoria Golf Club is a Rees Jones design with challenging greens and a set of tees for every level (tipping out at 7,108 yards). Orange County National hosted PGA Tour Q school for nearly a decade and its two courses are equally challenging for the better player but with enough resort qualities for the beginner. And the Disney courses are worth seeing, especially the Magnolia course, which hosted a PGA Tour event back in the day. Of course, a day trip to Streamsong is doable, sitting just an hour and 20 minutes away.

In addition to the Champion course, where the PGA Tour’s Honda Classic is contested, there are four other 18-hole courses, including the Squire course, being remodeled by architect Andy Staples.

The Copperhead course—site of the annual Valspar Championship—is No. 100 on Golf Digest’s most recent ranking of America’s 100 Greatest Public courses, and the resort has three other 18-hole courses.

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The 18th hole at the Blue Monster at Doral.

The Blue Monster course held a PGA Tour event from 1962 to 2017, when the tour moved its WGC tournament to Mexico. Gil Hanse and Jim Wagner's renovation in 2014 to the Dick Wilson’s 1961 Blue design added some extra bite and undulating slopes. There are three other 18-hole courses and plush accommodations at the Miami spot with more than 600 rooms.

Interested in booking one of these trips? Click here to start pricing out your trip with our friends at Golfbreaks by PGA TOUR, or call them: (+1) 843.779.7134.

As our Mike Stachura once wrote, it seems like every third driveway in Myrtle Beach is a golf course on somebody’s top-ranked list. And that’s because, well, it’s true. There are dozens of courses to be found on the Grand Strand, a 60-mile stretch that encompasses all of Myrtle. Here are the Myrtle courses on the top of our list:

A key mistake many Myrtle Beach first-timers make is booking tee times on each end of Myrtle, which can be an hour from one end to the next. Barefoot Resort is a great anchor to any trip in North Myrtle Beach, with its four 18-hole courses, three of which were in the top 20 of Golf Digest’s ranking of the best courses in Myrtle (Dye, Fazio and Love).

No. 1 on that Best in Myrtle list was Caledonia, which is also on Golf Digest’s 100 Greatest Public ranking. Caledonia was the first solo design in the tragically short but brilliant career of designer Mike Strantz, who built with boldness and character.

Caledonia Golf & Fish C., Pawleys Island, S.C.

Courtesy of Caledonia

Ten years after he helped Fazio build the third at Ventana Canyon, Mike Strantz designed his own vest-pocket hole on his first solo design (Caledonia). Working on a tight site, he truncated the ninth to spare the removal of several ancient moss-draped live oaks in the clubhouse area. The hole was supposed to be 130 yards long, but a back tee on the far side of the entry road was soon abandoned. The wide, shallow green is shaped like an hourglass tipped on its side, all the sand pouring out to form a frontal bunker that is bigger than the green.

Across the street from Caledonia is True Blue Plantation, also a Strantz gem, with giant expanses of sand and hazards to play over. Thirty-six holes at Caledonia and True Blue is a tough day to top in Myrtle.

Legends Golf Resort is a decent base in the south of Myrtle, with three courses once ranked in our top 40 of Myrtle’s best and a huge, 30-acre practice facility. The Ailsa Pub was once ranked on Golf Digest’s top 19th holes in the country.

And the Marina Inn, right on Grande Dunes, offers a bit more upscale accommodations, in addition to access to the 18-hole, Roger Rulewich-designed course we ranked in Myrtle’s top 10.

It seems fitting to follow up Myrtle Beach with Palm Springs, an equal as a golf-rich locale. It’s tough to go wrong in Palm Springs (temperature-wise, maybe, but the fall and winter is the best time to be in the desert). Here are our favorites in the area:

Seven of Golf Digest’s top courses in California are in the desert, which is astounding when you consider how much great golf is in the state. The top-ranked public course within Palm Springs (actually, it’s in La Quinta) is PGA West’s Stadium Course, which hosts a PGA Tour event each year. The Pete Dye course is a ton of fun but very challenging with its unique bunkering.

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The 17th green at PGA West's Stadium course.

A great hub for your trip to the desert is the La Quinta Resort and Club, which is connected to the courses at PGA West and offers posh Waldorf Astoria accommodations. It’s also the site where the current “The Bachelorette” was shot, a potential selling point for your significant other.

Similar to how planning must go into the drive between courses in Myrtle, Palm Springs/La Quinta/Palm Desert is the same way. On the opposite end of town from PGA West is the Westin Mission Hills, a five-star resort with more than 500 rooms and site of another Pete Dye course, ranked second among publics in city limits.

Among the many great options in the desert is the Classic Club, which has the conditioning and feel of a private course. The facility, which used to be in the rota for the Bob Hope Desert Classic, just redid its bunkers in September 2019, and can be a challenge with a surprising amount of wind.

Interested in booking one of these trips? Click here to start pricing out your trip with our friends at Golfbreaks by PGA TOUR, or call them: (+1) 843.779.7134.