THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Lots of reasons to give a 'fore' thought

By Ron Driscoll
Globe Staff / August 2, 2009

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Dan Fitzpatrick of Worldwide Golf Vacations in Reading, which sells golf packages for about 120 resorts, has seen a downturn in business this year.

“It’s all based on how customers perceive the economic climate,’’ Fitzpatrick said. “People have to feel confident about making the investment in their health and well-being by taking a golf vacation.’’

Fitzpatrick also said that the resorts his company works with are less likely to discount rates than they are to add value, by offering daily breakfast or unlimited golf.

But there are savings to be had, from traditional golf hotbeds such as Myrtle Beach, S.C., to marquee resorts.

Pinehurst, N.C.
Last month, the US Golf Association announced that the Pinehurst Resort and its No. 2 Course will host the US men’s and women’s Opens on consecutive weeks in 2014, the first time one venue will host both events in the same year.

Why Pinehurst, a resort in the Sandhills region of North Carolina? The USGA thinks enough of Pinehurst that the 2014 men’s Open will mark its third time hosting the event in 15 years. No course has been awarded three Opens in such proximity in more than a century.

USGA executive director David Fay has described it this way: “The United States may not have a St. Andrews, but Pinehurst is the closest thing to St. Andrews [the sport’s birthplace] we have in terms of the history of the game. The whole place just exudes golf.’’

Since it is not a private club, anyone can stay and play at Pinehurst, where eight courses beckon, including four by Donald Ross, who considered the No. 2 course the masterpiece of his more than 400 designs. Ross lived at Pinehurst and tinkered with the layout for decades.

Pinehurst is offering what it calls the Back 2 Back package from Sept. 9-Nov. 7. Golfers will receive two rounds on the No. 2 course, a third round on another Pinehurst course, two nights’ stay, and breakfast and dinner daily. The package starts at $1,265, and those who book a midweek stay receive a $300 resort gift card per room.

Pinehurst also offers the Summer Tee package through Sept. 8, which includes three nights’ stay, four rounds of golf, breakfast and dinner daily, plus afternoon tea, and use of bicycles, pools, beach club, and fitness center, starting at $864. The No. 2 course carries a $175 surcharge on this package. Children age 12 and under stay and eat free with a paying adult, and children 17 and under play golf for free with a paying adult, except No. 2, where a $215 fee applies. www.pinehurst.com, 800-487-4653.

Hawaii’s Big Island
The Hilton Waikoloa Village on the Kohala Coast offers a pair of strong designs, the Beach Course by Robert Trent Jones Jr. and the Kings’ Course by Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish. Both courses are set amid lava fields, and the Kings layout offers dramatic extinct volcanoes as a backdrop.

Resort guests can take advantage of a discounted afternoon rate - and leave their clubs at home. It costs $99 between noon and 2:30, and $69 after 2:30 to play either course. The rate includes a cart and rental clubs and is available to two guests per room per day.

The resort also offers unlimited golf and family golf deals. www.hiltonwaikoloavillage.com, 808-886-1234 or 1-800-HILTONS (445-8667).

Scottsdale, Ariz.
Have it both ways at the Intercontinental Montelucia Resort & Spa just outside Phoenix. The Ultimate Golf & Spa Getaway includes a choice of two rounds of golf per day at some of Scottsdale’s top courses, including Grayhawk, Troon North, and Talking Stick, or two 60-minute spa treatments at Joya Spa daily. A guided hike up Camelback Mountain and daily breakfast for two are also included, and the fourth night’s stay is free. The package starts at $310 per night and is available through Dec. 31. www.icmontelucia.com/golf, 888-627-3010.

The Fairmont Scottsdale offers the Practice to Pamper package, a combination of indulgence and instruction to help lower the handicap. Women take a two-hour lesson at TPC Scottsdale’s Tour Academy, followed by a 60-minute golf performance massage at Fairmont Scottsdale’s spa, Willow Stream. The package, including accommodations, starts at $489 per person and is available year-round. www.fairmont.com/scottsdale, 866-540-4495.

Orlando, Fla.
Tom Watson electrified the sports world with his pursuit of a sixth British Open last month, and the Reunion Resort here offers the only trio of courses designed by Watson and fellow legends Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, who have combined for a staggering 33 major titles.

Through Sept. 30, the Sunsational package offers unlimited golf for each night of stay and accommodations in a three-bedroom villa for as low as $119 per person. Along with its 54 holes of golf, Reunion Resort features a nature preserve, Annika Sorenstam’s golf academy, a boutique spa, pools, water playgrounds, and a lazy river. It’s also just 6 miles from Walt Disney World. www.reunionresort.com, call 888-418-9611.

Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
Just a little northeast of Orlando is another outstanding summer offering at the Sawgrass Marriott, home of the PGA Tour’s Players Championship. Henrik Stenson was the latest champion at the Stadium Course, with its famed island par-3 17th hole. The Summer Special includes two nights’ accommodations, two rounds on the Stadium Course, one round on the adjacent Valley Course, a personal forecaddie, and a one-hour lesson at the Tour Academy, starting at $628 through Sept. 30. 888-421-8555, www.pgatourexperiences.com.

Ixtapan de la Sal, Mexico
Maybe it is possible to have it all. The Ixtapan Spa Hotel and Golf Resort, already rated one of the most affordable spas in the world by Spa Finder magazine, is offering 20 percent off all-inclusive spa and golf packages. The resort is located in the Sierra Madres, about 65 miles southwest of Mexico City. Its five-day, four-night golf package includes accommodations, meals, a relaxation and a deep-tissue massage, a facial and foot massage, two rounds of golf, and lessons, all for $710 per person, double-occupancy. Singles are only $25 more per night, or $100 for the four-night package. 800-638-7950, www.spamexico.com.

London-to-Boston
Crystal Cruises is adding three golf courses to its 14-day trans-Atlantic cruise, which departs Sept. 3 from London to Boston. The Experiences of Discovery golf cruise allows guests to tee off in Scotland, Iceland, and Nova Scotia, and players will be accompanied by former major-league pitcher and standout golfer Rick Rhoden, who will also offer instruction.

The courses include Nairn Golf Club in Scotland, which is one of the top 25 courses in Britain and has an opening stretch of holes along the coastline; and Glen Arbour Golf Course in Nova Scotia, which features lots of elevation changes and tricky greens.

Fares start at $4,745 per person, double-occupancy, and golf excursions start at $339 per person. The trip can be taken back-to-back with an Aug. 23, round-trip London golf cruise, which offers play in six British Isles ports, for the ultimate golf vacation. 888-799-4625, www.crystalcruises.com.

Myrtle Beach
If you’re inclined to want to play all day, the Glens Golf Group offers the 3-Play Replay Special from Sept. 10-Jan. 20, 2010. Book a minimum of three days of morning tee times at the Glens courses (Heather Glen, Glen Dornoch, Possum Trot, or Shaftesbury Glen), and receive a free replay round every afternoon at the same course. The rate runs from $286 at its low in December and January, to $433 in October, and includes four days of golf, three nights’ stay in a two-bedroom, two-bath condo at Village at the Glens, cart fees, and practice balls. www.glensgolfgroup.com, 888-999-9520.

Also at “The Beach,’’ those looking to tweak their swing can spend a day at the Steve Dresser Golf Academy, which has two of South Carolina’s top six teachers in a recent Golf Digest ranking. The one-day weekday class includes four hours of instruction, a take-home video analysis, a round of golf on either of the well-regarded on-site courses (Caledonia and True Blue), plus lunch, for $199. 800-397-2678, www.dressergolf.com.

Ron Driscoll can be reached at rdriscoll@globe.com.