Casino and resort developer Donald Trump has been in the golf news quite a bit lately. First, there was his purchase of the Doral Resort, where the WGC Cadillac Championship is held. Then, in a bit of serendipity that only The Donald could experience, the man he has chosen to renovate The Blue Monster, Gil Hanse, also was picked to design the Olympic Golf Course in Brazil. He also dropped a hint that his Trump National is on the short list for a US Women’s Open. If that works out, he’ll be in the running to have other national championships—perhaps even a men’s major—at one of his properties.
Las Vegas comes immediately to mind when it comes to casinos and their associated courses. Perhaps the most famous is MGM Resorts’ Shadow Creek, an apparently Oz-like oasis in the middle of a desert. That Tom Fazio design regularly cracks the Top 50 and in some cases the top twenty of golf courses nationwide. Cascata Harrah’s is a Rees Jones design that also gets regular plaudits.
Thanks to attempts by states to raise additional revenues and tribal casino games, however, you can play casino courses in many states. In Michigan, you can play the Nicklaus and Player courses at the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa, which is owned by the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, who also run a number of nearby casinos. Bay Mills in Brimley has a casino course. In the Upper Peninsula are the highly regarded Sweetgrass course (associated with the Island Resort and Casino) and the Lac Vieux Desert Resort Casino and Golf Course.
A list of the top twenty casino golf courses from Golf Digest list tracks located in Minnesota, Idaho, California, Michigan, Connecticut, New Mexico, Mississippi. New York boasts the Turning Stone course, which has hosted a PGA Tour event. West Virginia has The Greenbrier, also a PGA Tour stop.
Best of all, these casinos often have great deals for stay and play packages. Their assumption is that after you play a round, you’ll spend the evening playing and they’ll make up any losses.