Summer’s over, but don’t fret. Our five-part Ultimate Fall Golf Travel Planner will help you find the perfect destination for you and your crew. Up next, our endless summer plan. (What you missed: buddies and bargains.)
If Jack Frost nipping at your nose sounds appealing, head somewhere else. If you’re looking to soak up the sun for a full 18, here are three spots guaranteed to shine.
Florida’s First Coast of Golf
It’s an itch that’s gotta be scratched. At least once in your golfing life, you absolutely must make the pilgrimage to the greater Jacksonville area, and the town of Ponte Vedra Beach. That’s where golf’s ultimate gut-check resides: the par-3 17th hole at the Players Stadium course at TPC Sawgrass. As soon as you confirm your tee time, you start grinning—and your stomach starts churning—at the prospect of tackling the island green. Make no mistake, however—there’s an abundance of other attractions to vie for your attention, from public-access Donald Ross designs to serious American history at the World Golf Hall of Fame, as well as five-star lodging and secluded beaches.
Northeast Florida was the site of America’s first settlements, thus earning its nickname, “The First Coast.” Speaking of firsts, the region nearly hosted the 1939 Ryder Cup, at the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club’s Ocean course—which features one of the game’s earliest island greens, at the par-3 ninth—but World War II intervened and the event was cancelled. It would have been the first Ryder Cup in the Southeast. The region’s promotional arm, Florida’s First Coast of Golf, features an array of packages to help you experience everything in the area, including TPC Sawgrass, with every budget covered. Go scratch that itch. florida-golf.org
South Carolina Tourism
Home to Myrtle Beach, the supermarket of golf, South Carolina is the state where America takes its golf vacations. Toss in seaside courses and Ryder Cup history in Charleston, and the candy cane–striped lighthouse and PGA Tour heritage at Hilton Head’s Harbour Town, and you have one of the nation’s most golf-rich environments.
But the golf enticements don’t end there. Santee is one of the hidden jewels in the Southeast for affordable golf. Greenville/Spartanburg hosts the Web.com Tour every year, and there’s even mountain golf in the northwest corner. Whether you’re riding the rides at Broadway at the Beach in Myrtle Beach, swinging the swings at Wild Dunes’ oceanside closing holes near Charleston, or beachcombing the beaches in Hilton Head, you can bask in October sunshine. discoversouthcarolina.com
Strength and fortitude have defined the slippery reptile for centuries, and those traits will prove handy when tackling the stable of testing courses on Salamander properties. Most prominent is Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor, on Florida’s west coast. It rolls out four championship tracks, the North, South, Island and Copperhead, the latter of which is home to the Valspar Championship. But the Island shouldn’t be overlooked. It sports more water than Copperhead and hosted the 1990 NCAA Championship (and winner Phil Mickelson).
Reunion Resort, outside of Orlando, features a trio of outstanding if tough tracks from Hall of Fame players/architects Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson. Up north, on the Atlantic in Palm Coast, Hammock Beach Resort serves up the Jack Nicklaus–designed Ocean course, which hosted the 2003 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links, and the long, sand-splashed Conservatory course, a Watson creation. As with Innisbrook and Reunion, Hammock Beach excels at group accommodations, from families to buddies. And with more than a dozen golf packages available across the three resorts, you can’t afford to stay home. salamanderhotels.com