Monday, April 23, 2012

Conde Nast "Top 121 Golf Resorts" Poll is Puzzling

I don't want to disparage the readers of Conde Nast Traveler, but they did a sorry job of voting in the "Top 121 Golf Resorts" poll in the April 2012 issue.

Some of their selections are laughable.

In the "Top 20 Foreign Golf Resorts" there's no mention of Gleneagles in Scotland or Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, which are two exceptional resorts that amazingly didn't make the list. Atlantis, Paradise Island (tied for 20th) is a great place to gamble and race down water slides, but, no way I'm going there for golf over Punta Cana Resort, which has two great new courses designed separately by Tom Fazio and P.B. Dye.

Really mystifying is the "Top 20 Florida Golf Resorts", which confusingly leaves out superb multi-golf course resorts like Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort in Destin, Turnberry Isle Miami in Aventura and Reunion Resort in Kissimmee.

Instead, resorts like The Breakers in Palm Beach (No. 2), Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa in Lake Buena Vista (No. 7), Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables (No. 9), Gasparilla Inn and Club in Boca Grande (No. 10) and South Seas Island Resort on Captiva Island (No. 18) were selected by Conde Nast Traveler readers.

Are you kidding me?

While all of these properties are impressive on many levels, with the exception of The Breakers and Biltmore, they could hardly be considered golf resorts. At the Grand Floridian you must take a van to the nearest Disney course, South Seas Island Resort has an on-site 9-hole executive golf course and the Gasparilla Inn and Club is more likely to attract anglers seeking tarpon rather than golfers.

What's really confusing is the Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes (No.11) and JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes (No. 13), which  utilize the same Greg Norman-designed golf course. Unbelievably, they received different ranking numbers on the evaluation of "Course Design and Access". Apparently if you spend the night in the Ritz-Carlton you think more highly of the course (91.3) than if you sleep at the JW Marriott (82.4). The only explanation could be access, right? Well, the JW Marriott is located closer to the clubhouse and practice facilities than the Ritz so I'm not sure how you justify the numbers.

Did the readers spend too much time at the 19th hole before they voted?

While I don't feel qualified to rank courses in other areas of the world (even though I've played many on their lists), I know I can do better on Florida golf resorts. I've authored two books and written numerous articles on the best places to play in Florida.

Excuse me Conde Nast Traveler readers, but I can provide a better list for golfers contemplating a golf getaway to the Sunshine State.

Here's my Top 10 Florida Golf Resorts:

1. Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples
2. Grand Cypress Resort, Orlando
3. PGA National Resort and Spa, Palm Beach Gardens
4. Sandestin Beach and Golf Resort, Destin
5. Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island
6. Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes
7. Turnberry Isle Resort, Aventura
8. Reunion Resort, Kissimmee
9. Renaissance World Golf Village Resort, St. Augustine
10. Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort and Spa, Ponte Vedra Beach

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