The American Club Kohler, Wisc.
Medal History: Gold medalist since 1992
The golf and the facilities–yes, those facilities. Kohler’s famed bathroom fixtures–like the Whirlpool Bath–are standard issue here. You’ll need that luxurious soak after battling the resort’s Straits Course at Whistling Straits (No. 28 on our Top 100 Courses in the U.S.), which hosted the 2004 PGA Championship.
Contact: 800-344-2838, destinationkohler.com
Bandon Dunes Golf Resort Bandon, Ore.
Medal History: Debuted as a Gold medalist in 2002
Why It’s Worth It: Bandon Dunes is about golf the way Scotland is–in fact, you’d swear you were there if it wasn’t for the good showers. It’s the only resort where you can play three of GOLF MAGAZINE’s Top 100 Courses in the U.S.: Pacific Dunes (No. 8), Bandon Dunes (No. 40) and Bandon Trails (No.47)
Contact: 888-345-6008, bandondunes.com
The Boulders Resort & Golden Door Spa Carefree, Ariz.
Medal History: One of only five resorts to win Gold in each GOLF MAGAZINE ranking
Why It’s Worth It: Carefree isn’t just the hometown of the Boulders–it’s an attitude that’s reinforced at the Golden Door Spa, a Sonoran Shangri-la. Use it to recharge your batteries after a round at the two outstanding Jay Morrish-designed courses that hopscotch over arroyos and around cactuses, or to entertain your spouse while you play.
Contact: 866-397-6520, theboulders.com
The Broadmoor Colorado Springs, Colo.
Medal History: Gold in all 10 rankings since 1988
Why It’s Worth It: A new jack Nicklaus course opens this year, bringing a neat symmetry to the Bear’s history at the Broadmoor, where he won the U.S. Amateur in 1959. You’ll find a storied roster of former guests (from presidents to Bob Hope) and 11 restaurants.
Contact: 866-837-9520, thebroadmoor.com
Coeur d’Alene Resort Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
Medal History: Longtime Silver medalist, elevated to Gold in 2000
Why It’s Worth It: Golfers are ferried from the resort to the course via mahogany water taxi, and it’s another short boat ride to the most famous hole here, the floating green at No. 14.
Contact: 800-688-5253, cdaresort.com
Four Seasons Resort Aviara Carlsbad, Calif.
Medal History: Moved from Silver to Gold in 2004
Why It’s Worth It: This Southern California hilltop retreat has just added the MATT System–that’s Motion Analysis technology by TaylorMade. Get club-fitted like the pros then test your new knowledge on the watery Arnold Palmer course, which tiptoes around a lagoon.
Contact: 800-819-5053, fourseasons.com/aviara
Four Seasons Resort Hualalai Ka’upulehu-Kona, Hawaii
Medal History: Debuted as a Gold in 2000
Why It’s Worth It: Every room sports ocean views in the shadow of the Hualalai volcano. (Don’t worry, the volcano hasn’t popped for nearly 205 years.) The Nicklaus-designed course cuts through black lava before a grand finale alongside the ocean.
Contact: 800-819-5053, fourseasons.com/hualalai
Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay Lanai, Hawaii
Medal History: Seven consecutive Gold awards
Why It’s Worth It: This was a longtime Gold medalist even before the Four Seasons brand took over last year. the result is a ramping up in service and amenities. The Nicklaus course doesn’t need much work–the cliff-top setting is so dramatic that Bill Gates chose to get married on the tee at No. 12.
Contact: 800-819-5053, fourseasons.com/manelebay
Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North Scottsdale, Ariz.
Medal History: Debuted Gold in 2002
Why It’s Worth It: You can’t get any closer to the Sonoran Desert this side of a tent and sleeping bag. Both courses here are on our Top 100 Courses You Can Play: the Monument (No. 21) and Pinnacle (No. 64) tracks.
Contact: 800-332-3442, fourseasons.com/scottsdale
Grand Wailea Resort
Medal History: Elevated to Gold in 2000, Silver prior
Why It’s Worth It: The Gold, Blue and Emerald courses are the jewels here, but the real bauble for guests is the Spa Grande, where you can get massaged and scrubbed with everything from seaweed to sea shells.
Contact: 800-888-6100, grandwailea.com
The Greenbrier White Sulphur Springs, W.V.
Medal History: Gold since 1988
Why It’s Worth It: You’ll feel like landed gentry at leisure here with amenities like falconry, skeet shooting and off-road driving. The Greenbrier course hosted the 1979 Ryder Cup and Old White course, designed by C.B. Macdonald, is nearing the end of a major restoration. Sam Snead made his final ace here on the par-3 18th hole in 1995.
Contact: 800-888-6100, greenbrier.com
The Homestead Hot Springs, Va.
Medal History: Only once, in 2000, has the resort been less than Gold standard
Why It’s Worth It: The resort is celebrating its 240th birthday by restoring the superb Cascades course–No. 56 on GOLF MAGAZINE‘s Top 100 Courses in the U.S.–to its original 1923 design by William Flynn, who also designed Shinnecock Hills. The Cascades reopens in May.
Contact: 800-838-1766, thehomestead.com
Inn & Links at Spanish Bay Pebble Beach, Calif.
Medal History: Medalist since 1988; this is its fifth Gold medal
Why It’s Worth It: A standout new restaurant has elevated Spanish Bay to equal status with its sister property, the Lodge at Pebble Beach. The homemade pasta at Peppoli is matched only by the Pacific views. You can feast on the golf, too. The links offers a stirring prep for the other courses to which you have access, Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill.
Contact: 800-654-9300, pebblebeach.com
Kauai Marriott Resort & Beach Club Kauai, Hawaii
Medal History: Solid Gold since 1998
Why It’s Worth It: The golf here shows the first stirrings of the Bear–two early Nicklaus designs that can maul you, most notably the Kiele layout, which is No. 78 on our Top 100 Courses You Can Play. But rest easy, the pillows on the beds feature more feathers than a Purdue chicken farm.
Contact: 800-220-2925, marriott.com
Kiawah Island Golf Resort Kiawah Island, S.C.
Medal History: After eight Silvers Kiawah gets its Gold
Why It’s Worth It: No property storms this year’s Gold Medal podium with more force than Kiawah, which in 2005 opened the South’s finest new hotel, the Sanctuary at kiawah Island. Now, the resort has the luxury accommodations to match its Gold Medal golf, most notably Pete Dye’s Ocean Course, the 19991 Ryder Cup venue. Sweeping staircases off the lobby suggest a Gone With the Wind elegance but the comfort level is pure Southern charm.
Contact: 800-576-1570, kiawahresort.com
Lake Las Vegas Resort Henderson, Nev.
Medal History: Moves from Silver in 2004 to Gold
Why It’s Worth It: This desert diamond is growing as fast as nearby Las Vegas. The property includes two superior hotels (a Ritz-Carlton and a Hyatt regency) and a new Loews hotel is on the way. Also in the works is Rainbow Canyon, a Tom Fazio layout that will join the existing pair of courses: Nicklaus’ reflection Bay and Tom Weiskopf’s Falls course.
Contact: 760-567-1234 (Hyatt) or 702-567-4700 (Ritz), lakelasvegas.com
The Lodge at Koele Lanai, Hawaii
Medal History: Made the leap to Gold in 2004
Why It’s Worth It: The swank Lodge promises upgrades in 2006. Guests enjoy amenities such as an archery range and a sporting clay course. But the real thrill is the Experience course, where the tee shot at No. 17 plummets into the deepest gorge on the island.
Contact: 800-321-4666, lodgeatkoele.com
The Lodge at Pebble Beach Pebble Beach, Calif.
Medal History: A perennial Gold
Why It’s Worth It: You just won’t find a more storied public-access course in the U.S. The Lodge is just a lag putt from the 18th green, and nothing beats the feeling of drawing back your room shades to see the whales in Stillwater Cove looking back at you.
Contact: 800-654-9300, pebblebeach.com
Mauna Lani Resort Kohala Coast, Hawaii
Medal History: Has never fallen from the Gold podium
Why It’s Worth It: There are two luxury properties on the site, the Mauna lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows and the Fairmont Orchid, both perched on a pristine white-sand beach. Both the North and South courses are breezy island layouts that will soothe your nerves no matter what you score.
Contact: 800-323-7500, maunalani.com
Pinehurst Resort Pinehurst, N.C.
Medal History: Eight consecutive Golds
Why It’s Worth It: The century-old Carolina Hotel keeps itself in the game, completing a major room renovation this year. You have eight courses to choose from here. The big daddy is No. 2, the 2005 U.S. Open venue, but Nos. 4 and 8 also earn spots on our Top 100 Courses You Can Play.
Contact: 800-487-4653, pinehurst.com
Princeville Resort Kauai, Hawaii
Medal History: Gold since 1994
Why It’s Worth It: It’s the little touches that make a difference at Princeville. Each room has been fitted with a large privacy window, which turns from opaque to clear at the touch of a button. The Prince Course is No. 20 on out Top 100 Courses You can Play.
Contact: 800-826-4400, princeville.com
Sea Island Resort Sea Island, Ga.
Medal History: Gold since 1992
Why It’s Worth It: This resort has been a haven for the well-heeled for more than 80 years. (Presidents Bush’s parents honeymooned here.) The dunes-strewn Seaside Course is the best of the three options, and ranks No. 83 on our Top 100 Courses in the U.S. A recent $500 million renaissance included an all-new Cloister main building, 65,000-square-foot spa and fitness center, Yacht Club, Stables and Tennis Center.
Contact: 888-732-4752, seaisland.com
Sunriver Resort Sunriver, Ore.
Medal History: Gold since 2002
Why It’s Worth It: Sunriver is not a couch spud’s resort. You can ski and play golf on the same day. The best of the three courses is Crosswater, with par 5s longer than the buffet line at an OvereatersAnonymouss convention. When you’re done there, ride a canoe down the Deschutes River. The Owl’s Nest bar serves up some of the best microbrews in the Pacific Northwest.
Contact: 800-801-8765, sunriver-resort.com
Walt Disney World Resort Orlando, Fla.
Medal History: This is Mickey’s sixth Gold to go with two Silvers
Why It’s Worth It: There are 99 holes here, plus more thrills for the family than you can shake a wand at. Three courses by Joe Lee (the best of which is the Magnolia track) and contributions from Tom Fazio and Pete Dye round at this magical kingdom for golfers. Disney’s latest thrill ride, Expedition Everest–Legend of the Forbidden Mountain, opens this spring and gives you an excuse for a golf trip under the guise of generous parenting.
Contact: 407-934-7639, disneyworld.com
Williamsburg Inn Williamsburg, Va.
Medal History: Has fallen short of Gold only once since 1988
Why It’s Worth It: Founded as a retreat for John D. Rockefeller Jr., the Inn received a major facelift four years ago that involved reducing the number of rooms from 100 to 62 so they could be enlarged, refinishing the original antique furniture, and adding a tea room. The white-glove service will inspire you to keep up with the Joneses, and you can do that at the Golden Horseshoe Golf Club, where you’ll find tracks by Robert Sr. and his son Rees. Kids under 15 can play the Spotswood Course free with a parent.
Contact: 800-447-8679, colonialwilliamsburg.com