6 amazing golf destinations, explained

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A view of Sand Valley Golf Resort in Wisconsin.

Evan schiller

Welcome to GOLF’s Travel Mailbag, a series in which our staff members respond to your course and travel related queries. A question for a future mailbag? Tweet us at @golf_com.

Which Mega Golf Resort is Right for Me?

As usual, a ton of our last round of questions asked about mega golf resorts. The best time to go to Bandon? Cabot vs. Sand Valley? Pinehurst vs. Bandon? Which stations should I go to? These types of questions are plentiful. But without knowing all the relevant details – your budget, your schedule, your party makeup, your appetite for airport security lines, etc. – it is difficult to restrict an answer to a single suggestion. So we figured we were going to create this handy explainer on the six resorts we get the most questions about: Bandon Dunes, Cabot Links, Destination Kohler, Pinehurst, Sand Valley, and Streamsong. Hopefully these details will help clarify your thinking. Now the hard part: deciding where to go.

And if you’re looking for even more information on potential destinations, check out GOLF’s Top 100 Resorts page here.

Bandon Dunes Golf Resort (Bandon, Oregon)

How to get there: The nearest commercial airport is in North Bend, approximately 30 minutes from the resort. But another popular option is to fly to Eugene. It’s a longer drive from there to Bandon (about 2.5 hours), but it’s also a bigger airport, with a lot more flights. The same goes for Portland, which is about a 4.5 hour drive.

Course: Five 18-hole courses; a 13-hole par 3 course; and a 100,000 square foot putting course.

Pacific Dunes at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort.

Getty Images

Restaurants: Five on-site, ranging from sophisticated to casual to take away.

Why should you go: No destination in the modern age has done more to change the image of American golf than Bandon Dunes, where Mike Keizer has proven that if you build it they will come, provided you build it really well. No property on the planet also has a greater concentration of top 100 courses. Part of the fun of a trip to Bandon is the necessary debate over which of the 18 holes reigns supreme – Bandon Dunes, Pacific Dunes, Bandon Trails, Old MacDonald or Sheep Ranch. You can even decide that the 13 hole reserve is the one you like the most.

Insider tip: Like many top resorts, Bandon has been crowded lately. But even when every room is occupied, slots are sometimes opened on the tee sheet. In other words, you might still be able to book a golf course, with the option of renting a house nearby.

Following: Visit the station’s website here.

How to get there: The nearest commercial airport is in Halifax, just under a four hour drive from the resort.

Course: Two 18-hole courses and one 10-hole par-3 course.

The 16th par-3 at Cabot Cliffs.

Christian Hafer

Restaurants: Three dining options on the property: a pub, bar and a fine restaurant overlooking the water.

Why should you go: Nestled along the coast of a sleepy fishing village, Cabot offers excellent golf with a strong sense of place. Its two 18-hole courses, Cabot Links and Cabot Cliffs, feature on GOLF’s list of the top 100 courses in the world, although they offer a sort of study in contrasts. Where Links is a layout of understated grace, Cliffs lives up to its bill with the startling drama of etched holes atop towering seaside cliffs. Together, they rank among the best one-two shots in the world.

Insider tip: You have come this far. Go a little further, taking an extra day to visit Highland Links, a publicly accessible bucket list by Stanley Thompson, Canadian Alister Mackenzie, a design giant of the golden age. It’s about a 2.5 hour drive from Cabot and the scenery alone is worth the trip.

Following: Visit the station’s website here.

Destination Kohler (Kohler, Wisconsin)

How to get there: The closest commercial airport is Milwaukee, about an hour from the resort, although many travelers also head to Chicago’s O’Hare, which is just under 2.5 hours away.

Course: Four 18-hole courses, one 10-hole par 3 course and a two-acre putting course.

The Baths par-3 course opened this year at Destination Kohler.

Destination Kohler

Restaurants: Eleven, with varied menu styles and settings.

Why should you go: You’ve seen it on TV, most recently at this year’s Ryder Cup. But Whistling Straits is even more spectacular in person, a wild work of art and engineering by Pete Dye, stretched along a once flat expanse of Lake Michigan shoreline. Its three 18-hole siblings – the Irish course and the river and meadow valleys at Blackwolf Run – are also dye and dramatic and demanding designs. But you’ll also want to make time for Les Bains, a par 3 course that plays well with a few clubs in one hand and a cold drink in the other.

Insider tip: Kohler Swing Studio Bar. For guests staying at the Inn on Woodlake, the Kohler Swing Studio Bar is the perfect place to end the day with a drink overlooking the lake or taking photos on the Topgolf simulators. Great fun with a group.

Following: Visit the station’s website here.

Pinehurst Resort (Pinehurst, NC)

How to get there: The nearest commercial airport is in Raleigh-Durham, approximately a 90-minute drive from the resort. Charlotte is also just two hours away.

Course: Nine 18-hole courses, a par 3 course and a putting course.

An aerial view of Pinehurst No. 4.

Christian Hafer

Restaurants: New on the property, ranging from a white tablecloth dining room to a casual brasserie and barbeque area.

Why should you go: For many travelers, the number one reason is # 2, Donald Ross’ masterpiece and the centerpiece of the resort that has hosted more elite championships than any course in the United States. United. The story runs deep here. But to say the past is omnipresent doesn’t mean the property is trapped in amber. Updates and new additions abound, from the redesign Gil Hanse of Pinehurst # 4 to the opening of The Cradle, a nifty par 3 course and a putting course called Thistle Dhu. Perhaps more than any resort town in the country, Pinehurst balances sepia-toned tradition with contemporary cool currents.

Insider tip: Whether you take a tee time at # 2 or not, set aside an hour for a drink or bite to the huge porch of The Deuce, which overlooks the 18th green of # 2. It’s the perfect gathering place to relax, recap your ride, and watch the poor souls try to climb up and down to save the peer.

Following: Visit the station’s website here.

Sand Valley Golf Resort (Nekoosa, Wisconsin)

How to get there: Most travelers from out of the region go to Chicago, Milwaukee, or Minneapolis. Of these, Milwaukee is the closest (about 2 1/2 hours) and Chicago is the furthest (about four hours). The trip from Minneapolis takes approximately three hours.

Course: Two 18-hole courses and one 17-hole par-3 course.

An aerial view of Sand Valley in Wisconsin.

Christian Hafer

Restaurants: Four options on the property, ranging from fine farm-to-table cuisine to the food truck, which parks near the Sandbox, the par-3 course.

Why should you go: Picture Bandon Dunes, moved to Badger State. Of course, Sand Valley has no ocean and fewer golf holes. But it is owned by the Keizer family, and its courses, designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, and David McLay Kidd (who also worked at Bandon, respectively), reflect a similar modern-minimalist aesthetic, with an emphasis on the creative ground. fun game.

Insider tip: In addition to its courses, Sand Valley has 15 lawn tennis courts, miles of hiking and biking trails on fat tires, as well as free weight training and stretching classes. It also has a Culinary Garden, a key part of the resort’s premier food and drink program.

Following: Visit the station’s website here.

Streamsong Resort (Bowling Green, FL)

How to get there: The resort is approximately equidistant from the Tampa and Orlando airports. It’s about a 90 minute drive to each.

Course: Three 18-hole courses, one short 7-hole course and a 1.2 acre putting course.

The red course in Streamsong.

Courtesy of Streamsong Resort

Restaurants: Four on the property, plus three bars and lounges.

Why should you go: Evoke all the stereotypes of Florida golf – flat, lush, laden with water – and imagine the opposite. Set amid the vertiginous dunes of a former phosphate mine, Streamsong offers the kind of exhilarating golf that fans expect from Gil Hanse, Tom Doak and the duo of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, the architects, respectively, behind the Black, Blue and red course here. True to its golfing style, the resort requires that you take a caddy and highly recommend walking, although carts are also available.

Insider tip: Can’t find the fairways? The resort offers other targeted activities including archery and sports clays.

Following: Visit the station’s website here.

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A golf, food and travel writer Josh Sens has been a contributor to GOLF Magazine since 2004 and now contributes across all GOLF platforms. His work has been featured in an anthology in The Best American Sportswriting. He is also co-author, with Sammy Hagar, of Are We having Any Fun Yet: the Cooking and Partying Handbook.

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