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Looking for a winter golf destination? Try these five gems
27 Sep 2019
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The clubhouse at Streamsong (AGC photo)
The clubhouse at Streamsong (AGC photo)

By Shawn Allen

Winter is coming, no, not that winter. That's over, but the chills down your spine are not because cool air is blowing in. It’s the suggestion that you’re going to have to mothball your clubs while you wait out the frigid months. The good news is, we have prepared a list of five golf resorts to visit during the doldrums. Take a look.

Streamsong Golf Resort, Bowling Green, Fla.

By now, you’ve probably heard the story of the old Mosaic Company phosphate mine turned best neo-classical golf design in the U.S. Streamsong Golf Resort offers three courses – Red, Blue, and (the relatively new) Black – designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, Tom Doak, and Gil Hanse, respectively. Each is rated inside the Top 32 Public Courses in the Country by Golf Digest.

Streamsong is the best of rugged, natural Florida landscape combined with high-end design and amenities. The 16,000-acre property includes a modern and luxurious lodge, guided bass fishing, sport shooting, archery, hiking and spa treatments in addition to the golf. It’s best to stay on site because the closest town, Bowling Green, is 15 miles away and has a population of less than 3,000.

Daytime high temperatures top out in the 70s from December to February so it is perfect for a winter respite.

USGA photo

Pinehurst Golf Resort, Pinehurst, N.C.

Originally planned for this exact reason, Pinehurst Golf Resort offers the perfect winter golf experience of upper 50-degree days drenched in crisp pine air.

Pinehurst includes nine (nine!) golf courses, the most famous being No. 2, designed by Donald Ross. The golf world saw it up close last fall as it played host to the U.S. Amateur. Gil Hanse recently redesigned No. 4, which got air time for the first half of the U.S. Amateur final.

If a full 18 (36, 54, or 162) is too intimidating, Pinehurst also recently added the Cradle, a nine-hole short course designed by Hanse with holes ranging from 52-132 yards. There is also a putting course, named Thistle Dhu. There will be golf, no excuses.

Well, maybe some excuses. Pinehurst Village is vast and leisurely. Sure, you’re there for golf, but there are other sports (croquet, lawn bowling, tennis) plus spas, pools, six restaurants and an on-site brewery. You can stay in one of three lodges, the Carolina Hotel, the Holly or the Manor, or there are condos for group lodging. Come for the golf but stay for the elegance and charm.

Talking Stick photo

Talking Stick Golf Resort, Scottsdale, Ariz.

Talking Stick Resort not only moves this list west, it moves the vibe from laid-back elegance to upbeat luxury. Talking Stick is located on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, which means you can bet on the course and in the casino. The hotel is pure luxury and has been awarded the AAA Four Diamond award.

The Golf Club features two modern gems from Coore and Crenshaw, the O’odham and Piipassh. Both are routed through the Sonoran Desert, though each is unique. O’odham utilizes width off the tee and subtle contouring greens, but the trick comes in approaching the hole at the best angle. Piipaash utilizes tree-lined fairways and elevated greens to force accuracy from tee to green.

Do you like winter weather in the low 70s? The resort offers a spa, fitness center, eight restaurants, four lounges, the largest poker room in Arizona, concerts and pool parties. Looks like the temperature isn’t the only thing heating up. Consider leaving the kids home for this one.

USGA photo

Indian Wells Golf Resort, Indian Wells, Calif.

Golfers have sought Southern California’s warm, dry air since the 1950s, when Americans were driving west along empty desert highways in their convertible Chevrolets. Indian Wells is not just a resort, it is Old California glamour realized. Indian Wells has two courses, the Celebrity Course and Players Course. Both have been ranked among the Top 25 Municipal Courses in the U.S. by Golfweek. They are nicknamed the Beauty and the Beast, because the Celebrity is easy on the eyes with its rolling fairways and meandering water features while the Beast rates at 75.3 and with a slope of 139.

As a resort, Indian Wells is a perfect oasis thanks to Southern California’s arid winter climate. From the modern clubhouse that rises out of the desert and stands against the natural beauty of the San Jacinto, Santa Rosa, and San Bernardino mountain ranges to the four lodging options (the Miramonte, Hyatt Regency, Renaissance and Indian Wells Resort) that mix in Spanish architecture with modern features, Indian Wells is a testament to natural beauty and human ingenuity.

Amelia Island Plantation

Amelia Island Plantation, Amelia Island, Fla.

You may not think of North Florida as a winter vacation destination, but Amelia Island Plantation is worth the trip to the northeast corner of the state. Nestled on the barrier island off of Florida’s First Coast, Amelia Island Plantation, an Omni resort, has two championship courses – one designed by Tom Fazio and the other by Pete Dye.

Dye’s Oak Marsh course is reminiscent of Harbour Town Golf Links in the way it works its way through the coastal lowlands of the eastern seaboard. It integrates Florida wetlands and uses crushed shell for cart paths to prevent unnecessary disturbance of the pristine wilderness.

Fazio’s course, Long Point, is the member’s course, but when staying at the Plantation, you receive access to this beauty as well. In traditional Faz fashion, he utilizes the natural habitat – everything from marsh, pine forests, and sand dunes to challenge and inspire golfers.

The Plantation is a sneaky little getaway with all the luxury of a top-tier resort and none of the hustle or bustle.

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