GolfBlogger’s Gift Guide: Golf Trips Pt.1

GolfBlogger’s Gift Guide: Golf Trips Part 1

The older I get, the more I appreciate the value of experiences, as opposed to the value of things.

Giving a gift of golf trips just might be the ultimate present. Whether you send your golfer out on their own, or accompany them to play (or even just to ride along), a trip is a gift that will never be forgotten. Encourage lots of pictures and on those cold winter days, your golfer will be able to browse through them and raise their spirits in anticipation of spring.

Here’s the first of two parts on recommended golf trips (Golf Trips Guide Part 2 at the link)

Pinehurst, North Carolina

GolfBlogger's Gift Guide: Golf Trips Pt.1 Pinehurst no 1
The second at Pinehurst No. 2.

Playing at the Cradle of American Golf is on the bucket list of every serious golfer [resort website]

Pinehurst No. 2 is Donald Ross’ masterpiece, and the Coore and Crenshaw restoration honors the spirit of the master. No. 3 is the shortest course at Pinehurst, but if you appreciate Ross’ designs it is well worth playing.

Of the courses I played there, though, I think I enjoyed No. 4 the most. Hanse did a masterful job in his reworking of the Donald Ross design.

I am anxious to return to play the remaining Pinehurst courses (and to try No. 4 and No. 3 again).

If you go, stay at one of the resort’s properties. It makes everything easier for getting between the courses. I stayed at the Hotel Carolina. It was fabulous.

Boyne Golf

GolfBlogger's Gift Guide: Golf Trips Pt.1 Bay Harbor
The seventh on the Quarry nine at Bay Harbor

Northern Michigan is America’s Summer Golf Capital, and no resort does it better than Boyne Golf with its “Magnificent Ten” courses. [Resort Website]

Boyne Golf has three destination resorts: Bay Harbor, Boyne Highlands and Boyne Mountain. Between the three resorts, Boyne Golf has 153 holes of golf, all of which are well worth playing.

My favorite might be The Heather, the Robert Trent Jones classic which literally started the golf boom in Northern Michigan. Some playing companions, however, have noted that I play significantly better on the Arthur Hills course at Boyne Highlands. Then again, I really love the Bill Newcomb design at the Alpine.

That highlights my “Boyne Golf Problem” — whatever Boyne Golf course I last played is my new favorite. They’re all that good.

Add to the spectacular golf seemingly endless lodging options and myriad of activities such as horseback riding, mountain biking, boating, swimming.

Forest Dunes

GolfBlogger's Gift Guide: Golf Trips Pt.1 Forest Dunes
Forest Dunes Eighth Hole

Tucked away in mid-Michigan is Forest Dunes, one of a handful of golf resorts in the United States with three courses on the Golf Digest Top 100 public course list. [resort website]

Forest Dunes’ The Loop is one of the most unusual routings in the world. Playing clockwise on one day, and counterclockwise the next, the genius of this Tom Doak design is that there are two very different courses in the space of 18 holes. The Loop Black plays clockwise, starting to the left of the eighteenth green and is rated #45 by Golf Digest. The Loop Red plays counterclockwise, and is rated #47 by Golf Digest.

Then there’s the Tom Weiskopf-designed “Forest Dunes” — the resort’s original, and namesake course. It’s my favorite course in Michigan.

Forest Dunes resort has recently added a fun ten hole called the Bootlegger, after the prohibition era gangsters that once owned the property. A two-acre, 18 hole putting course rounds out the resort’s golf fun.

There are plenty of lodging options and some great packages at Forest Dunes.

Bandon Dunes

GolfBlogger's Gift Guide: Golf Trips Pt.1 Pacific Dunes
Pacific Dunes

Bandon Dunes is proof of concept for the idea that “if you build it, they will come.” [resort website]

Located on an isolated stretch of Oregon coast, Bandon Dunes is not easy to get to, but worth every iota of effort. All five of the resort’s courses are ranked in Golf Digest’s Top 100.

Bandon Dunes, Pacific Dunes and Old MacDonald are as close to pure links golf as you will find in the United States. Bandon Trails is a trek through the woods, but with the same hard-and-fast, creative-shot-making ethos. All should be on every serious golfer’s bucket list.

I’ve not played the new Sheep Ranch, but if it is even half as good as the others, it’s still a step above.

There are a large number of lodging options at Bandon Dunes resort — which is a good thing because there isn’t much of anything in the surrounding immediate area.

Gull Lake View

GolfBlogger's Gift Guide: Golf Trips Pt.1 Stoatin Brae
Stoatin Brae’s tenth

Gull Lake View Resort, near Battle Creek, Michigan offers six fun courses, including the award-winning Stoatin Brae, which is the 2021 National Course of the Year and No. 96 on Golf’s Top 100 You Can Play list. [resort website]

During the Michigan golf season, I make a point of making at least one trip to play a Gull Lake View course. I enjoy them that much. This year, I played Stoatin Brae again, but as I write this, I am kicking myself for not making an additional trip to play Stonehedge South or Bedford Valley.

Stoatin Brae is a links style course routed across a midwestern hilltop. Gull Lake View East and West and Stonehedge South are woods and water courses winding through hilly countryside. Stonehedge North is notable for its balanced scorecard: each nine has three par 5s, three par 4s and three par 3s. Bedford Valley is a true championship course, having hosted numerous state tournaments.

Because I live relatively close to Gull Lake View, I haven’t tried any of their stay-and-play options. I am confident, however, that Gull Lake View has lodging options that will fit your needs.

Stay tuned for more recommended golf trips

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