Since 1969, restaurant, hotel, travel & other witty reviews by a handpicked, worldwide team of discerning professionals—and your views, too.



Top 10 Golf Resorts 2005

These days, it seems you can’t swing a five iron without hitting a celeb-designed golf course at some swanky resort. This is good news for the tee set, who now have more choices than ever when it’s time to go on holiday. Do you want your course designed by Fazio, Norman or Nicklaus? Would you prefer a Balinese resort or Uruguayan estate setting? While we had fun with geographical diversity when putting this list together, we couldn’t resist throwing in a few classics, as well. Whether you’re a stickler for tradition or enjoy the barefoot casual lifestyle, you’ll be inspired to pack up your clubs and head for the fairways.

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UNITED STATES

Kohala Coast
Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows

www.maunalani.com

Fairways rolling over ancient lava beds. A 17th hole incorporated into a natural lava amphitheater. There’s no arguing that the two championship courses at the Mauna Lani are among the most dramatic in the world. The resort’s original course was split in two, and nine new holes were added to each side. The North Course is now edged by a protected archaeological area, and the South Course winds through the prehistoric Kaniku lava flow. No matter which one you play, feel free to pray to Pele for that hole in one. As for off-the-course pursuits, you can hang out in your private bungalow, check out the legendary ponds, enjoy a spa treatment or learn how to hula dance.

Pebble Beach
The Lodge at Pebble Beach

www.pebblebeach.com

Pebble Beach and golf. Is it possible to disassociate the two? In fact, we feel you could say Pebble Beach is golf. It’s more than just a great golf destination. It’s like its own small golf nation. Pebble Beach Resorts is made up of four courses and three accommodations, but we’d like to focus on the historic Lodge—with its wonderful Stillwater Bar & Grill and beautiful Carmel Bay views—and Pebble Beach Links. Hemmed by forest and ocean, this classic golf course dates back to 1919, competing for granddaddy on our list with Gleneagles. Technically, it’s a public course, but when you stay at the lodge you enjoy special booking privileges and tee times.

Scottsdale
The Boulders, A Waldorf Astoria Resort

Despite the twelve-million-year-old boulders that give this property its name, you won’t find any Flintstones’ kitsch here. The Boulders is truly elegant, and its pair of 18-hole championship golf courses capitalize on the gracious serenity of the high Sonoran desert setting. Designed by Jay Morrish, layouts take full advantage of the natural terrain. They alternate so that one is always private and the other always available for hotel guest use. Desert elements are equally essential off the greens. You’ll find plenty of cacti and even a few coyotes along with the adobe casitas and Golden Door Spa offering Native American therapies.

Sea Island
The Lodge at Sea Island

www.seaisland.com

If you love tradition—from timeless Southern hospitality to English country manor decor—this destination off the coast of Georgia will make you very happy. The three championship courses, ranging over a beautiful lowcountry landscape, feature fairways by Tom Fazio, Rees Jones and Davis Love III. Redesigned by Fazio, the Seaside Course makes excellent use of the setting with elevated tee boxes overlooking ancient oaks, salt marshes and sand dunes. The lodge’s forty accommodations sit above the clubhouse with views of the Atlantic or Plantation Course. A romantic touch: the bagpiper poised on a distant fairway bringing each day to a close.

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DOMINICAN

La Romana
Casa de Campo

www.casadecampo.com.do

Sure, we could have played it safe and selected a resort on Barbados or Bermuda, but we like the off-the-beaten-path aspect of this property. Plus, we’re into its island-casual style. The three Pete Dye-designed courses include the acclaimed Teeth of the Dog. Seven of the holes sit right on the Caribbean Sea, and if that isn’t challenge enough, there’s a tricky dogleg to keep you on your toes. Don’t be intimidated, though. Caddies can advise you on the terrain. Another great thing about this resort is its family friendly atmosphere. Whether you want to get the little ones started on their strokes or just have access to a great kids’ program while you play (lizard hunts are particularly popular), this is a terrific choice.

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FRANCE

Saint-Laurent-Nouan
Les Bordes

www.lesbordes.com

With all the hoopla over France and not Scotland being the birthplace of golf—gasp!—the world is sitting up and paying attention to the French golf scene. This resort is particularly notable because its excellent Woodland Golf Course is flanked by traditional Loire Valley cottages and farm buildings that have been renovated into beautifully rustic accommodations. This former hunting estate was conceived by industrialist Baron Marcel Bich (bic pens) and businessman Yoshiaki Sakurai, whose goal was simply to create a superb golf retreat. Just an hour and a half from Paris, the fairways are surrounded by ancient forest (hence, the club’s name). Water features on twelve of the eighteen holes make sure golfers never run out of challenges.

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INDONESIA

Kediri
Le Meridien Nirwana Golf & Spa Resort Bali

www.lemeridien.com

As the only hotel on Bali with its own golf course, this property clearly has an advantage. The resort incorporates the Nirwana Bali Golf Club, with its 18-hole, Greg Norman-designed golf course. From an aesthetic point of view, the best thing about the fairways are their use of rice paddies, which aren’t just for show. Local villagers farm these plots, adding to the unique beauty of the surroundings. The hotel itself offers an elegant modern interpretation of Balinese style. The oceanfront location overlooking Tanah Lot sea temple completes the romantic atmosphere.

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SCOTLAND

Freepost
Gleneagles

www.gleneagles.com

With so many outstanding golf courses in Scotland, this was a tough pick. St. Andrew’s Old Course is a golfer’s paradise, but fundamentally it’s a public course with nice hotels nearby. For this list, we wanted the whole package, and Gleneagles was a natural choice. You also get a nice dose of Scottish history, as the hotel was built in French château style by the Caledonian Railway Company in 1924—it even had its own railway station. Opened in 1919, the King’s Course is a venerable favorite, and the Queen’s Course is popular for its natural beauty. But the real gem here is the 1993 Jack Nicklaus-designed PGA Centenary Course. Host to the G8 Summit in July 2005 and 40th Ryder Cup in 2014, it is destined to become a classic.

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SOUTH AFRICA

George
Fancourt Hotel & Country Club Estate

www.fancourt.co.za

This resort unites historic lodgings with a relatively new set of courses. The estate is anchored by a Cotswold Manor-style country house built in the mid-1800s at the foot of the Outeniqua Mountains. The property was transformed into a golf resort in 1989 and now features four courses, including two that are open to club members and hotel guests only. With their parkland layouts, both the Montague and Outeniqua were designed by Gary Player. In contrast, The Links offers a dune-style landscape, as well as a mix of Kentucky Blue, Rye, Fescue and Bent grasses on its tees and fairways.

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URUGUAY

Carmelo

Four Seasons Golf Club Carmelo

www.fourseasons.com

Leave it to the Four Seasons to bring a great golf resort to the unspoiled Uruguayan wilderness. This countryside retreat on the banks of the Rio de la Plata boasts an 18-hole course that blends pampa grass, lakes, wetland and native trees with excellent bent-grass putting surfaces, hybrid Bermuda fairways and white sand bunkers. While playing you’re sure to see lots of birds, and you may even catch a glimpse of a wild horse or two. With just 24 suites and twenty bungalows, all decorated with stylish local accents, there’s a nice feeling of intimacy.

(Updated: 12/06/11 CT)


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