If you’re like the Guru, you can’t get enough of legendary, classic golf destinations like St. Andrews, Pinehurst and Pebble Beach.
That said, how about channeling your inner Daniel Boone to become a pioneer seeking new frontiers to tee up.
Here’s a list of exciting golf destinations that have emerged as great golf vacation destinations:
|Royal County Down|
North of Dublin, Ireland–For those who head north of this great city, the rewards are great. Among your must plays should be Royal County Down and Royal Portrush, of course. This region has some of Ireland’s best and most natural links courses. Courses that that I highly recommend, include Carne Golf Links, Enniscrone, Ballyliffin, Donegal, Rosapenna and County Sligo. One of the many attributes of this region is you don’t have to pile up the miles on the rental car. Most of the courses are situated between 30 and 60 minutes from each other. Also, don’t miss the Bushmills Distillery tour in the charming village of Bushmills.
Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada–First came Cabot Links (ranked 82nd on Golf Magazine’s list of Top 100 Courses in the World), and now debuting in July 2015 is its sister layout, Cabot Cliffs. Mike Keiser, developer of Bandon Dunes in Oregon, recruited Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw to design Cabot Cliffs, a spectacular golf experience encompassing rolling, coastal dunes, soaring, jagged cliffs and Atlantic Ocean views. In fact, 10 holes are set along the water. Dare I say, some writers are referring to Cabot Cliffs as Canada‘s answer to Pebble Beach.
|St. Endreol Golf Course|
South France–One of the Guru’s favorite places to visit on planet earth is the French Riviera. Stunning, scenic beaches, superb farm-to-table cuisine enjoyed al fresco at elegant restaurants and bistros, great local wines and a sophisticated, easy going lifestyle are just a few of the many attributes in the South of France. For golfers, there are more than 50 golf courses to play along the 500 mile coastline. Course settings range from links style layouts to ones dominated by pine forests. The preeminent expert at planning and executing golf-oriented getaways to the region is John Wiggins at Chardon Luxury Golf Breaks.
|Quivira Golf Club|
Los Cabos, Mexico–Known for its phenomenal deep sea fishing where the Sea of Cortez merges with the Pacific Ocean, Los Cabos has evolved in the past two decades as luxury golf destination with a variety of layouts donning designer tags like Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Tom Weiskopf and Robert Trent Jones II. The newest places to tee up were designed by two of golf’s biggest stars: The Quivira Golf Club, a Jack Nicklaus design at an oceanfront community and Tiger Woods’ El Cardonal at Diamante.
|Argentario Golf Resort & Spa|
Tuscany, Italy–The Guru loves this fantastic region of Italy for the same reasons many others do. The combination of world-class wines, incredible cuisine and Medieval hill towns and several great resorts make this a very appealing golf destination. Tuscany, with its rolling hills, rows of poplar trees, vineyards and cities like Florence, Pisa and Siena is one of the most beautiful parts of Europe. Enhancing the attraction for golfers are excellent, luxury resorts with golf such as Argentario Golf Resort & Spa, La Bagnaia Resort and Toscana Resort Castelfalfi. For an expert on the region, click to igolftuscany
Seattle, Washington–The spotlight will shine brightly on Seattle in 2015 as Chambers Bay will host this year’s U.S. Open. One of America’s great municipal golf courses, this Robert Trent Jones II layout is unlike any other muni you’ve ever played. A walking-only layout, Chambers Bay is a wonderland of fescue grasses, massive sand dunes and wide fairways. Enhancing the overall golf experience are the awesome panoramas of the Puget Sound and snow-capped Olympic Mountains in the distance. Other courses to play in and near Seattle include Salish Cliffs, Gold Mountain and Kayak Point.
|Montgomerie Maxx Royal|
Belek, Turkey–This dynamic beach town on Turkey’s southern coast is part of what is often referred to as the Turkish Riviera. Designers like Nick Faldo, Colin Montgomerie and David Feherty have fashioned courses in the region. The Belek area has 14 golf courses and 50 hotels. Many of its resorts are 5-star quality and operate on an all-inclusive basis. Dense pine forests and Eucalyptus trees add character and challenge to many courses in Belek. Some of the top layouts include Antalya Golf Club, Montgomerie Maxx Royal Golf Course and the 27-hole complex at Cornelia Diamond Resort.
Puerto Rico–I’m amazed that so many golfers overlook Puerto Rico when they’re searching for a golf getaway in the Caribbean. The lush island, which is 100 miles long and 40 miles wide, is a U.S. territory so it’s easy to navigate. Most residents speak some English, you don’t need a passport and the U.S. dollar is the accepted form of currency. In addition to the fantastic El Youngue National Rainforest and numerous opportunities for hiking, paddleboarding and snorkeling, Puerto Rico has 30 golf courses to play. Some of the best places to tee up are Royal Isabela, Trump International Golf Club, Bahia Beach and the Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Beach Resort & Spa Ocean and River courses. Better still, it’s only a 2 hour and 35 minute flight from Miami and 4 hours from New York City.
|Black Butte Ranch|
Oregon–While Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, understandably, receives most of the headlines and publicity, this state also has exceptional golf offerings in Bend, Portland and the northern coast. If you love mountain views, head to Bend in the central part of the state. Robert Muir Graves has a couple of outstanding courses in the area–Greens at Redmond and Big Meadow at Black Butte Ranch. Central Oregon is also home to Pronghorn Golf Club and Crosswater Golf Club. The must play in Portland is Pumpkin Ridge.
New Mexico–While many golfers seeking a western U.S. golf destination head to Phoenix/Scottsdale, Las Vegas or Palm Springs, New Mexico is a great, value-oriented option. The state has 310 days of sunshine each year and the courses are less crowded and more affordable than other more popular golf destinations. You can’t beat the high-desert scenery and mountain peaks framing some courses. There are several great, nationally ranked courses in the Albuquerque area, including Twin Warriors Golf Club, Paa-Ko Ridge Golf Club and Championship Golf Club at the University of New Mexico.