The Ultimate Golf Travel Guide is a must-have for golf enthusiasts looking for the top destinations for golfers. Whether you’re planning a solo golf trip or a group outing, this guide has got you covered. It features a wide range of destinations where you can indulge in the best golf experiences. From tropical resorts with stunning coastal views to inland courses nestled amidst picturesque mountains, there is something for every golfer in this guide. Each destination is carefully selected based on factors such as course quality, amenities, and overall experience. Whether you’re a seasoned golfer or just starting out, you can find the perfect golf resort to suit your needs.
So, whether you’re dreaming of playing a round in sunny California, teeing off in the lush greens of Scotland, or enjoying the tranquil beauty of Thailand, this guide will help you in planning an unforgettable golf trip. Get ready to tee off and explore the world’s best golf destinations with The Ultimate Golf Travel Guide.
For passionate golfers, combining travel and golf is the ultimate dream. Getting to play at famous courses in beautiful destinations, with optimal weather conditions, luxurious accommodations, and fantastic amenities is the pinnacle of a golf vacation. From renowned courses in the United States to bucket-list destinations overseas, there are so many incredible places to experience as a travelling golfer. This guide covers some of the top golf destinations around the world and provides key tips for planning the golf trip of a lifetime.
Top U.S. Golf Destinations
The United States boasts some of the most revered golf courses and resorts found anywhere on the planet. Here are four premier U.S. golf destinations any golfer should consider for their next domestic golf vacation.
Pebble Beach, California
Along the magnificent rocky coastline of California’s Monterey Peninsula lies the iconic Pebble Beach Golf Links. Ranked as Golf Digest’s #1 public golf course in America, Pebble Beach is considered a “must play” for serious golfers. The breathtaking course hugs the rugged California coast with dramatic cliffs, crashing waves, and unforgettable ocean vistas on holes like the famous par-3 7th. In addition to Pebble Beach, the area features six other highly-ranked courses including Spyglass Hill and Spanish Bay. After golf, enjoy world-class lodging and dining at luxury resorts like The Lodge at Pebble Beach and Inn at Spanish Bay.
Pinehurst, North Carolina
In the Sandhills region of North Carolina lies the famed Pinehurst Resort, boasting eight championship golf courses including the iconic No. 2 course, site of more single golf championships than any other course in America. With its towering longleaf pine trees and strategic bunkering, Pinehurst No. 2 demands accuracy and shot-making excellence from golfers. Pinehurst also offers other activities like tennis, spa treatments, and a quaint downtown area with shops and restaurants. Nearby companion courses include Tobacco Road, Mid Pines, and Pine Needles.
Kiawah Island, South Carolina
Located just south of Charleston, South Carolina, Kiawah Island Golf Resort has five pristine courses, the most famous being the Ocean Course. Designed by Pete Dye, the Ocean Course challenges golfers with its seaside terrain and strong coastal winds. In 2012, it was the site of the epic Ryder Cup showdown known as the “Miracle at Medinah”. Off the course, Kiawah Island offers 10 miles of beaches, nature trails, water sports, and luxury accommodations. Nearby courses Ralston Creek and Old South are also highly ranked.
Bandon Dunes, Oregon
On Oregon’s rugged Pacific coast lies Bandon Dunes, true links golf at its finest. This remote golf haven includes four regulation courses: Bandon Dunes, Pacific Dunes, Bandon Trails, and Old Macdonald. The courses blend masterfully into the natural coastal landscape, with fairways winding through shore pines and huge dunes above the surf. Part of the allure of Bandon Dunes is its isolation, which fosters a true escape. Lodging options include The Lodge overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
Top International Golf Destinations
For golfers willing to travel overseas, experiencing golf in another country or continent can be the adventure of a lifetime. Here are four “bucket list” international golf destinations every passionate player should visit.
St Andrews, Scotland
The “Home of Golf”, no destination is more hallowed for golf’s traditions and history than St Andrews Links in eastern Scotland. Old Course at St Andrews is on every golfer’s bucket list, known for its double greens, pot bunkers, and infamous “Road Hole”. In addition to Old Course, St Andrews Links has six other courses open to visitors. Where else can you play where the game’s legends have trod for over 600 years? Nearby acclaimed courses include Carnoustie, Kingsbarns, and Castle Stuart.
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
At the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula lies Cabo San Lucas, a paradise for golfing in stunning desert and coastal settings. Top courses include Cabo del Sol, Cabo Real, Quivira, and Diamante’s Dunes Course. Most Cabo resorts offer stay-and-play packages. Away from the courses, enjoy Cabo’s beaches, nightlife, fishing, and other outdoor adventures. Nearby Puerto Los Cabos also offers great golf. March through June are ideal months for Cabo golf vacations.
Kauri Cliffs, New Zealand
Set on New Zealand’s North Island near the Cavalli Islands, Kauri Cliffs delivers spectacular coastal golf atop cliffs plunging down to the sea below. The par-72 championship course was designed by American golfer David Harman and offers breathtaking views from 15 holes overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Six sets of tees accommodate all playing abilities. After golf, enjoy Kauri Cliffs’ five-star lodging and amenities set among 6,000 acres of countryside. Nearby Bay of Islands is also great for fishing, sailing, hiking, and cultural experiences.
Cape Kidnappers, New Zealand
Perched on dramatic cliffs above the ocean, Cape Kidnappers Golf Course on New Zealand’s North Island is consistently ranked among the world’s greatest courses. Its unique landforms and native landscapes are unlike anywhere else, with fairways running along steep bluffs and ravines. The par-71 layout was designed by legendary golfer Tom Doak and features panoramic views of Hawke’s Bay. Off the course, visit nearby wineries, beaches, and Maori cultural sites. Luxury accommodations are available at The Farm at Cape Kidnappers.
What Makes a Top Golf Destination?
What sets the world’s best golf vacation destinations apart from the rest? Here are factors that contribute to an exceptional golf holiday.
Beautiful Courses and Scenery
Great golf courses are about more than just design and layout. They incorporate the surrounding natural scenery and landscapes into the experience. This could mean ocean cliffs, mountain backdrops, rolling green countryside, desert landscapes, or winding through lush forests. The best destinations offer stunning vistas and visuals to complement world-class course conditions.
Ideal Weather Conditions
Destinations with temperate, mild climates tend to be prime golf hotspots. Moderate year-round temperatures allow comfortable golf most days, along with vivid blue skies and ample sunshine to maximize visibility and playability. Popular golf destinations feature nice weather and minimal rain during peak golf travel seasons.
Quality Accommodations and Amenities
After a full day on the course, golfers want to relax and unwind in style. Top golf resorts and hotels go above and beyond with luxury accommodations and first-class amenities. These include gourmet dining options, full-service spas, swimming pools, and complimentary valet services. Some even offer golf instruction, club fittings, equipment rentals, and other golf-centric features for complete convenience.
Booking Your Golf Vacation
Planning an international or domestic golf trip requires consideration of key logistics to maximize enjoyment. Here are tips for organizing a seamless golf getaway.
Using a Golf Travel Specialist
For complex multi-destination golf vacations, consider enlisting a golf travel specialist to handle details like airfare, transfers, course bookings, etc. Companies like Golf Advisor Golf Vacations have experts designing completely customized golf packages and insider access to acclaimed courses worldwide. This allows golfers to focus simply on playing and enjoying their trip.
Renting Clubs vs Bringing Your Own
Most golf resorts offer premium club rentals so you don’t have to haul your own. But if you have customized fitting and complex specifications, bringing your personal clubs may be preferable. Consider golf travel insurance in case of loss/damage. Shipping clubs via luggage transfer services like Ship Sticks can also simplify logistics.
Best Times to Book for Savings
For the best rates on tee times, airfare, and lodging, book golf trips early, often 6 months to a year out. Last-minute bookings typically have higher costs. Popular destinations book up further in advance for peak seasons like spring/fall. Joining golf travel mailing lists can provide exclusive promotions and early booking access.
For Lessons and Practice in Idyllic Settings
Four Seasons Resort Hualalai Golf Hale: Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
This new cutting-edge facility with cutting-edge technology is ideal for beginners, experts, and everyone in between. The TrackMan indoor golf simulator provides detailed data to help you improve your swing. TrackMan Range provides interactive games and enjoyable practice for distance control. Additional tools such as “Foresight,” “Gears,” and “SAM Puttlab” are available to help you improve every aspect of your game. Hawaii’s first TopGolf® Swing Suite® combines practice and entertainment with the latest full swing simulator technology in a relaxed, modern lounge setting.
Put your skills to the test on the resort’s signature Jack Nicklaus course, which features lush fairways and oceanfront holes. Before retiring to your newly renovated guest room or suite, unwind on the beach, poolside, or with a sunset cocktail.
Greensboro, Georgia: The Kingdom at Reynolds Lake Oconee
Six championship courses, private lessons, and a variety of programs are available at the Kingdom to help every golfer improve. The “Energize” program offers two half-day workshops to help you revitalize your game, with instruction in the morning and golf in the afternoon. The “Tour Experience” includes morning lessons and nine-hole on-course instruction in the afternoon, while the “Scoring School” focuses on putting and the short game. TaylorMade club fitters provide one-on-one consultations to match your personal swing to the appropriate equipment, crafting your new custom club in the TaylorMade Tour Trailer on-site.
After a day of golf, relax and enjoy your surroundings in a guest room, suite, or cottage by the lake at the Ritz-Carlton Reynolds Lake Oconee.
With endless breathtaking destinations across the U.S. and worldwide, every passionate golfer should experience an iconic golf vacation. Combine world-class courses and service with beautiful scenery, pleasant weather, and five-star amenities for an unforgettable golf holiday. Use a travel specialist and book early to access deals and ensure ideal tee times. Whether it’s your first golf trip or a repeat visit to favorite spots, create lasting memories on the fairways at beloved courses across the globe.
The best places to start when researching top golf destinations are golf magazines, golf course ranking lists, and golf travel sites. Great sources for inspiration include Golf Digest’s course rankings, GOLF Magazine’s Premier Resorts lists, and Golf Advisor’s destination guides. Reach out to golf travel specialists as they have extensive knowledge of top courses and can help plan complete packages. Talk to friends who’ve taken memorable golf trips for their recommendations as well. With so many incredible options worldwide, reviews and expert advice can help narrow down the possibilities.
Phoenix and Scottsdale enjoy over 300 days of sunshine a year, making it a great year-round golf destination. But the optimal time to visit is spring or fall when daytime temperatures range from 65-85 degrees Fahrenheit. The spring months of March to May and fall months of October to December are most comfortable for playing golf. Summer sees extremely hot 100+ degree temps that may be uncomfortable for some. Winters are mild but mornings and evenings can get chilly. Booking in the shoulder seasons also means better prices and availability at resorts and courses.
For couples golfing in Ireland, the southwest including counties like Cork, Kerry and Clare generally offers more charm, scenery and variety than Dublin and the east. Southwest Ireland boasts world-class courses such as Ballybunion, Lahinch, Waterville and Old Head. The rugged Atlantic coastline provides unforgettable backdrops. The southwest also offers quaint seaside towns with pubs, restaurants and cultural attractions to complement the golf. Dublin does have excellent courses nearby like Portmarnock and The Island, but the southwest provides a more comprehensive couples golf trip.
Can you play America’s most expensive public courses for less?
Yes, there are ways to play famous public courses like Pebble Beach for less money:
- Book off-peak tee times in shoulder seasons for reduced rates
- Look for specials and packages at the course’s website
- Use golf travel agencies for bundled deals
- Book replay rounds late in the day for twilight pricing
- Consider staying at an affiliated hotel to get preferential tee times and pricing
- Avoid booking prime weekend slots – go for weekdays instead With savvy planning, you can experience the best courses for a fraction of peak pricing.