Best golf resorts for families: GOLF’s Top 100 Resorts 2019
You’re trying to stretch your hard-earned dollars. You don’t want getting there to be half the fun — you want to be there with your family, pronto. You also want a relaxed vibe where you feel like you run the joint. Can’t-miss stay-and-play deals? Yes, please, made all the more alluring by the fact that the golf’s really good, as are the pool, the beach and the local attractions. Once again, the name of the game? Fun!
Without further ado, here are GOLF’s 25 best resorts for Families. (For our ranking methodology, scroll to the bottom of this article.)
302 private accommodations / 58 holes of golf / spa / pool / 12 restaurants / loads of outdoor pursuits
Best time to go: Though it’s a year-round resort, go in the spring and early summer for the best weather.
Daily stay-and-plays start at: $218.
Golf experience: Two 18-hole layouts (Ozarks National, Buffalo Ridge Springs), one par-3 nine-hole course (Top of the Rock), and a 13-hole, short course (Mountain Top).
Best non-golf amenity: The Bass Pro Shops Shooting Academy is a dream for shooting enthusiasts.
While you’re there: Sample the horseback riding, boat cruises and fishing — what else would you expect from Johnny Morris, creator of Big Cedar Lodge and founder of Bass Pro Shops.
Insider tip: The Arnold Palmer Practice Facility is lots of fun — and only accessible to those who play Top of the Rock.
Travelogue: Big Cedar is a wilderness resort through and through, chockful of outdoor activities primed for any Bass Pro Shop or Cabela’s acolyte. Situated about 10 miles from Branson, the young resort has quickly become one of the country’s preeminent golf destinations. In addition to the courses and amenities that already carry such name associations as Nicklaus, Palmer, Watson, Player, Fazio, and Coore/Crenshaw, Tiger will join that illustrious group when his Payne’s Valley course opens in 2020. Also good for: Buddies. Read more here.
bigcedar.com / (800) 225-6343
Five Hotels / 21 restaurants / spas / pools
Best time to go: April through October is best for great golf and weather.
Daily stay-and-plays start at: $359.
Golf experience: 45 holes at the Golden Horseshoe Club, courtesy of Robert Trent Jones Sr. and his son, Rees.
Best non-golf amenity: Jamestown, Yorktown, Colonial Williamsburg.
While you’re there: Enjoy a carriage ride through the entirety of Virginia’s most one-of-a-kind resort.
Insider tip: Bring the kids for a history lesson — with period actors — they will actually enjoy.
Travelogue: History is what they’re selling at Colonial Williamsburg, but as you’re learning about one of America’s first colonies, you can create your own. There’s a huge variety of lodging choices; many attractions for families, couples and history buffs; and lots of great golf. In addition to the Colonial Williamsburg Resort and its Golden Horseshoe Club, the nearby Kingsmill Resort (kingsmillresort.com; 800-832-5665), on the James River, boasts two championship courses for guests. The 6,432-yard, par-72 Plantation Course is an Arnold Palmer and Ed Seay design that challenges players of all skill levels. The River Course hosts the Pure Silk Championship, where the top LPGA players compete on a 6,379-yard, par-71, Pete Dye-designed layout. The River’s 17th hole, which non-golfers can walk to, is the original landing spot of the Jamestown settlers and is dotted with Native American artifacts and American Revolution earthen works, making in perhaps the most historic golf hole in America.
colonialwilliamsburghotels.com / (855) 231-7240
34 rooms in cabins and ranch houses / three golf courses / one rustic-chic restaurant and (by reservation) a chuck wagon / spa / horseback riding / shooting range / goat herding
Best time to go: Spring and fall for long days and cool nights.
Daily stay-and-plays start at: $600.
Golf experience: An imaginatively routed and wonderfully scenic 18-hole reversible course designed by Dan Hixson, plus two par-3 courses staffed by goat caddies.
Best non-golf amenity: The Rocking Heart Spa, with arresting views across 10 miles of alpine meadows.
While you’re there: Saddle up and set out on a cattle drive, one of several ranch activities the property offers.
Insider tip: The bar in the main lodge is home to the largest whiskey collection in the region.
Travelogue: Don’t call it a dude ranch. It’s a working ranch, where the goats need herding, the horses need feeding and the cattle require someone to round them up. This being frontier Oregon, in the state’s eastern reaches, those duties fall to seasoned ranch hands, who are more than happy to have your help. Expect to get a little dusty if you saddle up for one of the resort’s immersive western-style adventures. Hixson’s ingenious reversible track is an adventure in itself, as are the pair of sweet par-3 tracks. You don’t need caddies on the latter, but you’ll want them, since those caddies are American Range Goats, born and raised on the property. With harnesses strapped across their backs to carry clubs and beer, these four-legged loopers make sure-footed and useful companions. Many of their siblings serve a different purpose at Silvies: In the lodge restaurant, they turn up on the menu. Also good for: Buddies. Read more here.
silvies.us / (800) 745-8437
100-plus rooms in two hotels / 54 holes of golf / 13 restaurants / spa / pool / casino
Best time to go: Spring or fall for golf.
Daily stay-and-plays start at: $284.
Golf experience: Must-plays are the 36 holes at the Donald Ross and Pete Dye courses.
Best non-golf amenity: After trying your luck on the golf courses, try the same at the casino.
While you’re there: Hoops junkies need to make time to go see the Spring Valley High School gym where Larry Bird worked his magic before heading to Indiana State and the NBA Hall of Fame.
Insider tip: If you’ve lost enough dough on the course or at the slots, seek out the bowling alley for a friendly, non-money game.
Travelogue: Like lots of great resorts, this isn’t the easiest place to get to, but once you’ve given your GPS a workout, you will be glad you did. Historic and lavish lodging is offered at two hotels: West Baden Springs and French Lick Springs. Plus gambling and golf. What’s not to like about that trifecta? If you’ve never played the Pete Dye Course, you’ll be hugely impressed by the site of the ’15 Senior PGA Championship. Truly great work by the Indiana native on this dramatic piece of Southern Indiana territory. The Donald Ross Course has been on the property for more than 100 years, and while it’s not as dramatic, it’s a stirring test by one of the game’s master architectures. Golf, gambling, good times. A journey to French Lick is well worth taking. Also good for: Families. Read more here.
frenchlick.com / (888) 936-9360
200 rooms / 27 holes of golf / four restaurants / spa / pools / skiing
Best time to go: April through August is best for golf; winter for skiing.
Daily stay-and-plays start at: $249.
Golf experience: 27 holes at the excellent Mount Washington GC and the nine-hole Mount Pleasant course.
Best non-golf amenity: It’s hard to beat a lazy afternoon in a rocker on the wraparound porch.
While you’re there: Take the gondola to the top of Mount Washington for an outrageously scenic lunch or mile-high brew.
Insider tip: The hallway walls are lined with photographs that capture the history of this New England gem. Soak them up.
Travelogue: Like a favorite old uncle with a haircut and fashionable new duds, the Mount Washington Resort, which has welcomed generations of New England travelers, has benefited greatly from a sprucing up — and the millions new owner Omni has pumped into it. The venue, first opened in 1902, still maintains its old-world charm — particularly in the ornate dining room, where an orchestra plays nightly. Also featured is an upgraded spa and a fine 18-hole Donald Ross original (1915). The resort’s spectacular screened-in porch allows the scenery to stream in. And as the namesake mountain would suggest, skiing is the name of the game in the wintertime. Also good for: General Excellence. Read more here.
omnihotels.com / (603) 278-1000
Best time to go: December through April is peak season throughout the Caribbean and Mexico. Daily stay-and-plays start at: $175. Golf experience: 27 holes designed by Robert von Hagge. Best non-golf amenity: The synthetic grass tennis courts by the lagoon are lit for night matches. While you’re there: Take a side trip to Manzanilla for beach bumming and deep-sea fishing. Insider tip: Consider tacking on a couple days to visit Puerto Vallarta, with its red roofs, golden sunsets and cobbled streets. Also good for: General Excellence. Read more here.
islanavidad.com.mx / (855) 278-2683
Best time to go: Do you want golf and the beach or a snowy adventure? This is a golf website, so let’s settle on June through August. Daily stay-and-plays start at: $250. Golf experience: The two championship courses (one with three different nines) are among the best public tracks in Minnesota. Best non-golf amenity: Tranquil pontoon cruises fill up fast, so get on the list and enjoy. While you’re there: Enjoy a relaxing afternoon with beer or wine tasting, or head a few miles down the road to Nisswa and shop until you drop. Insider tip: In the spring and fall there are golf-packages galore. Bring extra layers and get big savings. Also good for: Buddies, General Excellence. Read more here.
grandviewlodge.com / (866) 801-2951
Best time to go: Early spring or late fall for perfect Florida sun. Daily stay-and-plays start at: $132. Golf experience: Two courses designed by a pair of legends: Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson. Best non-golf amenity: Pools galore, for kids and adults. While you’re there: Take a moment and relax on the beach, which is just a chip shot away from Jack’s Ocean Course. Insider tip: Bring your own quick morning eats and indulge at the restaurants for lunch and dinner. Also good for: Buddies, General Excellence. Read more here.
hammockbeach.com / (866) 841-0287
Best time to go: Summer for golf and waterslides; fall for foliage; winter for skiing. Daily stay-and-plays start at: $248. Golf experience: Two grand 18s, the Old Course and Cascades. Best non-golf amenity: Massive spa at the site of the largest hot springs in Virginia. While you’re there: Don’t skip the on-site movie theater. Insider tip: Golf legend Sam Snead grew up and spent much of his life here. Snead stories at the Homestead are legendary. Also good for: General Excellence. Read more here.
omnihotels.com / (800) 838-1766
Best time to go: Spring and fall are perfect for golf; summer is prime for water sports. Daily stay-and-plays start at: $299. Golf experience: Three 18s — Apple Rock, Ram Rock and Slick Rock — designed by famed architect Robert Trent Jones, Sr. Best non-golf amenity: The massive Lake LBJ is adjacent to the resort and offers all manner of boating activities and watery fun. While you’re there: Nearby Marble Falls is a classic Texas Hill Country town with shops to explore, crafts to buy and the historic Blue Bonnet Cafe. Insider tip: Golfer or not, you and your family will have a blast on the lighted, natural grass, 18-hole putting course. Also good for: Buddies. Read more here.
hsbresort.com / (877) 611-0112
Best time to go: Late spring and early fall for prime temperatures. Daily stay-and-plays start at: $400. Golf experience: The East Course, West Course, Spring Creek (nine holes) and an 18-hole putting course. Best non-golf amenity: Hershey Park, with its rides, water park, Zoo America and chocolate factory tours. While you’re there: Try a whipped cocoa bath at the spa. Insider tip: Only members and guests of the hotel have access to the golf courses. Also good for: General Excellence. Read more here.
thehotelhershey.com / (844) 330-1711
Best time to go: Pretty much anytime of the year, but May and October are ideal. Daily stay-and-plays start at: $476. Golf experience: The Champions Course and Legends Course both hosted PGA Tour events back in the day. Best non-golf amenity: Heal your body at the resort’s award-winning spa or work on your mind with meditation and yoga at the Chopra Center. While you’re there: The resort is just a mile east of I-5, providing a handy launch point to reach family favorites like Legoland California, Sea World and the San Diego Zoo. Insider tip: The RoboGolfPro swing trainer located on the practice range lets you experience exactly what a proper swing feels like. Also good for: General Excellence. Read more here.
omnihotels.com / (760) 438-9111
Best time to go: Year-round; favor spring or late fall to avoid crowds. Daily stay-and-plays start at: $564. Golf experience: Ojai CC, a 1923 George C. Thomas/Billy Bell design. Best non-golf amenity: A cozy, in-room fireplace. Not all rooms include one, so book wisely. While you’re there: Check out the inn’s beekeeping and honey-tasting experience. Insider tip: The Unlimited Golf Package includes daily lunch at Jimmy’s Pub. Also good for: Luxury. Read more here.
ojaivalleyinn.com / (855) 591-1802
Best time to go: Summer to early fall is perfect for golf. Daily stay-and-plays start at: $339. Golf experience: 18 holes at the spectacular Links at Crowbush Cove. Best non-golf amenity: Go with your family on a clam dig and stay for a beach lobster broil. While you’re there: Rent a car to roam other parts of the island and other golf courses. Insider tip: Nature trips aside, don’t sleep on the golf. It’s crazy good. Also good for: Buddies. Read more here.
roddvacations.com / (800) 565-7633
Best time to go: Fall, when the Adirondack Mountains’ foliage peaks and it’s golf-sweater weather. Daily stay-and-plays start at: $425. Golf experience: A Donald Ross beauty that dates to 1928. Best non-golf amenity: The magnificent, 32-mile-long Lake George. While you’re there: Rent a charter boat for touring or fishing. Insider tip: Play golf early, then adjourn to the lake or pool. Also good for: General Excellence. Read more here.
thesagamore.com / (866) 384-1944
Best time to go: Spring or fall for golf, summer for families. Daily stay-and-plays start at: $419. Golf experience: 36 holes at the TPC San Antonio, Greg Norman’s Oaks course (host of the annual Valero Texas Open) and Pete Dye’s Canyons course. Best non-golf amenity: A 1,100-foot water ride encircles the massive pool. While you’re there: Don’t miss the famous San Antonio Riverwalk. A hotel shuttle handles the 30-minute drive. Insider tip: Grab a stool at High Velocity, a popular on-site sports bar with plenty of TVs. Also good for: Buddies. Read more here.
marriott.com / (210) 276-2500
Best time to go: May or September to avoid the summer humidity. Daily stay-and-plays start at: $270. Golf experience: The linksy Bay Course (designed by Hugh Wilson, with bunkering by Donald Ross) and the tree-lined Pines Course. Best non-golf amenity: An indoor pool that dates to the resort’s opening in 1914. While you’re there: Atlantic City is just a 15-minute drive. Insider tip: The clam chowder. It’s a must. Also good for: General Excellence. Read more here.
seaviewdolcehotel.com / (855) 894-8698
Best time to go: Sun Valley’s golf season starts in late spring and runs through fall. Daily stay-and-plays start at: $259. Golf experience: Two 18s (one by RTJ Jr.) and one nine-hole layout. Best non-golf amenity: Miles of mountain-biking trails from the top of Bald Mountain feature more than 3,000 feet of vertical drop. While you’re there: Catch the Sun Valley on Ice summer ice show. Insider tip: The 18-hole Sawtooth Putting Course will jazz the whole family. Also good for: Buddies. Read more here.
sunvalley.com / (800) 786-8259
Best time to go: Summer, when “Cottage Country” pops with color. Daily stay-and-plays start at: $390. Golf experience: The 18-hole Taboo Course is consistently ranked among the best tracks in Canada, while the 19th “challenge hole” and nine-hole Sands course provide fun for all golfers. Best non-golf amenity: The Taboo margarita at the new Bar 19 at the Upper Deck. While you’re there: Take advantage of the Taboo Adventure Center, which arranges daily group hikes and bonfires. Insider tip: Kayak down Hoc Roc River to experience the full natural beauty of Muskoka. Also good for: General Excellence. Read more here.
taboomuskoka.com / (866) 485-9510
Best time to go: Winter is when the resort looks its best, but it’s also when the room and golf rates hit their peak. Daily stay-and-plays start at: $269. Golf experience: Three distinct nine-hole layouts designed by Arnold Palmer. Best non-golf amenity: Grab a tube and make a break for the 1,200-foot-long lazy river. While you’re there: Be sure to visit nearby Old Tucson, home to movie sets used as backdrops for more than 400 western films and TV shows. Insider tip: One of the best perks we’ve seen at any golf resort: After 3 p.m., kids play free with an accompanying adult. Also good for: Buddies. Read more here.
marriott.com / (520) 792-3500
Best time to go: Playable and hospitable all year long. Daily stay-and-plays start at: $200 (room only). Golf experience: Four full 18s — Disney’s Palm, Magnolia (former PGA Tour stop), Buena Vista and Oak Trail courses. Best non-golf amenity: Do we really need to say it? The Mouse House, of course. While you’re there: Oak Trail is home to a league-sanctioned, nine-hole footgolf course. Seriously — try it. It’s a legit kick. Insider tip: Knowing that squeezing in 18 holes during a family vacation can be a real a challenge, Disney’s courses offer “Sunrise 9” and “Sunset 9” options. Also good for: Buddies. Read more here.
golfwdw.com / (407) 939-4653