Best golf resorts for general excellence: GOLF’s Top 100 Resorts 2019
Historically, golf doesn’t glorify broad-based performance the way, say, track does, where the Olympic decathlon champ is considered the world’s finest athlete. Still, Rory and Brooks topping the All-Around stat this season reminds that being versatile produces winning results. The same can be said for resorts. Warm welcomes, friendly yet polished service, superb golf, high-end amenities and off-course experiences — it’s a sign of greatness to be good at it all.
Without further ado, here are GOLF’s 25 best resorts for General Excellence. (For our ranking methodology, scroll to the bottom of this article.)
784 rooms / two golf courses / spa / two pools / 10 restaurants / fitness center / tennis
Best time to go: For golf, May through October; for a holiday wonderland, December.
Daily stay-and-plays start at: $775.
Golf experience: Two 18s that intermingle Donald Ross’s 1918 layout with a second 18 crafted by Robert Trent Jones Sr. in ’64. The woodsy West course is Himalayan. The East — host to U.S. Ams in ’59 and ’67, a U.S. Women’s Open in ’95, and a U.S. Senior Open in 2018 — is the tougher test.
Best non-golf amenity: Look up — the mountains.
While you’re there: Tackle, if you dare, the nearby Manitou Incline, the breathtakingly vertical .88-mile fitness climb made famous by Apolo Ohno.
Insider tip: Almost as steep are the spa prices. A blissful alternative is a $25 day pass that gets you all the spa amenities, sans the handwork.
Travelogue: It says something about the majesty of the Colorado mountains that a destination as sprawling as the Broadmoor can still feel like a hideaway. Tucked into the foothills of Cheyenne Mountain, the 101-year-old, five-star resort pulls off other tricks as well. It somehow feels homey and high-class. Rugged Pikes Peak is within reach, but at every turn is polished marble and pampering service. With its 10 restaurants, indoor and outdoor pools, spa, bowling alley, s’mores-friendly firepits and two gorgeously maintained courses, there’s no reason to leave the Broadmoor’s comforts. But the pull of the peaks is strong, and the resort offers many dusty adventures. Most alluring are the “wilderness experiences” at three luxe lodging outposts: Cloud Camp, Fly Fishing Camp and the Ranch at Emerald Valley. On the dastardly Ross and RTJ greens, everything runs away from the mountains. At the Broadmoor, where they get everything just right, you’ll bask in them. Read more here.
Also good for: Luxury, Families.
broadmoor.com / (844) 602-3343
677 rooms and 33 suites / two 18-hole courses, one nine-holer and one nine-hole par-3 course, plus one course for members only / 18 restaurants and bars / spa / pool / fitness center / casino
Best time to go: A year-round retreat, the Greenbrier is popular during fall and spring months — two seasons almost as colorful as the Dorothy Draper-designed interiors.
Daily stay-and-plays start at: $549.
Golf experience: The Old White TPC and The Greenbrier are the two 18-hole, bucket-list must-plays here.
Best non-golf amenity: The Greenbrier Casino Club has 37 tables and 320 different slot machines to test your luck.
While you’re there: Tour the declassified Bunker at the Greenbrier — a Cold War-era emergency fallout shelter.
Insider tip: Heads up: The dress code is taken seriously in certain areas of the hotel — though you can certainly head to the gym or get a cup of coffee without your Sunday best.
Travelogue: The iconic Greenbrier is steeped heavily in historic charm and old-fashioned elegance. The guest list of VIPs, presidents and other dignitaries is unlike anywhere else on earth — so, too, is the underground “Fall Out Bunker” designed to keep the 1,100 members and staff of the U.S. Congress safe in the event of a catastrophe. There’s outdoor recreation, a casino, spa — the 11,000 acre Greenbrier is a resort behemoth. That said, it’s the golf that makes the Greenbrier truly memorable, starting with the Greenbrier Course, host of the 1979 Ryder Cup and 1994 Solheim Cup. Jack Nicklaus revamped the original Seth Raynor design back in 1977, resulting in a venerable challenge carved out of dense wooded areas. It’s a shotshaper’s paradise. The Old White TPC course opened in 1914, designed by C.B. Macdonald, considered the patriarch of modern American course architecture. Ironically, many of its holes are homages to classic links inventions from across the pond: the Redan green from North Berwick and the Eden green from St. Andrews. The course is also home to A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier—a player and fan-favorite event on the PGA Tour. Read more here.
Also good for: Families.
greenbrier.com / (855) 453-4858
757 rooms / two golf courses / spa / pool / fitness center
Best time to go: September, when the course is in great shape at the tail end of the season and the weather is predictably golf-worthy.
Daily stay-and-plays start at: $450.
Golf experience: The 1928 Stanley Thompson-designed stunner will keep you returning to Banff for years with mountain views in every direction.
Best non-golf amenity: Ride the Banff gondola up Sulphur Mountain for 360-degree views of six mountain ranges. Go at sunset.
While you’re there: Take the 15-minute walk from the resort along the Bow River into downtown Banff for shopping, dining or a drink.
Insider tip: Right next to the 15th tee — the original first hole when the course opened — is the Waldhaus Pub & Biergarten. Formerly the clubhouse from 1928 to 1989, it now serves up Bavarian beverages in a comfortable, beer-cellar-type setting.
Travelogue: Never heard of Stanley Thompson? His design at Fairmont Banff Springs, just under two hours west of Calgary in Banff National Park, is a masterpiece that perfectly captures his often overlooked architectural genius. The Rundle (front) and Sulphur (back) nines both comprise exquisite holes, like the par-3 4th, famously known as the “Devil’s Cauldron,” and par-4 15th, a 475-yard beast that demands you carry your drive over the Bow River from an elevated tee box. Rock walls tower impossibly close over many holes here in the heart of the Canadian Rockies. Keep your head up and enjoy the views. Bears, elk, deer and coyotes may be watching you from afar, so stay alert to their presence as well. The Tunnel Mountain nine, a full-size par-36 layout added in 1989, is considered by locals to be the second hardest nine (after the Sulphur nine, which is the most wind-exposed of the three) on property. The resort itself, first opened in 1888, is a massive, castle-like structure standing 11 stories high that can be glimpsed from numerous holes. Read more here.
Also good for: Luxury.
fairmont.com / (833) 762-6866
242 rooms and 13 suites, 400 villas, 90 homes / five golf courses / 15 restaurants and bars / fitness center / spa / pool / tennis
Best time to go: Late spring and late fall. April-October gets very busy.
Daily stay-and-plays start at: $235.
Golf experience: Five golf courses, the crown jewel being the Pete Dye-designed Ocean Course, a must-play for any Ryder Cup or PGA Tour aficionado.
Best non-golf amenity: Kiawah’s 10-mile stretch of sandy shoreline ranks among the best in the world, earning numerous awards and honors year after year.
While you’re there: There’s so much to do on Kiawah Island that it’s hard to choose. If you’re into bait and tackle, however, the Inshore Fishing Charter takes you to the best spots in the Low Country. Redfish, spotted sea trout, flounder and various seasonal species flourish here.
Insider tip: The resort offers a full slate of outdoor activities. Your kids’ phones, game consoles and tablets don’t stand a chance.
Travelogue: Kiawah Island, about 20 miles from Charleston, epitomizes the beauty of South Carolina’s Low Country, and the Palmetto trees and Spanish moss lend somewhat of a cinematic aesthetic to the experience. The sublime, oceanfront Sanctuary Hotel anchors five golf courses and a mix of villas and homes, with an endless supply of activities and adventures for guests to explore. The golf menu at Kiawah Island is mind-blowing: the Ocean Course by Pete Dye, Osprey Point by Tom Fazio, Turtle Point by Jack Nicklaus, Cougar Point by Gary Player and Oak Point by Clyde Johnson. The Ocean Course garners the lion’s share of attention, but the other four courses have grown more popular thanks to a bevy of renovations and improvements. Play all five on your visit and you’ll bag enough memories to last a lifetime. Read more here.
Also good for: Luxury.
kiawahresort.com / (888) 601-4904
500-plus suites, villas and beach houses / three golf courses / six restaurants / spa / tennis / biking / beach
Best time to go: April or May, before the weather gets too hot.
Daily stay-and-plays start at: $218.
Golf experience: Three championship courses, one of which hosts a PGA Tour event.
Best non-golf amenity: Five miles of idyllic beaches to soothe your case of the shanks.
While you’re there: Visit the Harbour Town Yacht Basin, where there’s killer views, drool-worthy vessels, shopping and restaurants.
Insider tip: The PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage is held at one of the resort’s courses, Harbour Town, every April, so check your calendars and plan accordingly.
Travelogue: Hilton Head Island has long been one of the most in-demand golf destinations around, and no tee time is more sought after than Harbour Town, the Pete Dye/Jack Nicklaus collaboration and the crown jewel of Sea Pines Resort. It’s hosted the PGA Tour since 1969, when Arnold Palmer won the inaugural event, and it’s GOLF’s ninth-ranked public course in the U.S. With tight fairways, pesky overhanging branches and small greens, the charming course’s emphasis has always been on ball-striking. The dramatic 18th plays alongside the water and back toward the iconic red-and-white striped Harbour Town Lighthouse, a memorable way to end any round. Read more here.
Also good for: Buddies, Families.
seapines.com / (866) 561-8802
Best time to go: Late spring and early fall. Daily stay-and-plays start at: $360. Golf experience: One of oldest courses in the country designed by two of the country’s greatest architects: Donald Ross and A.W. Tillinghast. Best non-golf amenity: The 30,000-square-foot Springs Eternal Spa utilizes mineral-rich water from natural springs that run under the resort, coupled with modern spa amenities. While you’re there: Treat yourself to the above. Insider tip: Take a scenic 20-minute drive to beautiful Shawnee State Park to hike and soak up the gorgeous mountain views or swim in 451-acre Shawnee Lake. Also good for: Families. Read more here.
omnihotels.com / (814) 623-8100
Best time to go: Late May/early June (post spring break) or early December, before the winter vacay crowds hit. Golf experience: Jack Nicklaus-designed Ocean course and Tom Weiskopf-designed Desert course. Daily stay-and-plays start at: $460. Best non-golf amenity: The private infinity pools at each of the 14 villas are heaven (as is the resort’s direct beach access). While you’re there: Book a fishing trip. This is the “marlin capital of the world.” The waters also teem with mahi mahi, tuna, halibut, wahoo and corvina. Insider tip: Grab lunch at Taqueria El Paisa — less than 20 minutes from the resort. The tacos here are the stuff of legend. Also good for: Families. Read more here.
cabodelsol.com / (866) 231-4677
Best time to go: December through April is peak season. Summer offers incredible value (depending on your heat tolerance). Daily stay-and-plays start at: $750. Golf experience: Punta Espada (Jack Nicklaus). Best non-golf amenity: Scape Park features zip lining, lagoons, iguana, parrots, monkeys, caves and more. While you’re there: Dine at the new Blue Grill + Bar at Eden Roc, led by Chef Adriano Venturini. Insider tip: Fly into Punta Cana International Airport, a mere 15 minutes from the first tee. Also good for: Families. Read more here.
capcana.com / (809) 227-2262
Best time to go: December through April is peak season; summer offers incredible value and juniors play free. Daily stay-and-plays start at: $300. Golf experience: Teeth of the Dog, Dye Fore, The Links. Best non-golf amenity: Altos de Chavon, a replica 16th century Mediterranean village with working artists, shops and restaurants. While you’re there: Check out the new Minitas Beach Club, with its expansive deck, infinity pool and specialty cocktails. Insider tip: Hop the high-speed ferry to the private Catalina Island to enjoy a tranquil, pristine beach experience. Also good for: Families. Read more here.
casadecampo.com.do / (800) 877-3643
Best time to go: Early July when the course brightens up from the long winter. Daily stay-and-plays start at: $173. Golf experience: Exhilarating mountain golf designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. Best non-golf amenity: Whistler Experience Guides for hiking and biking; the bee hotel on the roof of the resort. While you’re there: Ride a bobsled down the same track used in Whistler for the 2010 Winter Olympics, or soak up the views from a ride on the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola. Insider tip: Bring more than a few sleeves with you — fairways are wide but the mountain setting, including some granite rock outcroppings, often send balls bouncing to their final resting place. Also good for: General Excellence. Read more here.
fairmont.com / (800) 606-8244
Best time to go: Spring, when wildflowers are in bloom, and fall, when the neighboring vineyards are heavy with fruit. Daily stay-and-plays start at: $560. Golf experience: Rolling Robert Trent Jones Jr. course that hosted the Frys.com Open from 2010-2013 as well as the 2016 U.S. Women’s Open. Best non-golf amenity: The Vichy showers in the spa, where you’re bathed in generous streams of warm water while lying on a shallow, comfortable bed. While you’re there: Take a dip in the oversized hot tub, surrounded by big-screen TVs — it’s like an entertainment cave for Aquaman. Insider tip: From 8 a.m.-4 p.m. daily, a complimentary shuttle takes guests to/from neighboring Clos LaChance winery for tastings and tours. Also good for: Luxury. Read more here.
cordevalle.com / (408) 695-4500
Best time to go: December through April is peak “social season.” Daily stay-and-plays start at: $450. Golf experience: 18-hole Pete Dye renovated golf course. Best non-golf amenity: The Beach Club, situated right on the Gulf of Mexico serving poolside cocktails. While you’re there: Head to Inn Adventures for kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding. Insider tip: The Inn is closing for renovations starting in the summer of 2020. Also good for: Luxury. Read more here.
the-gasparilla-inn.com / (877) 764-1420
Best time to go: Year-round; prioritize spring or late fall to take advantage of more temperate weather and to avoid summer vacation crowds. Daily stay-and-plays start at: $650. Golf experience: Of Wailea Golf Club’s three breezy courses — Gold, Emerald and Blue — the Emerald offers the friendliest test. Best non-golf amenity: The incredible resort pool complex — complete with multiple waterslides, rapids and a rope swing — will make you forget there’s a Hawaiian beach only steps away. While you’re there: Order a Mai Tai from the ultra-cool swim-up grotto bar. Insider tip: Wailea resort guests can take advantage of discounted golf rates at Wailea Golf Club. Also good for: Families. Read more here.
grandwailea.com / (800) 888-6100
Best time to go: Late spring and early fall. Daily stay-and-plays start at: $500. Golf experience: 18-hole Donald Ross design. Best non-golf amenity: The 43,000-square-foot spa with 20 water features. While you’re there: Take in the sunset over the Blue Ridge Mountains from the Sunset Terrace Restaurant. Insider tip: Book the Guy’s Golf Getaway, a three-night stay with unlimited golf, daily breakfast and a bucket of beers upon arrival. Also good for: Families. Read more here.
omnihotels.com / (800) 438-5800
Best time to go: Year-round; shoot for early fall when the sun breaks free of the marine layer. Daily stay-and-plays start at: $800. Golf experience: The Ocean Course, designed by Arthur Hills, and the Old Course, designed by Arnold Palmer. Best non-golf amenity: The firepit on the terrace behind the Ritz-Carlton, where guests relax over tall pours of Northern California wines. While you’re there: For the fitness-minded, take a run along the cliffs of the Half Moon Bay Coastal Trail. Insider tip: Book the Legends of Golf package to receive a $50 resort credit. Also good for: Luxury. Read more here.
ritzcarlton.com / (650) 712-7000
Best time to go: September for best course conditions and full fall colors. Daily stay-and-plays start at: $324. Golf experience: Become one with nature on this Stanley Thompson design set in a national park. Best non-golf amenity: Grab a kayak and paddle around Lac Beauvert, a glacier-fed lake surrounded by snow-capped mountains. While you’re there: Test your nerves on the Columbia Icefield Skywalk, a glass walkway that juts out over a deep valley. Insider tip: Stay in the four-bedroom home named after the course designer. Also good for: Luxury. Read more here.
fairmont.com / (866) 540-4454
Best time to go: October through May, but you’ll find the best prices during summer months. Daily stay-and-plays start at: $380. Golf experience: Of La Quinta Resort’s two courses, the Dunes and Mountain, the Mountain is ranked in GOLF’s Top 100 Courses You Can Play. Best non-golf amenity: The 21 beautifully maintained tennis courts. While you’re there: Rent a bike from the fitness center and take a scenic ride on nearby paths with stunning views of the surrounding Santa Rosa mountains. Insider tip: Channel your inner Roger Federer by making a reservation to play on the resort’s “center court,” which has stadium-style seating. Also good for: Families. Read more here.
laquintaresort.com / (760) 564-4111
Best time to visit: Spring and fall are outstanding for good weather and great golf. Go in summer to enjoy the huge resort pool. Daily stay-and-plays start at: $625. Golf experience: 18 holes at the TPC Four Seasons, the former longtime home of the PGA Tour’s Byron Nelson Classic. Best non-golf amenity: A 16-room spa with full-service salon. While you’re there: If you must leave campus, Villa Real Mexican serves up awesome Tex-Mex, and it’s right across the street. Insider tip: Check out the incredible practice facility by the Four Seasons Golf School. When the Byron Nelson was still at Las Colinas, the pros practiced here as much as they played. Also good for: Families. Read more here.
fourseasons.com / (972) 717-0700
Best time to go: September, when temperatures are moderate and fall foliage hits peak colors. Daily stay-and-plays start at: $165. Golf experience: 27 holes, including the rollercoaster fairways of the St-Laurent nine and its mind-blowing downhill opener. Best non-golf amenity: See the stars up close at the Charlevoix Astronomical Observatory located on site. While you’re there: Check out stops on the Charlevoix Flavour Trail, a consortium of 40 area restaurants, farms, bars and shops. Insider tip: An underground tunnel connects the Manoir Richelieu to the Charlevoix Casino. Also good for: Luxury. Read more here.
fairmont.com / (418) 665-3703
Best time to go: Late spring and early fall for prime temperatures. Daily stay-and-plays start at: $550. Golf experience: Mystic Rock, a Pete Dye design and former site of the 84 Lumber Classic; the new Shepherd’s Rock, designed by Tim Liddy. Best non-golf amenity: The Adventure Center, with dueling zip lines, Polaris adventures, base jumping, climbing wall and ropes course. While you’re there: Wander the resort’s halls and grounds to discover works of art valued at more than $45 million. Insider tip: Butlers provide a customized experience at the Falling Rock property, including drawing baths. Also good for: Families. Read more here.
nemacolin.com / (866) 344-6957
Best time to go: Anytime, though September and October are typically drier. Daily stay-and-plays start at: $400. Golf experience: Makai GC will quickly deplete your vocabulary of adjectives with endless jaw-dropping views. Best non-golf amenity: Helicopter ride around Kauai from nearby Princeville Airport. While you’re there: Take the on-course Sunset Tour. This self-driven cart ride ($70 per 2-person cart) hits five scenic points at various holes during a two-hour tour that concludes with sunset viewing. Insider tip: Tradewinds usually kick up around 10 a.m. and keep blowing until 4 p.m. Also good for: Luxury, General Excellence. Read more here.
princevilleresorthawaii.com / (833) 623-2111
Best time to go: Fall, when days are cool, nights are crisp and the trees are cloaked in their finest seasonal colors. Daily stay-and-plays start at: $445. Golf experience: A pair of complimentary courses (one by Jack Nicklaus, the other by Tom Fazio), spilling through a landscape of lava rock outcrops and junipers. Best non-golf amenity: The Wellness Teepee. While your there: Visit the lava rock cave, where the resort holds group yoga classes and intimate dinners. Insider tip: Bend is home to more breweries per capita than any city in the country. Pronghorn takes appropriate advantage. Also good for: Families. Read more here.
pronghornresort.com / (866) 320-5024
Best time to go: Spring or late fall. Daily stay-and-plays start at: $300. Golf experience: Two championship courses that are among the best courses in the desert. Best non-golf amenity: The Four Seasons label says it all — expect the best of everything. While you’re there: In February and March, catch some spring training Cactus League baseball nearby. Insider tip: Dining options abound, but when it comes to ambiance, a modern vibe and ridiculously good food, go with Proof Canteen. Also good for: Buddies, Families. Read more here.
fourseasons.com / (480) 515-5700