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People in the northeast crack me up. They go on and on about how much they love “the four seasons,” but as soon as October hits, they’re scouring the internet in search of the ultimate warm-weather getaway spot. Maybe it’s the luxury hotel chain that they’re referring to. Or maybe they actually do like all four seasons, but just prefer to view winter from a safe distance.

As a golfer, I have sympathy for this. Our courses are in peak condition in autumn, and by that time of year my golf game is as good as it’s going to get. Shoving my clubs in the closet just because the earth has tilted away from the sun does seem like a draconian thing to do.

Fortunately, an industry sprang up long ago to cater to snowbound golfers. In Florida and the islands, resorts welcome us with open arms—then ask us repeatedly to open our wallets. It’s easy to find a place to tee it up in the sun. What’s harder is finding a place that’s worth the price of admission.

If you’re a snowbird who’s in search of the ultimate destination for your annual migration south, there’s one place you really should know about: The Abaco Club on Winding Bay. What makes The Abaco Club so special is that it isn’t a resort. It’s a private club community that you can visit up to three times as a guest in order to decide whether you’d like to become a club member or have a vacation home there. Trust me when I say that it won’t take three visits to make that decision.

For years a Ritz-Carlton Destination Club, The Abaco Club is now owned and operated by Newton, Mass.-based Southworth Development—one of the world’s leading resort and residential real estate firms. You won’t find any crowded, impersonal hotel at The Abaco Club. Instead, homeowners, club members and guests enjoy club concierge-level service and stay in charming cottages and cabanas—most with jaw-dropping views of brilliant aquamarine waters.

The club is located on the most charming of the Bahamas’ Outer Islands—Great Abaco—and is graced by a 2.5-mile, heart-shaped, powder-soft beach that stretches as far as the eye can see. Home to an armada of beach toys from Hobie Cats to snorkeling gear, there’s no better place to have fun in the sun.

But the incredible beach is only the beginning. Because The Abaco Club was created to be a true, multi-faceted sporting club. The club’s Scottish-style “tropical links” golf course, home to the Web.com Tour’s Great Abaco Classic, is completely unlike the flat and featureless courses you find in other warm-weather destinations. It’s great test that’s perennially ranked as the finest course in The Bahamas.  It’s so good, in fact, that European Ryder Cup Captain and 2011 British Open Champion Darren Clarke is a club member and has a home there. “The minute I leave is the minute I want to return,” Clarke says.

Along with the golf, spending time on the tennis courts or in the spa and fitness center are other popular Abaco Club options.  And the deep-sea fishing for trophy marlin and saltwater flats fly fishing for bonefish and permit are world-class in these climes, as is the island-hopping by boat from the club’s private marina. Cap it all off with an open-air lunch at Flippers Beach Bar, or the exquisite local cuisine offered daily at The Cliff House, and you have an island club community without peer.

The residences at The Abaco Club are magnificent, and come in many shapes and sizes, ranging from roomy cottages to grand oceanfront estates. Each home is within steps of the beach, and each is meticulously appointed with all of life’s necessities. Wake to the sound of crashing waves, stroll to the golf course or spa, or just relax on your private patio and look out over the calm, turquoise sea while the Abaco parrots chirp their warm morning welcome. It’s an atmosphere of quiet sophistication, where you, your family and friends can enjoy total relaxation when you want it—and a wealth of exciting activities when the spirit so moves you.

The Abaco Club is just a 30-minute flight from Florida. But it feels like it’s a world away. Put it on your winter bucket list—and don’t be surprised if you never see a northeastern winter again.

For more about The Abaco Club, visit www.TheAbacoClub.com.    

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