When the film Tommy’s Honour opened in April, it shined a light on golf’s most iconic father-son team, Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris. Since that duo’s 19th-century heyday, countless fathers have nudged their sons and daughters to golf greatness. So forget about a greeting card this year. Nothing says “Happy Father’s Day” like the pleasures of a buddy trip. And these three golf destinations are ultimate memory-makers.
1. COOPERSTOWN, N.Y.
Stay: The stately Otesaga Resort Hotel is Cooperstown’s second-most famous landmark. Mere steps from town and a ball toss away from the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, the Otesaga is like a journey back in time—with modern amenities. Highlights include the new Hawkeye Spa and a handful of eateries overlooking Otsego Lake. (June room rates from $259, with golf and baseball packages available)
Play: The Otesaga’s Leatherstocking Golf Course is a 1909 Devereux Emmet design that wends through countryside along Otsego Lake’s western shoreline. Measuring a Golden Age 6,401 yards from the tips, Leatherstocking (named for native son James Fenimore Cooper’s series of novels) keeps today’s bombers on their toes with its slender fairways and imaginatively contoured greens. Best known for creating Top 100 staples Congressional and Garden City, Emmet gifted Leatherstocking with two superb and potentially wet finishing holes: The 182-yard, par-3 17th demands a healthy carry over water, and the 515-yard, par-5 18th starts from an island tee. ($60–$130)
Foray: If there’s one sport that treasures its history as much as golf, it’s baseball. For a total immersion into the legends and lore of America’s summer pastime, the Hall of Fame is the place to do it. From Babe Ruth’s induction plaque to the uniform Hank Aaron wore when he broke the Bambino’s career home run record, the Hall has it all. This year’s class of inductees—Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and “Pudge” Rodríguez—will be honored the weekend of July 28–31. ($12–$23)[gallery:13837629]
2. BANDON, OREGON
Stay: The low-key accommodations and amenities at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort are more practical than plush (the buddy-trippers who come here definitely prefer flat screens to fluffy bathrobes). But the variety of lodging options enhance one of golf’s greatest bonding experiences. Tuck in close to the main clubhouse at the Inn or the Lodge and you’ll have one kind of adventure. Bunk in the more atmospheric and woodsy Grove Cottages, Lily Pond or Chrome Lake lodgings, and you’ll have another. Whatever your choice, a remarkably efficient shuttle service gets you around the 2,400-acre resort with minimum fuss. (June room rates from $210)
Play: The resort’s four full 18s—Bandon Dunes, Pacific Dunes, Bandon Trails and Old Macdonald—are ranked in the top 15 of our Top 100 Courses You Can Play list. Almost as fun as playing them? Debating which is best. Toss in the caddie experience, a divine Coore-Crenshaw–designed par-3 course called Bandon Preserve and a Himalayan putting green called The Punchbowl, and the experience is unbeatable. The remote location, occasionally wacky weather and walking-only policy are pluses for some, drawbacks for others. For true purists, however, Bandon Dunes is the ultimate American golf trip. ($100–$295, not including caddie)
Foray: At day’s end, most visitors to Bandon are so blissfully whipped by the oceanfront weather and the 36-hole walk (two loops per day is typical) that a good meal, a cocktail and a cigar—and perhaps a game of billiards or cards—are all the extracurriculars you’ll need. The resort checks each of those boxes, and more. McKee’s Pub is the liveliest dining and drinking option. Other choices include the upscale Pacific Grill, the always-humming Tufted Puffin and the boozy, night-capping Bunker Bar. If walking 36 a day and hoisting a few isn’t workout enough for you, Bandon offers a fitness room and hiking trails. Good luck with that.
3. CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO
Stay: Pueblo Bonito Pacifica Golf & Spa Resort is your gateway to one of golf’s wildest rides: Next door is the Jack Nicklaus–designed Quivira Golf Club. One of three distinctive Pueblo Bonito properties in the area, the aptly named Pacifica is a beachfront nirvana replete with seaside pools and dining, spectacular sunsets and an award-winning spa. (June room rates, from $512, are all-inclusive: food, beverage, taxes and gratuities)
Play: If you crave thrilling scenery and raw excitement in a round of golf, Quivira has no peer. Amid dunes and mountains, the Golden Bear carved a succession of calendar-worthy holes, with no fewer than 10 edging the beachside cliff tops. A few goofy twists aside, this track is unforgettable. There’s nothing like the cart ride from the fourth green to the fifth tee—after crossing arroyos, you climb some 200 feet up a mountain flank to the par 4, the Pacific roiling below. ($227–$315; quiviragolfclub.com)
Foray: Three decades before championship golf arrived in Cabo, Nicklaus would come here for deep-sea fishing. “I’d show up with shorts, flip-flops and about 15 bucks and have a great time,” he told me of his early-’60s adventures. These days, it costs a few more pesos than it used to, but the fishing is still superb. Reel in striped marlin, yellowfin tuna and Pacific bonito. (Half-day excursions start at $300, full-day trips at $450, depending on boat size and the number of anglers.)