For some folks, a golf trip is more about the quality of the experience than the quantity of the rounds, searching out those once-in-a-lifetime trips that usually have a price tag to match. These four experiences are as good as life gets for golfers who want to enjoy the journey as much as the game.
Riviera Golf Cruise by Kalos Tours
With its ivory-white hull, rich mahogany-and-teak construction and brass appointments, the 360-foot Sea Cloud oozes Old World luxury. The four-masted yacht was a wedding gift from financier E.F. Hutton to his bride, heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post, in 1931. Be thankful for re-gifting!
Golfers will enjoy rounds at Royal Mougins and Monte Carlo Golf Club, plus off-the-beaten-waterway layouts such as Pevero and Sperone, a pair of Robert Trent Jones Sr. beauties that overlook the Mediterranean Sea. Guest hosts include Rees Jones, Peggy Kirk Bell and Deane Beman. Non-golfers can look forward to sightseeing in Monte Carlo, Sardinia, Portofino and Rome. At night the ambiance is akin to a floating country club.
• 919-942-3464, kalosgolf.com; rates from $6,375 per person.
Sloat Suite, the Lodge at Pebble Beach
The Sloat Suite is like being courtside at Wimbledon: it overlooks the 18th hole at Pebble Beach and the Pacific Ocean. Does it get much better for golfers? There are pricier quarters at Pebble Beach Resorts, including three suites at the Inn at Spanish Bay and one at Casa Palmero, but this is the most unforgettable. The deluxe one-bedroom suite sports a separate parlor with sitting area, deep-soaking whirlpool tub and an entertainment system, but you're really paying for the view. Signature spa treatments, golf, the Tap Room and Club XIX are all extra, but with this panorama, you might be reluctant to do anything but order room service.
• 800-654-9300, pebblebeach.com; rates from $2,125 per person per night.
Royal Scotsman Links Rail Journey, PerryGolf
Traveling by train conjures up images of classic luxury trips from the nineteenth century, and the Royal Scotsman rolls the rails in unparalleled style. PerryGolf offers a six-day Scottish Highlands adventure with four days aboard the Royal Scotsman. Among the links courses you'll play are Royal Dornoch (one of the world's Top 20), Nairn and Cruden Bay. Donald Ross cut his design teeth at Dornoch, with its superb sea views, plateau greens and brilliant yellow gorse bushes, but Nairn's perfect putting surfaces and Cruden Bay's quirky charms are ideal complements. Castle visits, distillery tours, falconry displays and cashmere shopping excursions highlight the non-golf offerings. On board you'll find Edwardian appointments, outstanding food, mahogany-outfitted rooms and panoramic viewing windows all with a maximum of 36 passengers.
• 800-344-5257, perrygolf.com; rates for golfers from $7,795, based on double occupancy.
Heli-Golf in Ireland, Carr Golf & Corporate Travel
Ballybunion, Portmarnock, Royal County Down and Old Head are among the most magical names in the game, but it's near-impossible to see all of these tracks if you're navigating the narrow lanes of the Irish countryside. So Dublin-based Carr Golf has joined forces with Links Helicopters Ltd. to tackle the thorniest problem on an Irish golf holiday other than the weather: getting around. Links Helicopters flies up to six golfers plus golf clubs to every major course in the country, in a fraction of the time it takes to drive. For example, driving from Portmarnock to Lahinch takes more than four hours by car, but by chopper it's 65 minutes.
011353-1-8226662, carrgolf.com; rates start at 1,600 euros per hour of flying time.