The Isle of Eriska is a 300-acre private island at the mouth of Loch Creran in Benderloch, West Argyll. It's tethered to the mainland by a tidal causeway and a bridge that rumbles your arrival when crossed. The access road ebbs and flows through a woodland colored by giant rhododendrons, before arriving at the Big House, a magical 19th-century Scottish Baronial mansion that's now a five-star, Relais & Chateaux-member, family-run hotel.
While some exclusive hotels are undeniably stuffy, the Isle of Eriska is warm and welcoming, with a genteel ease that matches the soft patina of age. It's the kind of retreat where well known British actresses can escape, and other guests will pretend not to recognize them; the kind of place where a slew of Wellington boots is available at the door for guests to borrow while walking the island's trails. While staying here admittedly is a splurge (from $536 per room in summer, including breakfast and afternoon tea; check for specials), it's possible to experience the island without booking a room. Many of the hotel's amenities are open to the public, allowing anyone a peek at this magical property, with its expansive views over Loch Linnhe and the Morvern Mountains.
The Big House is everything you'd expect, grand in stature, expansive, and country-house elegant. Wood-burning fireplaces warm the public rooms: cozy nooks and grand salons, a piano room, paneled hall, book-packed library lounge, and glass-in conservatory, and a fine dining restaurant. A former stable has been converted to a spa, with an indoor swimming pool, and a restaurant serving lunch. Another outbuilding houses an indoor putting green, full-size tennis court, three badminton courts, and facilities for other sports. Outside are gardens and woodlands, with nature trails dipsy-doodling around and across the island. Sightings of deer, seals, and even otter aren't uncommon. And everywhere are jaw-dropping views of mountains and sea.
Non-guests may have lunch in the casual Veranda Restaurant, with its dream views; enjoy a spa treatment; or play a round on the recently refurbished nine-hole golf course, on which nearly every hole has a water view. Of note: A special golf academy, Sept. 7-9, will include indoor and outdoor group lessons with a PGA professional, lunches, and mini competitions.
Also open to the public for dinner is the hotel's main dining room, named Hotel Restaurant of the Year in the 2011 Scottish Restaurant Awards. Chef Simon McKenzie's menu emphasizes locally sourced foods and changes daily. A four-course gourmet meal with tea or coffee is $73, and that includes the farmhouse cheese trolley, with about 40 cheeses sourced from Britain and beyond. Afterward dinner, retire to the lounge for the nightly entertainment: A family of badgers arrives at the conservatory door for their 10 p.m. milk and bread.
While you can easily drive to the Isle of Eriska, I recommend the West Highland Line train to Oban, a spectacularly scenic route that edges the River Clyde and Loch Lomand, passes through glens and villages and by castle ruins. It eases you into the Scottish Highlands and sets the stage for arrival at the Isle of Eriska. Passage is included on BritRail passes, but due to the train's popularity, it's wise to reserve a seat.
Bay Point Golf Resort & Spa is offering room, 18 holes of golf at The Meadows Course and a $25 gift card for food or merchandise at Club 19 or the resort’s pro shop. For an additional $20, guests can play the only Nicklaus-designed course in northwest Florida. Rates begin at $139 a night, and for more information call 800-874-4025 or visit http://www.baypointgolf.com/baypointcc.asp?id=16&page=438
Edgewater Beach & Golf Resort has teamed with Hombre Golf Club to offer a stay-and-play package, which includes accommodation in a one-bedroom golf villa and a round of golf at the club, site of the second stage of the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament. Rates start at $129 and includes
free rental of clubs, cart and range balls. For information, call 800-874-8686 or visit http://www.edgewaterbeachresort.com/
Royal American Beach Getaways and Nature Walk Golf Club are offering a “Gulf & Golf” package which includes accommodations at Boardwalk Beach Resort Hotel. Fall rates start at $79 per room, and $15 per round of golf. For information, call 800-224-4853 and use promo code “golf,” or visit http://www.boardwalkbeachresort.com/Index.aspx
AAA Four Diamond-rated Samoset Resort in Rockport, Maine, is offering a "Cape Air Escape Package" for August and September, exclusive to customers who fly from Boston to Rockland on Cape Air, a one-hour jaunt out of Logan Airport. Cape Air customers get a free shuttle pickup upon arrival, a free round of golf at Samoset Golf Course (which terrific ocean vistas as you putt along), and a $100 resort credit for any of the resort's facilities, including the new La Bella Vita Ristorante, and the newly opened spa.
The package starts at $269 per midweek night in August, and $239 in September, with the promo code ESCAPE. It requires a three-night minimum stay, and can be booked at www.samosetresort.com or by calling 800-341-1650. Cape Air flights from Boston to Rockland start as $59 each way, and can be booked at www.capeair.com
Swing into spring at the Bacardi National Par-3 Championship, a two-day, 36-hole championship golf tournament to be played at The Fairmont Southampton, in Bermuda, March 26-27, 2011. A Pro-Am is scheduled on Friday, March 25.
March is a lovely time to visit the Atlantic island of Bermuda. It's still off season, so you'll have the beaches practically to yourself (although the water may be chilly); it'll be far easier to get starting times on the island's other golf courses; you likely won't be sharing the island's sights—museums, shops, forts, and trails—with the cruise ship crowds; and best of all, the price is right.
The sanctioned golf tournament, which benefits the Bermuda Red Cross, is open to amateur and professional golfers, and includes both professional and amateur divisions for men and ladies. The entry fee, $225 for professionals or $175 for amateurs, includes a practice round of golf, tournament fees, lunch on both days of the championship, and a welcome gift. Deadline to register is March 1, 2011. Overnight accommodations at The Fairmont Southampton are available from $179 for participants and attendees.
For a winter getaway, head to Camelback Inn in Arizona's Sonoran Desert, where the daily highs average 75 degrees. Located on 125 acres in Paradise Valley, the inn offers private hiking trails and meditation areas and 453 guest rooms and suites. The Scottsdale property, a JW Marriott Resort & Spa, also has six all-weather lighted tennis courts, two 18-hole golf courses designed by Arthur Hills, and a spa offering loofah treatments, an adobe clay purification wrap, or a traditional massage. Five restaurants serve everything from Southwestern fare with a Mexican twist to American steakhouse cuisine with a French influence. Children can hang out at the kids' pool or playground. Rates from $279. 800-242-2635, http://www.camelbackinn.com
Posted by Kari Bodnarchuk
Bermuda’s Port Royal Golf Course, home of the PGA Grand Slam of Golf, is offering a half-off deal to visitors who compete in their twice-weekly tournaments at the course.
The Bermuda Department of Tourism and the course created the Port Royal Visitor Tournaments, with competitions every Monday and Thursday through March 31. Participants get 50 percent off green fees, including carts, chopping the cost to $90 per person.
Prizes go to the top three golfers in each tourney and the winner gets a commemorative victory certificate and prize from the pro shop. All tourneys are played using the Calloway system, which allows all levels of players, with or without handicap, to compete together. The events run from 8:30 a.m. to noon.
The program coincides with Bermuda’s “Compliments of Bermuda” promotion featuring destination-wide savings of every third night free on hotel stays at participating properties. Bookings are going on now through March 12, for travel Nov. 15 through March 15 of next year. Visit http://www.bermudatourism.com for more info.
Port Royal Golf Club, a Robert Trent Jones-designed course, underwent a recent $15 million renovation and is the longest course in Bermuda, at 6,842 yards. For information, visit http://www.portroyalgolf.bm or call 441-234-0974.
Photo: Port Royal Golf Course
Keswick Hall, a 48-room boutique hotel in the foothills of Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains, has launched a golf school geared to beginners. At the Keswick Club's Golf School for the Novice, run by pro Eric McGraw, you can take beginner-friendly classes on an 18-hole, Arnold Palmer-designed course. Sign up for one- to three-day sessions on your own or with a group. Along with the basics, you learn rules and etiquette, and how to talk like a golfer. Courses range from $215 (one day) to $645 (three days). Rooms start at $255 per person, per night throughout the summer, and include passes to the Keswick Club and access to the spa, fitness center, and indoor/outdoor pool. 888-778-2561, www.keswick.com
Posted by Kari Bodnarchuk, Globe correspondent
You're a golfer and you dream of playing at a course that hosts the USGA or the PGA. If you're an American Express member, you're in luck.
American Express today announces its Championship Tees program that gives cardmembers the opportunity to play a selection of courses that have or will host USGA and PGA of America championships.
The program kicks off July 12 at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wis., home to this year's 2010 PGA Championship. The event includes a clinic, lunch, 18-hole shotgun, and evening cocktails for a fee of $450.
Aug. 20-22 at Pinehurst Resort #2 and #4 in North Carolina -- for $800 per person single, $650 per person double -- members will enjoy a cocktail reception, 18-hole shotgun on #4 on Saturday, a formal dinner Saturday evening, and an 18-hole shotgun on #2 on Sunday.
The program continues throughout the year at courses across the country including The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort in South Carolina and Chambers Bay in Washington State.
To purchase ticket packages, visit the Members Clubhouse.
Space is limited.
Photo of Whistling Straits: American Express
Labor Day marks the 30th anniversary of the Links Course at Wild Dunes in Charleston, S.C., Tom Fazio's first major solo design. To celebrate, the resort is offering rooms for $30 a night for any golf traveler who plays the Links Course at the regular rate of $165.
A weekend room at the resort's Boardwalk Inn in mid-May would otherwise cost $278 a night; a condo-style studio would be $314.
The rate is based on double occupancy in select accommodations through May 27, when arriving on a Sunday, Monday, or Tuesday. Restrictions apply. Call 888-778-1876 to book.
Photo: Wild Dunes
If you love your golf clubs so much that you haul them along on vacation, you know what a pain that can be. Ocean Club Resorts on Turks and Caicos is lessening your load by paying for up to three days of club rentals, a savings of $180, at the nearby Provo Golf Club – the only course on the island. The club, which opened in 1992, was designed by Karl Litten and is routinely named one of the top 10 Caribbean courses.
The Ocean Club Resorts’ offer is for stays now through April 4, booked through its US reservations office (800-457-8787, www.oceanclubresorts.com).
Ocean Club Resorts is comprised of two properties, Ocean Club and Ocean Club West, a mile apart on Grace Bay Beach, offering a “Stay at one, play at both” option which allows use of both resorts’ amenities if you stay at either. Ocean Club is a long tee shot from the golf course.
And if you find yourself in the sand too much at Provo Golf Club, come back to Ocean Club where the Grace Bay Beach sand won’t treat you nearly as badly.
Posted by Paul E. Kandarian, Globe correspondent
Photo of Provo Golf Club courtesy of the club
There is something to be said for making a savvy investment, and that goes for "gifting" as well as receiving. Your near-and-dear, golfing dad has probably gone through several umbrellas, which are required to bear up under — not only wind and downpours — but occasional mistreatment by a carrier who has just missed a par-saving putt. Not necessarily your Dad, but it does happen! When it comes to golf umbrellas, there is probably no better way to go than Davek. They have been touted all over the industry and the quality is backed by a lifetime guarantee. You receive a loss protection card with the umbrella that allows you to replace it at half-price (provided, of course, that you hang onto said card, which has a 16-digit code keyed to your umbrella). The Davek umbrella feels noticeably sturdy, and that impression is backed by testing. Its design vents the wind through flaps, and it has been tested at an MIT aeronautics lab to withstand gusts of 60 miles an hour. We’ve seen too many breeze-buffeted umbrellas scamper away from their owners while a shot was being addressed, so the clincher for us is the anchor spike. The conventional handle can be unscrewed and flipped over to expose a spike that can be pushed into the ground to keep your umbrella in place. A smart player can also prop an extra club or two against the inner canopy of the umbrella to keep their grips dry while the current shot is played. The golf umbrella is $79 and comes in five color combinations — actually, to paraphrase a quote attributed to Henry Ford, you can have any color you like as long as it’s black. The colors are all-black, black-yellow, black-red, black-green, and black-blue. Go here to order or to find a store near you.
Marriott is offering active, reserve, and military personnel a deal at 26 Marriott golf courses across the country. With Fairway Furloughs, members of the armed forces with a valid military ID card get discounted green fees/carts, ranging from $29-$69 after 3 p.m. any day of the week, year round. Tee times can be made up to three days in advance.
"In this country, we have hundreds of thousands of active, reserve, and retired military personnel who play golf, and we can't think of a better way to reward their unmatched dedication,'' said Bill Nault, vice president, Marriott Golf.
The complete list of participating courses includes: Camelback Golf Club, Scottsdale, Ariz.; Desert Springs Golf Resort, Palm Desert, Calif.; Doral Golf Resort & Spa, Miami, Fla.; Grande Pines Golf Club, Orlando, Fla.; Grande Vista Golf Club, Orlando, Fla.; Hawk's Landing Golf Club, Orlando, Fla.; Renaissance Vinoy Resort, St. Petersburg, Fla.; Shadow Ridge Golf Club, Palm Desert, Calif.; Starr Pass Golf Club, Tucson, Ariz.; The Rookery at Marco, Naples, Fla.; Wildfire Golf Club, Phoenix, Ariz.; Cattails Golf Club, Kingsport, Tenn.; Griffin Gate Golf Club, Lexington, Ky.; Kauai Lagoons Golf Club, Lihue, Hawaii; Stone Mountain Golf Club, Stone Mountain, Ga.; Crane's Landing Golf Club, Lincolnshire, Ill.; Westfields Golf Club, Clifton, Va.; and Willow Crest Golf Club, Oak Brook, Ill.
For more information on the program, visit here.
The Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina is home to one of the revered courses in the United States, Pinehurst No. 2, which legendary architect Donald Ross tweaked and prodded for decades after he first built it in 1907. The course hosted US Opens in 1999 and 2005, and the event will return in 2014. But Pinehurst’s roster of courses is numbered 1 through 8, the largest collection of holes at any resort in the country, and much golf history has been written there, including Ben Hogan’s first win as a professional and Payne Stewart’s victorious putt in 1999. It has also topped the annual Travel + Leisure Golf magazine reader poll as the best golf resort in the country three of the past four years. Where better, then, to gorge oneself on an unlimited golf package? Pinehurst, located in the Sandhills region of the Carolinas, is offering as much golf as you can play for $515 per day, per person, double-occupancy, the typical daily rate for 18 holes. The package requires a minimum two-night stay and includes breakfast and dinner (including on the evening of arrival), unlimited play with cart, a sleeve of golf balls, club storage, and use of the practice range, beach club, and fitness center. The special runs through May 30, and visitors who book the package for Sunday through Wednesday receive a $300 gift card per room for use anywhere on the property. The No. 2 Course requires a $175 upgrade fee, and the unlimited golf offer is subject to availability. In addition, golfers can enter a spring sweepstakes to win unlimited golf at Pinehurst for an entire year. Register here for the opportunity to play unlimited golf with a friend between June 1 and May 31, 2010, on any and all of the eight on-site courses, four of which were originally designed by Ross, with other layouts crafted by Rees Jones, Tom Fazio, and Ellis Maples. Pinehurst is just under a two-hour drive from the Greensboro and Raleigh/Durham airports, and just over two hours from Charlotte. For more information, call 800-487-4653, or go to www.pinehurst.com.
Pinehurst Resort photo
When will Tiger Woods return to the PGA Tour? There’s no doubt that both fans and Tour sponsors are eagerly awaiting his comeback from leg surgery, even as Woods and his wife Elin rejoice in the birth of their second child, son Charlie, over the weekend. But what if Tiger had never picked up a club? We as sports fans would have lost out on the chance to see some of the most dominant and thrilling feats in the sport’s history. Tonight at 9 on Golf Channel, an hour-long documentary called “Uneven Fairways” debuts. The film chronicles an era when honor and fair play took a backseat to segregation, and discusses the African-Americans who struggled not only against their opponents but against a prejudiced society to play the sport they loved. Samuel L. Jackson narrates, and weaves a tale of pioneers such as John Shippen, recognized as the first African-American pro golfer, who competed in five US Opens, the first in 1896. Bill Spiller, one of the top African-American golfers of the 1940s and ’50s, was instrumental in the PGA overturning its “Caucasian Only” clause in 1961. Ted Rhodes, who with Spiller initiated litigation against the PGA's clause, won an estimated 150 tournaments on the United Golf Association, which many liken to the Negro Leagues in baseball. Woods himself calls Charlie Sifford (above with Tiger), the first African-American member of the PGA Tour in 1962, “the Jackie Robinson of our sport.” When asked about meeting baseball pioneer Robinson, Sifford recalled, “He [Robinson] asked me if I was a quitter, and I told him no. He said, ‘All right, if you are not a quitter, go ahead and take up the game, but you are going to run into some obstacles that you are going to wish you hadn’t.’ But I never did quit.” In paying tribute to the pioneers, Woods said, “If it wasn’t for their focus and dedication to the game of golf, my father probably wouldn’t have played because he wouldn’t have had access to the game…so, in essence, I owe my entire career to them and their pioneering efforts.” That puts all golf fans in their debt. To learn more, go to www.GolfChannel.com/uneven-fairways. The show will air several more times this month.
If your idea of “rolling the dice” has less to do with a casino getaway and is more likely to involve taking a chance on decent golf weather, we present an opportunity in the Myrtle Beach area. The just-opened Towers on the Grove resort in the Cherry Grove section of “The Beach” is offering a three-round package with a trio of the most popular courses in the Grand Strand. The “chance” card involves the weather – the current 10-day forecast lists daytime high temperatures ranging from 48 to 62, with most days topping out in the high 50s. That certainly beats the heck out of our wintry mix, and the package prices reflect that it’s the chilly season in coastal Carolina. Through Feb. 25, a group of four golfers can stay at this oceanfront, Art Deco-themed resort in a three-bedroom condo with breakfast daily and a round of golf with carts for $104 a day each (if you can get there quickly, the rate is just $94 a day through Feb. 11). The courses for the package (three-round minimum) are Leopard’s Chase, Tiger’s Eye, and River’s Edge.
Collectively known as the “River Cats,” they are all located just over the border in North Carolina. River’s Edge, an Arnold Palmer design that plays along the Shallotte River, is No. 62 on Golf Digest’s list of the top 100 public courses in the US. Tiger’s Eye, which ranks 73rd on that same list, boasts 60-foot elevation changes and an island par-3. Both it and Leopard’s Chase were designed by Tim Cate and are part of the Ocean Ridge Plantation in Sunset Beach, N.C. A deposit of $100 per person is required, and holiday and weekend rates may be higher. With luck, the temperatures will be higher, too. Call 888-905-3001 or go here for more information or to book the package.
Planning to spend Super Bowl weekend in Las Vegas? Obviously, you’ll have the opportunity to lay down a legal bet on the NFL’s big game (the Pittsburgh Steelers are currently favored over the Arizona Cardinals by 7 points). And why settle for a lame square pool where you can’t even control which numbers you receive? In Vegas, you can make esoteric wagers such as whether the game’s longest field goal will be over or under 43½ yards, or whether there will be at least one scoreless quarter (the odds slightly favor scoring in every quarter). The Vegas oddsmakers had our Patriots, the Colts, and the Cowboys as preseason favorites to make Super Bowl XLIII, and well, that didn’t turn out so well for the teams or those who went with the chalk. If you’re going to be in Vegas, Walters Golf has a nice proposition for football fans who play golf. Tee it up at two of their three local courses in any combination over Super Bowl weekend (Jan. 30-Feb. 1), and you will be entered in a raffle to win one of two signed team helmets (one Steelers, one Cardinals). If you’re bringing your clubs anyway, play at Bali Hai Golf Club, Royal Links Golf Club (which features holes inspired by 11 British Open courses), and/or Desert Pines Golf Club, and you’ve got a shot at owning one of these two helmets (they’re valued at $3,500 apiece). And hey, if you’re a Patriots fan who isn’t particularly fond of either team, you can sell the helmet or just paint it over. Kidding, kidding.
As another snowstorm hovers over New England, we take a look in Sunday's Explore New England section on ways you can hone -- and even improve -- your skills in a few summer sports. Golfers and softball and baseball players need not wait until the grass is visible to take some swings and stretch out sport-specific muscles.We were reminded at one point during our interviews of how fiercely loyal players and coaches can be to their sport. It brought back high school memories of hockey players derisively calling us basketball players "roundballers," and questioning our toughness.
Frank Niles of the South Shore Baseball Club in Hingham has been involved in baseball for decades, and he talked of teaching youngsters the fundamentals by sometimes "tricking them into good habits." It wasn't important, he said, "to know which neurons in the brain were firing. We just stress that they stand on the balls of their feet and be ready when the ball is hit to them. Almost anybody can get better," he said, "and know that they are getting better.'' He paused. "If not, we can always send you to a soccer clinic."
Discount air service Direct Air, which will give Greater Boston travelers a taste of Virgin America service, is offering $140 roundtrip fares to two Florida and one South Carolina cities to mark the launch of its service from Worcester Nov. 22.
The sale will begins Friday Nov. 14 on the company’s website and will run through Nov. 21. Travel must be completed by Oct. 31, 2009, and the fare certificates are transferable. Customers will be limited to 20 certificates.
Direct limits baggage to two pieces per passenger and there is a prepaid fee of $20 per bag per direction, $25 if paid at the airport.
Ed Warneck, president of Direct, said yesterday the air service will reserve 10 percent of seats on flights for the special fares, ‘‘and will obviously let more in if we have available seats on planes.’’
Direct, based in Myrtle Beach, S.C., will fly on Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays into and out of Worcester Regional Airport, which hasn’t had regular commercial service since Allegiant Air, a discount airline and charter company based in Las Vegas, pulled out in 2006. The schedule calls for one arrival and one departure daily to its Florida destinations: Punta Gorda, near Fort Myers, and Sanford, outside of Orlando. Service to Myrtle Beach will take place on Thursdays and Sundays. Flight are nonstops.
Direct is an air service, which means it doesn’t own planes but leases them. For its Worcester service, it plans to use Virgin planes and flight crews for its Florida flights at least through spring of 2010 and USA Jet Airlines for trips to Myrtle Beach.
This will give local travelers who have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of Virgin an opportunity to sneak a peek at the airline, which has garnered attention for its luxury approach to lower-fare travel, with its leather seats, satellite TV, on-demand movies, streaming radio, and selection of MP3 music files.
We're not talking a long a funky 581-yard par-5 with a dog-leg to the left but if you happen to be in the Apple and are jonesing to get a club in your hand this may get you though the night.
The Crowne Plaza in Times Square, which has just undergone an $85 million renovation, says 18 rooms will be tricked out with mini-putting greens by the middle of this month. Rates will start at $349, and includes putters, balls and, of course, green fees.
Overall, the joint is pretty luxe with one butler floor (pretty much as it sounds) and five concierge floors. There is 24-hour brasserie service, a 29,000-square-foot health club, and a 50-foot indoor lap pool.
I mention all this only so you can be confident there will be other things to do in between rounds.
We’ve heard rumblings about temperatures falling into the 40s over the next few nights, and that doesn’t bode well for those hoping to maximize their golf activities. The Carolinas are sufficiently south of here that the game is playable well into late fall, and a couple of South Carolina resorts are offering deals specifically for women foursomes.
Wild Dunes Resort is 20 minutes from downtown Charleston, a lovely city worthy of a standalone trip. The resort itself is on the Isle of Palms and has two standout golf courses. Its “Putt and Pamper” package includes three nights’ accommodations, one round of golf on each of the Links and Harbor courses, breakfast daily, a 50-minute massage per person, and a Burt’s Bees gift basket for $164 per person per night, based on four people staying. Visit the Wild Dunes website or call 843-886-2255 to learn more about other custom packages such as golf and fishing, unlimited golf, golf/tennis, and the “Dudes on the Dunes” guys’ getaway, which includes the obligatory post-golf poker, beer, and snacks.
The Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort on Hilton Head Island, near Savannah, Ga., is offering the Girlfriends’ Golf Getaway package, which includes four days and three nights for four in a resort villa, two rounds of golf at your choice of three championship courses, court time at the Palmetto Dunes Tennis Center, a massage, and a one-day bike rental to explore the beach and resort. The package starts at $189 per person per night and is valid through November. Go to the resort website or call 800-827-3006 for more information.
Wanna get away -- and play some golf?
There are deals to be had over the next several weeks, particularly in places where late summer qualifies as the “low season.” The LaQuinta Golf Resort & Spa in Palm Springs, Calif., has two noteworthy courses designed by Pete Dye, and through Sept. 18, the golf vacation provider Worldwide Golf Vacations is offering an outstanding three-day deal for $489 per person, double-occupancy. The package includes three nights in a resort casita, a $50 dining credit per room per night, three days of unlimited golf on-site, a shared cart and pre-booked tee times, plus a three-day rental of a midsize car with unlimited mileage. The aforementioned courses include the Mountain Course, ranked among Golf Magazine’s “Top 100 You Can Play.” This scenic layout is carved into the Santa Rosa Mountains, and it has hosted the Senior Skins Game and golf’s World Cup competition. The resort’s Dunes Course (above) has a Scottish flair and demands accuracy off the tee. It has hosted the final stage of PGA Tour Qualifying six times, and is on Golf Digest’s “Top 75 Resort Courses” in the US.
Another deal is a bit less expensive and closer to home, but requires you to move a little more quickly. Kingston Plantation in Myrtle Beach, S.C., is offering a three-day package at $439 per person through Aug. 31, based on quad occupancy. The deal includes three nights in a two-bedroom villa, three rounds of golf, carts and pre-booked tee times, and a three-day minivan rental with unlimited mileage. For more information on these deals, and to view other available packages, go to the Worldwide Golf Vacations website, or call them at 800-946-5318.
Can you stand the heat the past few days? Well, it is probably comparable to what you would run across in Florida this summer... my point being that a famed PGA Tour course in the Sunshine State is offering a series of deals to play its hallowed ground this summer at greatly reduced rates. Doral Golf Resort & Spa in Miami, the home of a World Golf Championship event won by Geoff Ogilvy and Tiger Woods the past two years, has three events planned that will likely leave most players begging Doral’s famed Blue Monster course for mercy. The first is the Summer Solstice Slam on Wednesday, June 18, the longest day of the year. From dawn to dusk, golfers can play 54 holes on Doral’s Blue Monster and Great White courses with food and beverage provided (think hydration!!) for $175 per person. That is a savings of more than 50 percent over regular greens fees on those courses. OK, so maybe a three-round day on demanding courses isn’t your idea of fun. Doral will also host the Blue/White Aggregate Tournament on Thursday, Aug. 28, where players can take on the Blue Monster and the Great White in one day for $150, including continental breakfast and lunch, a savings of 60 percent over regular rates. Prizes awarded at this event will include a three-day/two-night Doral golf package for two, complimentary tee times for four on the Blue Monster and Great White courses, and gift certificates for closest to the pin, longest drive, and most improved score. Finally, on Blue Monster Day, Monday, Sept. 29, golfers will have the chance to play the tournament course from the pro tees, with a chance to “Beat the Pro” on the 9th hole, a 169-yard par 3 over water, of course (why do you think they call it the Blue Monster?). When you play No. 18, a 467-yard par 4 (shown above), you will be tackling what has ranked statistically as the toughest hole on the PGA Tour two of the past four years. Might be a good idea to bring your “A” game. Room rates start at $149 per night. For more information, go here or call (800) 71-DORAL.
The LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort in Naples, Fla., bills itself as rivaling Miami’s South Beach in ambience, and it has landed on Conde Nast Traveler’s Readers Choice list of golf resorts three years running. It offers a testing golf course along with a private white-sand beach resort, an elegant day spa, and fine seafood dining. And from May 26 through Sept. 30, the resort is offering its “Golf Away the Summer Days” unlimited play package to sweeten the deal. Rates start at $229 a night ($299 on weekend nights) and include accommodations, complimentary valet parking, resort fees, fitness center access, and unlimited golf for two. The Robert Cupp-designed, par-72 course is set up to offer a firm, fast playing surface similar to a true links layout, and 14 of the holes play around or over water. Rates do not include taxes and gratuities, and note that the golf course is closed on Mondays. For more information, call 800-237-6883 or visit laplayaresort.com.
If you're a golfer and planning on traveling in southwestern Ireland on May 14, here's an opportunity. County Limerick's five-star castle hotel, Adare Manor, is hosting the Irish Open May 15-18, and Irish golfer Padraig Harrington is returning to defend his title on the Robert Trent Jones Sr.-designed parkland course. Purchase a ticket to the event online prior to May 10, and you're automatically entered into a draw to play alongside Harrington in the Irish Open Pro-Am on Wednesday, May 14. Fine print: Men must have a certified GUI handicap of 24 or below; women 36 or below. Tickets for the event begin at 25 Euros; ages 15 and younger are free when accompanied by an adult.
If playing this course is too rich for your blood, consider the adjacent, but independent (despite its name) and far less expensive Adare Manor Golf Club, which wraps around ruins of a 13th-century castle, 15th-century Franciscan priory and church cemetery and provides views of another priory-turned-school and Adare Manor itself. Not too shabby.