For millions of golfers north of the Mason Dixon Line the worst time of year has arrived once again. It's an annual ritual which is difficult to imagine here in Florida, but one that inspires a great deal of pity for my golfing brethren. You see, this time of year they are forced to toss their clubs into storage and replace them with the splintered grip of a snow shovel. Thankfully, there are pockets of snow-free sunshine around the country for golfers to get their fix. For those already in a state of deep withdrawal, here are some of the best winter golf destinations in the United States.
This gem of the Florida panhandle, nestled on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, isn't just a resort but a city unto itself. It also happens to be a golf lovers delight. Sandestin is home to four championship courses, and is the only resort in the world to feature designs by both Rees and Robert Trent Jones Jr. The resort also features numerous options for hotels and condo rentals, and the areas temperate climate keeps the fairways green all winter long.
Mississippi Gulf Coast
While the Mississippi Gulf Coast may not immediately come to mind when planning a winter golf getaway, the area has plenty to offer those looking to hit the links. Signature designs from Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer are just the beginning of the great golf which can be found on the Gulf Coast. Combine that with the famous casinos, and you've got the makings for a perfect winter golf outing with the guys.
Although golf and the casinos make it a great choice for a "guys trip," the Mississippi gulf coast is also an overlooked destination for families. In addition to the white sands of the beaches, the Gulf Coast is home to many family friendly attractions such as NASA's Stennis Space Center and the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies. Plus, there are many family vacation deals to be found as the Gulf Coast continues to work to bring back tourism in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the devastating oil spill.
|Not a bad place to hang out after the round...|
Credit: Hard Rock
The Golden Isles
Along the southeast coast of Georgia there is no shortage of rich history and great golf to go around. The Golden Isles are comprised of Jekyll, St. Simon's, and Sea Island, as well as the historic town of Brunswick. Although real estate is a scarce commodity - mostly thanks to protected marshlands - the area is home to several beautiful resorts and golf courses. The historic King and Prince resort dates to the 1930's and features a challenging Joe Lee design, while the links at the palatial Sea Island Resort plays host to the PGA Tour's McGladrey Classic.
Superheroes and The Mouse might be the main attractions in Orlando, but The City Beautiful is home to perhaps the highest concentration of great golf courses in the country. Names like Fazio, Nicklaus, Norman, and Jones are linked to nearly every course in the area, and most are located at equally spectacular resorts. And with temperatures in the 50's being considered a "cold snap," if you're looking to escape the snow for some time on the links, you'd be hard pressed to find a better destination than Orlando.
|Great shot, Great resort - The Waldorf Astoria Orlando|
Hilton Head, South Carolina
No list of great winter golf destinations would be complete without including Hilton Head. This seaside community blends southern hospitality with a cornucopia of championship golf, making it one of the most popular destinations in the game. There are so many golf courses on Hilton Head Island, it would take nearly a month to play them all at a rate of one per day. That's a whole lot of golf from an island that occupies just 55 square miles of space.
In addition to the cold, the snow, and the general bleakness of winter, the absence of golf for months at a time is enough to send a player over the edge. All is not lost however, given the abundance great golf destinations that make a killing in the winter when much of the country is covered in snow. Of course, this drives the price of golf through the roof for those of us in Florida, but considering my clubs have never been placed into storage, I'll resist the urge to complain.
Enjoy Your Stay