Five Golf Road Trips

Five Golf Road Trips

Spyglass Hill is just one of the great courses around Monteray
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The PGA Tour rides into the Motor City area this week for the Buick Open at Warick Hills, a tournament where either Tiger or Vijay seems to win every year and where either way, 20-under-par is on tap.

But to beat the scorching dog days of August, my advice, as stolen from the movie, “Animal House,” is … ROAD TRIP!

Toss your clubs in the trunk, crank up the A/C and fire up the Beach Boys because here are five of the best golf road trips around.

Monterey Peninsula, California
This is such a no-brainer, but the road part of this trip is every bit as good as the golf-almost. Heading south from San Francisco you first encounter enormous dunes around Sand City, which certainly makes sense. From there, cruise down State Rte. 1 and tackle the dune-laden layouts at Spyglass Hill and Spanish Bay. Both courses are special occasion must-plays, but if your heartbeat soars off the charts with sticker shock, check out the enormous sand ridges at Pacific Grove Municipal’s back nine, just outside the gates of 17-Mile Drive. You can walk it for less than $40 and can soak in all the ocean views you could ask for-plus play a par 4 that eases past the oldest working lighthouse on the west coast. It’ll cost you $8.50 to raise the guard gate at any of the four entrances to 17-Mile Drive, but for the glimpses of Pebble Beach and Cypress Point alone, it’s the worth every penny to golf groupies.

Sedona, Arizona
Yes, this central Arizona town attracts its share of loopy denizens and spiritual seekers hoping to stumble into a vortex, experience a harmonic convergence or Feng-Shui their crystal collections, but it’s undeniable that even jaded traveling golfers are overwhelmed by the high-desert, red-rock canvas that is Sedona. Travel north from Phoenix on I-17 to State Rte. 179 and take it to Sedona. Ten minutes off the highway, prepare to be amazed by colors and shapes you likely have never seen. Top off the trip with rounds at Sedona Golf Resort, a Gary Panks track that boasts the unforgettable 210-yard, par-3 10th, with its red-rock backdrop and at Oakcreek Country Club, a late ’60s-early 70s collaboration between Robert Trent Jones Sr. and Jr.

New England’s 4-7-9 Trifecta
Leaf-peepers, covered-bridge fans and golfers in search of pure Yankee charm need look no further than U.S. Highways 4 and 7 that head East/West and North/South, respectively, through Vermont and State Rte. 9, an East/West thoroughfare that whisks you across the New Hampshire border to Keene. Ivy Leaguers know Highway 4 for its Hanover, New Hampshire connection (Dartmouth College), but it also curves through Woodstock, one of Vermont’s most bucolic hamlets and home to the stream-dappled Robert Trent Jones Sr. course at the Woodstock Inn. At Rutland, turn left onto Hwy 7 and head straight for The Equinox in Manchester Village. Nearly 15 years ago, Rees Jones remade the 1926 Walter Travis layout and today, it’s a scenic, playable New England original, with elevated greens and white church steeples rising out of the forest. From there, head south to Bennington, then east through Battleboro before crossing into New Hampshire. Nearby in Keene, are two terrific values, the North and South courses at Bretwood Country Club.

Charleston, South Carolina
No matter where you turn the wheel in this celebrated Southern city, you’re going to run into avenues of gnarled oaks dripping with Spanish moss or wetlands and coastal rivers edged with golden marsh grasses. The pastel hues and historic buildings of downtown Charleston are worth a side trip, but serious golfers should race to U.S. Highway 17, then head east on Main Road, through canopies of oaks and continue on to Kiawah Island. The recently refurbished Turtle Point is a Jack Nicklaus design that touches the Atlantic on the back nine. But make time to romp around the Ocean Course, Pete Dye’s seaside masterpiece that played host to the 1991 “War by the Shore” Ryder Cup and which will host the 2007 Senior PGA Championship and the 2012 PGA Championship.

Vail, Colorado
Interstates seldom offer the kind of guidebook-ready scenery that would be worth a detour, but I-70 west of Denver is an eye-popping exception. Once your vehicle survives the 12,000-foot rigor of the Eisenhower Memorial Tunnel near Silverthorne, a bevy of superb courses await, each with killer views of the Rockies. Best post-tunnel bets are the Ranch and River courses at Keystone Resort, the three Cordillera courses in Edwards and the Norman and Fazio courses at Red Sky in Wolcott.

Joe Passov is the Architecture and Course Ratings Editor of GOLF MAGAZINE. E-mail him your questions and thoughts at [email protected]