How do you pick a “Sweet ‘16” wish list of places to visit when there are 50 states, just shy of 200 countries, so many places, so little time and we want to see it all? It’s not easy; in fact it might be more difficult than picking only one! We love new cultures, exotic sites, beaches, history and of course great golf. Gas is pretty cheap for rediscovering America right now and our dollar compares favorably to foreign currency. The world is as they say, our oyster. Let’s go!
Scotland – The original Home of Golf is an appropriate place to start and Alice has roots there too as her great grandfather to the seventh,
lost in the battled in Dunbar and was shipped to New England as an indentured servant. This was unknown when we wrote about representing the US in the International Pairs competition in St. Andrews in ‘08. Playing only the Dukes course for that event was a tease. It is time to hit more of the finest links, warm our hearts with Scotch and acquire the family tartan. Wales is right next door, too close to bypass with more castles per square mile than any other country. History is thick with Celtic legends and myths. The dramatic seaside golf is as spectacular as their stories. The four top courses, Nefyn and District, Royal Porthcawl, Royal St. Davids and Celtic Manor, site of the
Ryder Cup 2010 represent golf, as it should be for all golf lovers.
France – Love is in the air in Paris and the French need our support more than ever. Admittedly golf will be secondary to the sensations of Normandy, the art and architecture, sidewalk cafés with crème Brule and Marie Brizzard completing the meal. Perfumeries in the walled city of Eze and the French Riviera sweeten the destination. Golfbreaks.com handle the details for ultimate golf getaways in these three countries and many more. Coeur d’Alene whispers French in Idaho. It is the name given by French fur traders for the Native Americans, meaning The Discovered People. Course designers discovered that Lake Coeur d’Alene’s shimmering blue waters surrounded by pine forests create the perfect golf landscape to garner worldwide attention. The famous Coeur d’Alene Resort is a luxurious hotel on the water’s edge reflecting fabulous sunrises and sunsets. Arguably, it has the most scenic and demanding golf par 3 in the world, floating on an island in the lake. Circling Raven, the new Gamble Sands and more clubs within driving distance increase the draw of golfers, just 40 miles from Spokane Airport and 90 miles south of the Canadian border.
Vancouver – Considered one of the most beautiful and cleanest cities in the world, situated on the Burrard Peninsula, just above the Western Canadian border. The cityscape is framed by the snow capped volcano Mt. Baker of NW Washington and the North Shore Mountains. Upscale restaurants, shopping and museums compliment harbor activities. Less than 80 miles north is the 2010 Winter Olympic Games’ site at Whistler. The largest ski area in North America gives way to hiking and golfing in the summer time with four championship courses – Big Sky, Fairmont Chateau Whistler, Whistler Golf Club, and Nicklaus North. Breathtaking mountain views and clean crisp air make it a hunting ground for moose, elk, bear and other forest creatures. Camera ready?
Lanai, Hawaii – Jack Nicklaus must have been giddy about this design opportunity. His Manele Bay course is an island climb along the coast with ocean views from every hole above. The Hulopo’e Bay below is a marine preserve with coral ravines full of kaleidoscopic fish making it the Grand Canyon of snorkeling. Six other Hawaiian islands present great golf vistas but it is the extravagant yet calming Four Seasons Resort Lana’i at Manele Bay that leaves you longing to linger.
California Coast – Touring From San Diego to San Francisco and the Napa Valley above would take years to cover in detail. An amazing series of beach towns, vineyards and golf courses are scattered along the 500+ miles of coastline. Places like Monarch Beach and Carmel
by the Sea next to Pebble Beach stand out with coastal hideaways in between. Malibu, elephant seals, whale watching, Spyglass Hill and The Embarcadero Waterfront are but part of our California Dreaming.
New Zealand – Friends and relatives are never disappointed with kiwi land. We want to discover middle earth with the recreated Hobbiton movie set and be kidnapped by the extraordinary beauty of golf at Cape Kidnappers and Kauri Cliffs. Penguins are marching in the south and vineyards sprawl in between. The only complaint is the very long flight so we’ll play some bonus rounds in Australia with the kangaroos and koalas, and perhaps chance the sharks by snorkeling in the Barrier Reef.
Peru – Llama land, where they roam wild on the golf course in Arequipa and on the Inca Trail. This is one of the best hikes in the world to reach the engineering marvel Machu Picchu, the complex city of the ancient Incas. Don’t expect the llamas to carry your packs. Porters do that. Since the altitude can be a killer without the antidote of coca tea, we may take the train or a bus with chickens. It is a National Geographic childhood highlight.
Iceland – Attracting world visitors to sign up for the Arctic Open the end of June. Tee time is after midnight because the sun never sets during summer months. The golf season is short but brisk as this is the land of extremes with constant volcanic activity and glaciers covering most of the island. Hot pools are prevalent for healing tired muscles. They integrate the hot springs to heat their homes and pools as well. During winter the northern lights are a sight to behold. Icelandic
horses are hearty for riding year round. Iceland is touted as an economical air hub to Europe. We’ll let you know.
New England – No place like home, right? Actually we summer in upstate NY, which has another list of great spots but Cape Cod is calling
us in June. We’ve never seen Rhode Island and it’s high time to play golf with a college roommate in Vermont. If we continue through Maine, we may not be able to stop ourselves from rendezvousing in our beloved Prince Edward Island and then checking out the new Cabot Cliffs course in Nova Scotia. Suddenly so far from home, that’s how we roll with our new Golf Bikes in tow.
Florida Keys – Our springboard to the Caribbean Islands. Sing it – “Bermuda, Bahamas, come on pretty mama.” Who doesn’t enjoy white sandy beaches, blue azure seas with gentle crashing waves and fruity drinks? We loved Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and St. Kitts so much that we’ll eventually explore them all, tasting the spices, rums, coffee, and beats that are unique to each.
Cuba – Since Ricky Ricardo beat the bongo drums for I Love Lucy growing up; we’ve fantasized about Copacabana. At the PGA Merchandise Show Cuban native Leo Pereza hand rolls cigars. We asked in Spanish if we should visit there. “Como no (why not)?” Politics aside, it is time to research the business of golf, food and beverages like picadillo and Cuba Libre before the ‘50s cars are replaced and chain hotels shadow the sand. We’ll tell you how if we figure it out.
Bermuda – Wahoo! That’s a savory fish and our exclamation upon arrival. Bermuda is the “Jewel of the Atlantic.” Imagine soft pink sand at the stunning Rosewood Tucker’s Point. Pompano Beach Club is phenomenally recommended, right on the 18th tee box of Port Royal. Extraordinary too is The Turtle Hill Golf Club at Fairmont Southampton.
Bahamas – Seven-hundred islands, thirty inhabited. The Great Abaco Island flyover at www.theabacoclub.com is jaw dropping with the first tropical links course. Guests may rent a cabana or home before joining this private, privileged Abaco Club in Marsh Harbor. Water toys are included – sail, kayak, bike, hike, paddleboard and golf. What better way to keep in physical shape while the sea naturally restores mental health? On Paradise Island the LPGA gals frolicked in the sun after golf at the Ocean Only Club or RUI Palace Hotel.
Antigua – Everyone thinks we have already been there because we wear Antigua logoed apparel. The sportswear founder was so impressed
with his trip to Antigua that he named his company as such. Jolly Harbour and Cedar Valley vie for the island golfers. Sandals Resort commercials paint the dreamscape of the Caribbean and Antigua is just one of their all inclusive vacation spots.
Okay, we may not reach all these places in 2016 and there are always surprise trips. Trust that we’ll share all with you here in New England Golf Monthly and at www.golftravelweekly.com, hoping you enjoy vicariously through us as well as your own Sweet ’16 adventures.WHAT'S YOUR REACTION?