GolfBlogger’s Holiday Gift Guide Part 2: Golf Resort Experiences
The older I get, the more I become convinced that the best gifts are experiences. You lose golf balls, replace clubs, wear out clothes and finish books. But the memory of great experiences last a very long time indeed. A trip to a golf resort can be one of those unforgettable experiences..
One idea is to get the golfer in your life a gift certificate to a nice course in your area that he or she may not otherwise visit. I often feel guilty about spending family money on an expensive course when there’s a buck-a-hole muni just a short drive away. Gift certificates make that round guilt free.
If you really want to splurge, though, take — or send — your golfer on golf trip. I have had the good fortune to be able to visit some really nice places over the last few years. Here are some that I can recommend. Most are in Michigan, but there’s also Oregon, Texas, New York, South Carolina, The Bahamas — and Morocco. Yes, Morocco.
Bandon Dunes Golf Resort
Bandon Dunes golf resort, in Bandon, Oregon, boasts four top ranked courses, along with a thirteen hole par 3 and a 100,000 square foot putting course called The Punch Bowl. Currently, the resort’s Pacific Dunes is ranked #2 by Golf Digest among public courses, Bandon Dunes is #7, Old MacDonald is #12 and Bandon Trails is #14. The resort offers a variety of lodging options from single bed to cottages for larger groups. Located as it is on the Oregon Coast, Bandon Dunes golf resort is open for play year round. January temperatures average in the low fifties. July temperatures are in the mid sixties. You can read accounts of my Bandon Dunes adventures, Bandon Dunes course reviews and photos at the link.
Morocco Golf Resorts
Visit Morocco Website. A couple of years ago, I was blessed to be able to take a trip to Morocco to play golf — and, of course, take in the sights. If you’re looking for the golf trip of a lifetime, I can highly recommend Morocco. The golf is spectacular, the culture is exotic, the people are friendly, and the dollar goes a long, long way. Morocco is only an eight hour flight from New York. On my trip there, I played Royal Dar Es Salam (a Robert Trent Jones design) in Rabat, at the Mazagan Golf Resort, and at the Royal Palm golf resort in Marrakech. And, of course, I soaked in the local culture and food. I want to spend so much more time exploring that amazing country. Read about my Adventures in Morocco.
Boyne Golf Resort: Boyne Mountain, Boyne Highlands and Bay Harbor
Boyne Golf in Northern Michigan offers three resorts and ten courses — more holes of golf than you will find at any resort in America. Boyne’s Bay Harbor is ranked #84 on Golf Digest’s list of best public courses. The Heather is a 1966 course designed by Robert Trent Jones. Boyne offers some great deals with custom packages that can include not only unlimited golf and lodging, but meals and non-golf entertainment. There is nothing quite like golf in Northern Michigan. Read The Golfblogger’s Reviews on Boyne’s Bay Harbor, Crooked Tree, Heather, Alpine, Moor, and Donald Ross Memorial
Forest Dunes Golf Resort
Forest Dunes Golf Resort offers a unique golf experience in what is pretty much the middle of nowhere. But that’s a good thing. There are no distractions. The original course at the resort, Forest Dunes, is a Tom Weiskopf masterpiece that I think is on the short list of best courses in Michigan. The second (and third!) is the unique and utterly fascinating reversible course designed by Tom Doak, The Loop. You’ll need to stay at least two days at Forest Dunes because The Loop reverses on alternate days. Play The Black one day, and The Red on another. Schedule the must-play Forest Dunes on a third day. Forest Dunes has a lodge, villas and cottages for overnight stays.
The Gaylord Golf Mecca
The Gaylord Golf Mecca is a consortium of golf courses and lodging all within a short drive from Gaylord, in Northern Michigan. The courses include Black Lake, which I think is in the conversation for best course in Michigan, Gaylord Golf Club, Indian River Golf Club, The Loon Golf Resort, Michaywe Pines, Otsego Resort, The Natural At Beaver Creek, and the courses at Treetops: Premier, Signature, Masterpiece, Tradition and Threetops. Reviews at the links. The consortium has a group of area golf experts who can help you put together a great golf vacation.
Tullymore and St. Ives Golf Resort
Tullymore and St. Ives are two outstanding courses located in Canadian Lakes, Michigan. Tullymore is a fabulous Jim Engh design: imaginative and spacious. St. Ives, from well-known Michigan golf course designer Jerry Matthews, is a more traditional mitten state layout, with tree-lined fairways and significant elevation changes. Tullymore and St. Ives Reviews at the links. The resort has a hotel, condos, and cottages that sleep up to ten. The fabulous Lodge at Tullymore has ten bedrooms, each with two queen beds and a private bathroom. The shared area features a giant kitchen, and living room complete with pool table, poker tables and flat screen tvs. I’ve never seen a better place for a large golf outing.
Gull Lake View Golf Resort
Gull Lake View Resort, near Battle Creek, Michigan boast six fine courses: Gull Lake View East; Gull Lake View West; Stonehedge North; Stonehedge South; Bedford Valley and the newest, Stoatin Brae. These are among my favorite courses in the state, offering quality golf at good prices. I try to get out to play a couple of them each season. Stoatin Brae, created by Tom Doak’s Renaissance Golf Design group is in the conversation for a place in the Top Ten Courses in Michigan. The resort offers a variety of stay-and-play packages. I have not had the chance to stay at any of their facilities, but I have peeked at them and they look nice.
Arcadia Bluffs Golf Resort
Arcadia Bluffs Golf Resort, in Northern Michigan now features two courses: The original, known as The Bluffs, and a new course, The South. The Bluffs is well known: a dramatic Rick Smith design that ranks #13 on Golf Digest’s Top 100 public courses in the United States. The South is a very different experience — strangely more linksy in spite of being further inland and located on a former orchard. Both are must-plays in my book. Arcadia Bluffs, as you would expect, has top notch accommodations and dining.
Turning Stone Resort
Turning Stone is not properly a golf resort, but golf certainly is plentiful there. Located in Verona, New York, Turning Stone is a Resort Casino that features gambling, nightlife, lounges, spas, shows, fine dining and lots of golf. Turning Stone has five courses: Atunyote, Kaluhyat, Shenendoah, Pleasant Knolls and the par three Sandstone Hollow. Atunyote is a Tom Fazio design that comes in at number 75 on the Golf Digest Top 100 list. Kalhuyat, a Robert Trent Jones, Jr. design, ranks #90. As you might expect at a casino resort, lodging ranges from adequate to extravagant. You can get in a lot of activity at Turning Stone. It is also the kind of place you can take your non-golfing significant other.
Wild Dunes Golf Resort
Wild Dunes, near Charleston, South Carolina boasts two Tom Fazio courses: The Links and The Harbor. I had a chance to play The Links shortly after it was renovated a couple of years ago. It’s a terrific course. In addition to golf, the resort offers a Spa, beach activities, water sports, bicycling, tennis and a variety of workshops and local attractions. Nearby Charleston is an amazing city for history and food. This is another golf resort with plenty of things to do for the non-golfer in your life.
Sandals Emerald Bay Golf, Tennis and Spa Resort
Sandals Emerald Bay, on Great Exuma, is one of the few Sandals properties that offer on-site golf. Emerald Reef is a fun Greg Norman design to which I would love to return. There is just the one course here, but there is so much else to do at a Sandals Resort: pools, kayaking, windsurfing, snorkeling, sailboats, paddle boats, tennis, horseshoes, board games, pool tables, bocce ball, live shows, fitness center, local adventure tours and of course, Sandals’ famous basically unlimited food and drink.
Omni Barton Creek Golf Resort and Spa
Located in Austin, Texas, the Omni Barton Creek Golf Resort and Spa offers four courses: The Fazio Canyons and Fazio Foothills, the Coore-Crenshaw Cliffside and Arnold Palmer Lakeside. The facility is closed until May 2019 for renovations, but now would be a good time to make plans. In addition to golf, the resort has a spa, tennis, pools and other activities in the Texas Hill Country. It is also just outside Austin, which has as much going for it as any city I have ever visited. I would love to go back to explore more in Austin, Texas. I visited in the early spring, but the weather was still great.
Eagle Ridge Golf Resort
Eagle Ridge, in Galena, Illinois boasts three-and-a-half courses: The General, The North, The South and the nine hole East. For the non-golfer, the resort also has a spa, pools, horseback riding, bicycling, boating and fishing. Nearby downtown Galena is also a really neat place. For lodging, Eagle Ridge has hotel rooms, villas and houses. Eagle Ridge is a neat midwestern resort.
GolfBlogger’s Holiday Gift Guide: Golf Resort Experiences was first published December 5, 2018.