36 Reasons to Love Golf Now -- plus 10 bonus items!

Bandon Dunes
Brian Walers Photography
Bandon Dunes.

No. 27: BANDON DUNES

There’s a truism that savvy travelers hold dear: The accessibility of a resort is inversely proportional to its quality. Resorts that are close to downtown—take Doral Resort in Miami—frequently offer courses that make golfers wish they’d ventured farther afield. It’s only fair, then, that those who trek to Bandon Dunes on the remote southwest coast of Oregon get their just reward.

Golfers travel to Bandon for on-course thrills, not off-course frills. The rooms are comfortable if spartan. The food is unspectacular. But the golf? It’s a Bacchanalian feast. Pacific Dunes is the top-ranked public-access course in America, beating Pebble Beach by a mile, while the other three layouts—Bandon Dunes, Bandon Trails and Old Macdonald—rank in the top 15 in Golf Magazine’s Top 100 You Can Play.

The resort’s newest addition, Bandon Preserve, opened in May. It’s a 13-hole par-3 course best enjoyed with buddies, beers and bets.

And that’s the essence of Bandon: the intersection of engaging design, quirky bounces, wild weather, good friends and undiluted fun. This resort isn’t close to anywhere, but it’s as much enjoyment as golfers can find this side of Ballybunion.–Eamon Lynch

No. 26: KEVIN NA IS ONE OF US
He’s slow, like us. He gets yippy, like us. He makes the odd double-snowman (the 2011 Texas Open). In other words, Kevin Na suffers, making him a rarity: a Tour winner we can relate to.

No. 25: OLD SWEATERS NEVER DIE
Your old cardigan? It’s baa-aaack. Drag it out of the attic and wear it with the right shirt, says Rebecca Frey, a stylist and owner of Seek New York (seeknewyorkllc.com). “The trick is to pair your shirt with the nonprimary color of your sweater. Got a brown sweater with blue diamonds? Choose a shirt with navy stripes. If your argyle is gray with yellow diamonds, wear a shirt with yellow in the print. Golfers are creative with their shots. Why not be creative with your clothes, too?”

No. 24: MY PRO TO GO WILL CHANGE THE WAY YOU IMPROVE
Now you can get a customized lesson from a top pro no matter where you are. To learn how, visit the website.

No. 23: NATALIE GULBIS
Her 2012 fashion choices have turned more heads than a chiropractor.

No. 22: EVEN THE SHOES ARE HIGH-TECH
Freddie started a trend when he slipped on a pair of street-style Eccos at the 2010 Masters. Today, numerous shoemakers offer a tennis/golf-shoe hybrid. Even Tiger is wearing them. Many new Ecco models (above) feature a technology called “pre-molded traction bars,” which provides great stability and comfort on the course, not to mention a casual look off the course. Nike says that its TW ’13 has a “dynamic fit that extends from footbed to eyelets for 360 degrees of adaptive lockeddown fit.” Our takeaway? Eighteen holes may still be tough on your head, but it’s never been easier on your feet.

No. 21: THE FAB FORE
True, when the Golf Boys crooned, “Tweet tweet, I want my birdies all day long” in their debut video, they made the Monkees sound like Mozart. But we tip our visor to Rickie Fowler, Ben Crane, Hunter Mahan and Bubba Watson. This faux boy band not only raised money for charity, they did what Tour stars rarely do: Had fun and connected with fans. We await your next hit single, lads. (Suggested titles: “Norwegian 3-Wood,” “When I Shoot 64,” “Baby, You Can Drive My Cart.”)

No. 20: YOU CAN PLAY THE “OTHER PEBBLE” FOR $46
After a ho-hum start, Pacific Grove’s back nine ushers you to the British Isles, with inventive seaside holes traversing towering sand hills. The views are Pebblecaliber, but at a 90 percent discount. ($25-$46; 831-648-5775, pggolflinks.com)

No. 19: JASON DUFNER HAS PERFECTED THE WAGGLE
“Before I started golf, I played a lot of baseball, and when I was in the batter’s box I moved the bat a lot while waiting for a pitch. At address in golf, I still like the feeling of movement, which seems more natural than being static. I’m consistent—seven, eight or nine waggles per shot—but I don’t think about that. I just look at the target and envision my shot. The waggle also helps me stay loose and appear calm. Inside there’s more going on, but outwardly I look oblivious to the situation. It’s not something I practice. When I’m out there, I’m not trying to look cool. I’m trying to win a tournament.”
—Two-time Tour winner Jason Dufner

No. 18: THERE'S AN UPSIDE TO THE DOWN ECONOMY
The economic downturn has opened once-locked private-club doors. Seven Canyons, a Tom Weiskopf design in Sedona, Ariz., couples a creative layout with stunning visuals, like its massive amphitheaters of red rocks. The club formerly charged a cool $175,000 for a membership, but you can play it today for as little as $50. ($50-$125; 928-203-2001, sevencanyons.com)

No. 17: GAMBLING IS GOOD FOR YOU
Rising PGA Tour star Colt Knost on how betting makes you better:
“Playing for money is a big reason why I got where I am. My family had a membership at a club, and by 16 I got into money games with members. I played every weekend. It was $5 per hole, which seemed like a lot. It teaches you something about handling pressure to play with your own money, especially when you don’t have much. Even today, when I’m at Royal Oaks (Dallas) Country Club, I play guys from scratch to 15-handicaps. I enjoy the action. We play team games. ‘Hammer’ is like ‘Wolf,’ but you can ‘hammer’ at any point during the hole to double the bet. Action makes things fun and gets the blood flowing, so you can feel what it’s like to putt when you’re nervous.”

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