For this ongoing Gold series, we asked our well-traveled Gold Insiders to make the case for a hidden gem that they have discovered on their journeys: an under-the-radar course or golf experience that deserves more pub. Played a diamond in the rough of your own? Tell us about it in the comments section below.
ST. LEON-ROT GOLF CLUB
Rot course -- Par: 72, Yardage: 6,587
St. Leon course -- Par: 72, Yardage: 6,541
"This facility is an absolute gem consisting of two courses (St. Leon and Rot), both of which have hosted European tour events; the club also was the site for this year’s Solheim Cup. I've only played the Rot (pronounced rote, meaning red) but it was a beautiful, challenging test. Particularly memorable are the deep fairway bunkers on the 10th as well as what amounts to an island fairway on the 7th. If you need to tune up your game, the course also has extensive practice facilities. A visit here could easily be fit in to a normal sightseeing trip as the historic towns of Heidelberg and Speyer (one of the oldest cities in Germany) are close by. Just across the Rhine, in the Pfalz, is one of Germany’s main wine growing regions, where you can do tastings for reasonable prices or just take a drive down the scenic German Wine Route (Deutsche Weinstrasse) at the base of the Palatinate Forest. If you'd like to get in a bit more golf in the area, look for the Golfclub Deutsche Weinstrasse in Dackenheim. While not particularly challenging, the course is laid out among vineyards and is breathtakingly beautiful. A miscue here and you'll be climbing through the vines to find your ball." -- Jess Wilder, Memphis, Tenn.
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HAMMOCK BEACH RESORT
PALM COAST, FLA.
Ocean Course -- Par: 72, Yardage: 7,201
Conservatory Course -- Par: 72, Yardage: 7,776
From $185/night, including golf
"Our group is comprised of 10-and-under handicaps and we have played all over the map -- and this was one of the best buddies’ trips I have ever taken. Both courses were in great shape and challenging, and the Ocean Course -- a Jack Nicklaus design -- has six holes on the water. In the morning, you walk right out and you are at the course with clubs waiting for you. The property has a pool/hot tub/workout facility that’s unbelievable, great for working out the kinks in the morning. The three-bedroom suite was great for the larger group. They had a stay-and-play package with room, unlimited golf, and the best breakfast you will ever have -- all for about $750 a guy for a four-night stay with five days of playing. Loved it." -- Charles R Dickerson, Bella Vista, Ark.
SAND HILLS GOLF CLUB
Par: 71, Yardage: 7,089
"All right, so it’s not an 'unknown' golf experience per se, but Sand Hills is out of this world. If you are lucky enough to go, never turn it down. You might think, Gee, middle of nowhere Nebraska -- no thanks. But it’s truly exceptional. The customer service is incredible and you have the sense any request can be honored. The cabins are plain but extremely comfortable with the best water pressure you've ever had in a shower. The restaurant caters to any request you want with world-class food. Obviously the golf itself is incredible but the surrounding atmosphere really helps: no car noise, no planes, nothing but golf. The expectation is at least 36 in a day with a lunch stop at Ben’s Porch, a one-room kitchen with a porch overlooking the course. It serves one of the best burgers in golf." -- Anonymous