During his lifetime (in the early 1900s), Alvin “Titanic” Thomson won and lost millions of dollars. He gambled, played pool, dice and bet on the golf course and on anything else for that matter he fancied. He hustled golfers big time. He is reported to have driven the ball 500 yards and Ben Hogan called him, “The best shotmaker I ever saw.”
Golfers are known to love to bet. Even Gerry McIlroy, Rory’s father, recently cashed in on a £100 bet he made 10 years ago that his son would win the (British) Open by next year. So let’s not be surprised that an idyllic golf getaway for many combines golf and casino action. Those looking for this dynamic duo have a lot of choices. Here are a few destinations near and far to check out.
With three casinos, a 1,200 room luxury hotel tower, world-class spa and 40 restaurants, Mohegan Sun in Uncasville is an incredible gaming venue. Add an 18-hole championship-caliber golf course, and you have a win-win. The resort’s Swing & Stay package includes overnight accommodations, two rounds of golf on the Mohegan Sun Golf Club course and a $25 beverage comp to use at the club. Mohegansun.com
Nearby in Ledyard, another casino resort, Foxwoods, has two stunning Rees Jones courses, Lake of Isles North and South that wind through 900 acres of wooded Connecticut countryside and around a lake. With six casinos, close to 40 restaurants and two spas, Foxwoods is one of the largest casino complexes in the country. A Foxwoods Golf Package gives you lodging, golf, use of the practice facility, gift package, $15 food voucher, $25 Match Play Voucher and complimentary drink at Shrine starting at $199. A Member for a Day Golf Package from $299 also includes golf on the private Lake of Isles South course. Foxwoods.com
About an hour east of Syracuse, the 3,400-acre Turning Stone Resort Casino delivers round-the-clock action with three highly-rated courses Kaluhyat, Shenendoah, and Atunyote, venue for past PGA Tour events and the sweet swinging par 3 Sandstone Hollow. Turning Stone has two spas, several dining venues and accommodations in the Tower and the quietly elegant Lodge. A Golfer’s Getaway Package includes lodging, unlimited golf after 4 pm on arrival afternoon on Kaluhyat or Shenendoah, 18 holes the next morning, lunch at the turn and a drink at the 19th holes. The Champion Package includes two nights lodging, three rounds of golf at each course, replays on same day (Kaluhyat, Shenendoah), and free golf at Sandstone Hollow. Turningstone.com
Atlantic City, New Jersey
Set along the east coast, an easy drive from New York, Atlantic City appeals to golfers looking for action on and off the course with a wide variety of accommodations, more than 150 restaurants and bars, world-class spas, top name concerts and comedy show. You also have designer shopping, beach, boardwalk and casinos. Eighteen golf courses including many on Atlantic City’s golf trail and seven on the Garden State’s top 10 public tracks, feature classic gems like the historic Atlantic City Country Club; Seaview Golf Club, home to an exceptional Donald Ross links gem; Shore Gate with its many bunkers and tall trees; and Twisted Dune, a creative layout with a more open routing.
Check out Casino hotels like Harrah’s Resort, Tropicana Casino & Resort, Trump Taj Mahal and Bogata Hotel Casino and for a variety of play and stay packages taking in both casino accommodations and golf, log on to PlayACGolf.com. While in town stop at the “White House for a belly busting sub sandwich. AC is famous for them.
If Nevada is the southwestern hub for casinos, Mississippi could be called the southeastern capital where you’ve got to get hooked on southern charm, catfish, hush puppies, and great southern barbecue. It is after all, the third largest gaming destination in North America as well as the birthplace of blues, rock’n roll and country music. And the state has something more: year-round great golf on more than 170 courses clustered primarily in the north and south.
Find plenty of casino action in the south at places like Harrah’s Casino Hotel and the Island View Casino where golf at Grand Bear Golf Club, a Jack Nicklaus course, lends an aura of the grand outdoors and Fallen Oak Golf Club, a Tom-Fazio beauty is enjoyed by high rollers and guests of the Beau Rivage Resort and Casino in Biloxi. In central Mississippi, The Choctaw Nation developed the Pearl River Resort complex with two casinos, Silver Star and Golden Moon, a world-class spa and two hotels. The Nation also brought in Tom Fazio and Jerry Pate to build two fabulous golf courses, Dancing Rabbit’s The Oaks and Azaleas.
Weekday Hotel Golf Packages start at $126 for your room, tax, golf, and breakfast. Dancingrabbit.com In the Pines region, stay on site in one of the villas, cottages or condominiums and you get to play Old Waverly Golf Club in West Point. It’s a class act that could put your Mississippi golf vacation over the top. Host to the 1999 Women’s Open Championship and this year’s ISPS Handa Cup on the Legends Tour, Old Waverly which is listed on “America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses”, is a superb Jerry Pate/Bob Cupp-designed course recalling some of the fine Scottish Highlands tracks, yet typifying the gracious demeanor of the Old South with fairways lined by majestic oaks. Not too far away is the gracious campus of Ole Miss. Oldwaverly.com
Mississippi offers a variety of stay and play packages incorporating five different regions in the state, The Hills, The Delta, The Capital/River, The Pines and The Coastal. For example a $200 offer from Gold Strike Casino, a MGM Resort in Tunica includes two rounds of golf at Tunica National, a Mark Mc- Cumber course, two nights accommodations, cart, lunches and preferred starting times. With a 50,000 square foot casino, after the sun goes down, the lights beckon in Gold Strike’s dazzling casino. Visit mississippi.org/gol/php.
Tee up at the Circling Raven Golf Club adjacent to the Coeur d’Alene Casino Hotel in Idaho. Voted Number One Tribal Golf Course in America, Greatest American Golf Courses (Golf Digest, 2009) and in the Top 100 Courses You Can Play (Golf Magazine (2008-2010), Circling Raven reveals huge vistas of mountains, wild flowers and rolling terrain. After golf head to the classy casino that all started with a bingo parlor and has now morphed into a first-rate casino facility with 100,000 square feet of gaming space. Hotel rooms are luxurious and like the public areas, furnished with beautiful Native American arts and crafts. Circlingraven.com
The high-end Coeur d’Alene Resort Course famous for it floating island green and very cool golf carts with heated seats is featuring its most popular package giving you lakeside accommodations, golf, Lake Shuttle to course, forecaddie service, use of golf cart, use of practice range, pre-round warmup sports massage, club storage, and personalized bag tag. cdaresort.com
Las Vegas, Nevada
The lights of the Las Vegas strip beckon with promises of outrageous entertainment, wedding chapels, countless restaurants, the chink chink of slots and game table buzz. Everyone has heard of “The Strip,” the place where colossal casino hotels rise and fall, where the fountains of Bellagio send water dancing high into the air and an Egyptianlike pyramid rises dark and looming. An erupting volcano announces The Mirage and a 45-foot tall bronze lion statue stands guard at MGM Grand. Wedding chapels range from Elvis tawdry to MGM Grand’s elegant mirrored baroque rooms with white pews edged with gold.
Yes, here in Vegas everything is over the top — in Vegas there is no morning, no night. Just 24 hours of fun. From your room in THEhotel at Mandalay Bay, an MGM resort, watch a movie on your 42 inch plasma screen tv and take a bubble bath in your large tub. A 24-hour Shark channel allows you to tune into what is going on in the shark tank — kind of like white noise. In keeping with the understated minimalist elegance of THEhotel, The Bathhouse spa is pure art with steam rooms, rainfall corridors and cool-to-hot pools. When they call a hotel with more than 1000 suites (THEhotel at Mandalay Bay), a boutique hotel, you know they’ve got to be talking about Las Vegas.
The golf courses surrounding this land of delicious pleasures are likewise over the top. The country’s most expensive course — yes more than Pebble— is here, the Tom Fazio-designed Shadow Creek where the green fee hovers around $500. But for ordinary folk there are several good deals combining hotel stays with golf such as the seven night/6 round deal rolling our six rounds of golf at different courses and hotel from $749 (Harrahs) up to $1,249 (Bellagio). Lasvegasgolfadventures.com
Mesquite, Nevada, is altogether different from glitzy, brash Las Vegas that rises out of the desert about an hour’s drive to the east. With a population of about 16,000 and a mere handful of casino resort hotels, Mesquite enjoys a more laid back pace and seven of the dozen or so area golf courses are within a five to 10-minute drive from the city center.
In Mesquite you get a winning combo of great golf, good prices and accessibility to everything from golf to food and entertainment. It’s a “must play” destination for golfers visiting the region with top shelf courses like Wolf Creek, CasaBlanca, Palms, Conestoga, Falcon Ridge and the Oasis. What makes Mesquite even better are its affordable accommodations and casinos like Eureka Casino Resort, a mid-sized, familyowned hotel with a lot of style. Check out Eureka’s play & stay packages at eurekamesquite.com or contact golfmesquitenevada.com
French Lick Resort, Indiana
Maybe you don’t know where French Lick is and maybe you think it even sounds kind of naughty. But the resort, set on 3,000 acres of drop-dead beautiful land, has a grand old tradition history dating from 1845 when guests used to come here for the soothing mineral springs. You have a choice of two hotels: French Lick Springs Hotel and the quieter and a tad more expensive grand West Baden Springs Hotel where the six-story domed atrium (circa 1902) was in its day, the world’s largest freespan dome causing the hotel to be called, the “Eighth Wonder of the World.”
Gaming action takes place in the 51,000 square foot casino while golf is accommodated on three golf courses: the restored Donald Ross course; a stunning Pete Dye course; and the original 9-hole Tom Bendelow track, easy to walk. www.frenchlick.com
Who hasn’t heard of The Greenbrier, a bastion of civility and old world elegance in White Sulphur Springs? It’s the place where Sam Snead used to spar with notable guests and anyone who would take a bet. It’s the home of the historic Old White TPC, venue for the Greenbrier Classic, PGA Tour event, along with two other tracks. Off-course guests can head to the very posh Greenbrier Casino where champagne toasts are offered on silver trays by white-gloved waiters. The Greenbrier’s Unlimited Golf Package gives guests as much golf as they want plus accommodations. greenbrier.com
Whatever you want to bet, you can bet a vacation where you get to play golf and hit the tables and slots after holing out. Some might call it the “Perfect Storm.”