America’s 12 Best Golf Vacations

Golf may have been invented in Scotland but Americans love the sport. The United States accounts for approximately 45 percent of the golf courses in the world. While golf used to be a “rich man’s” sport, today there are courses that fit every budget. With the emergence of players like Tiger Woods and Annika Sorenstam golf has become popular with people of all ages. Along with the growing popularity of golf, weekend trips and golfing vacations have also become more popular. Couples and groups of friends have found that a golfing vacation is the best way to play some of the best courses and also enjoy a great travel destination at the same time. We have come up with our list of the best golf destinations in America.

12. Palm Springs, California

Palm Springs is a resort destination in the desert. The area became popular around 1900 for its hot springs. In the early part of the 1920’s the Hollywood elite would go there to get away from the crowds, but soon hotels and spas began springing up to serve the clientele. Today Palm Springs is still a spa destination but also offers great golfing. Palm Springs has over 100 public and private courses in the area. Courses are available for all levels of players and budgets. One of the best golf packages is at Indian Wells Golf Resort which has 36 holes and is ranked in the top 20 of “courses you can play” in California by Golfweek magazine. When not golfing you can enjoy the hot springs, shopping, hiking, biking or horseback riding. Great for couples looking to go on a trip, or even just a group of friends.

Photo by: Prayitno via Flickr
Photo by: Prayitno via Flickr

11. San Antonio, Texas

Texas has over a thousand golf courses to choose from. San Antonio makes our list not only for the great courses but the surrounding activities. La Cantera Golf Resort is ranked #2 in “Top Resorts in North America” and among the “top 50 Golf Resorts in the US” by Conde Nast traveler. As the site of PGA events, the resort offers great dining, luxurious rooms and is a good home base for exploring the surrounding area. Sights like the famed San Antonio River Walk and of course, The Alamo are both destinations that need to be on your must see list. Located at the gateway to the Texas Hill Country, San Antonio is a great destination for couples, families or that buddy trip.

Photo by: La Cantera
Photo by: La Cantera

10. Savannah, Georgia

Established in 1733, Savannah is the oldest city in Georgia. Outdoor cafes, gourmet restaurants and River Street along the Savannah River offers visitors a unique experience. The famed 18-hole Savannah Harbor Golf Resort is a Robert Cupp and Sam Snead championship course and is ranked among the top 100 golf courses in the US by Conde Nast Traveler. The Westin offers golf packages from $109 and up. The Westin also has a complimentary water ferry to take you to River Street where you can check out the brew pubs, galleries and great restaurants after a day on the course.

Photo by: Keith Allison
Photo by: Keith Allison

9. Orlando, Florida

Mickey Mouse isn’t the only thing Orlando is known for. Besides the proximity to Disney World, Orlando offers world class golf courses and resorts. Resorts like the Villas of Grand Cypress are close to Disney World, SeaWorld and Universal Orlando. The resort offers exceptional golfing and has hosted such tournaments as the LPGA Tour Championship, World Cup of Golf and Greg Norman’s Shark Shoot-out. The club offers 45-holes of Jack Nicklaus Signature designed golf. With all the great nearby attractions, Orlando rates as a great golf destination for everyone.

Golf Course Florida (2)

8. Napa, California

Located in the Napa wine region, the Silverado Resort and Spa is also home to two championship courses designed by PGA Hall of Famer Johnny Miller. The resort offers several golf packages and also has Junior Golf Summer Camps. The resort also has a world class spa with wellness coaches and even a golf swing therapy session with massage and reflexology treatments.  With over 400 wineries in the region a day tour of wine tasting and sightseeing should be on your list of things to do. Host to the PGA Frys.com tournament, the luxury resort is a great getaway for couples looking to relax, golf and spend time in the wine country.

Silverado Resort and Spa, CA
Photo by: Silverado Resort and Spa

7. Hilton Head, South Carolina

Hilton Head Island off the coast of South Carolina is known for beautiful beaches, exceptional restaurants and world class golf. With over 50 courses to choose from on the island it is hard to make a choice, but one place stands out above the rest. The courses at Sea Pines Resort home to the Heron Point Course by Pete Dye, the Ocean Course and the Harbor Town Golf Links which is a favorite among PGA players has to be the best resort on the island. Located on 5,000 acres the resort hosts the annual PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage tournament. Accommodations range from elegant rooms at the Harbor Town Inn to homes and vacation villas. The resort has vacation packages to suit couples groups and families.

Photo by: Sea Pines Resort
Photo by: Sea Pines Resort

6. Monterey, California

Monterey, located on California’s rugged central coast, is the home of the Pebble Beach Golf Resort. Even people that don’t follow or play the sport have heard of Pebble Beach. Over the years the resort has attracted politicians such as Prime Minister Winston Churchill, President Teddy Roosevelt, golfers like Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Bobby Jones and celebrities the likes of Bill Murray, Bing Crosby and Clint Eastwood. With choices of three distinct accommodations, the Lodge, the Inn and a Mediterranean-styled estate, you can relax in style and also experience one of the best known courses in the world. Five courses to include the famed Pebble Beach Golf Links will test your skills and patience.

Pebble Beach Golf Resort, CA

5. White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia

Don’t be confused that this location is included on our list. White Sulphur Springs is home to The Greenbrier. Since 1778 The Greenbrier Resort has been welcoming guests from all over the world. Listed on the National Historic Register, The Greenbrier has hosted 26 of the nation’s Presidents and has been a favorite of royalty and celebrities. Befitting the status of the Greenbrier be prepared to dress accordingly. Collared shirts and slacks, no denim, are required on the course. With rates ranging from $300 per person and up, this is chance to experience great golf and stay at a historic resort. You never can tell who you might run into.

Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com
Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com

4. Colorado Springs, Colorado

Situated at the base of Pikes Peak, Colorado Springs is also home to the US Air Force Academy. Colorado Springs offers visitors great outdoor activities, such as rock climbing, hiking, horseback riding, sightseeing and of course golf. The Broadmoor was founded in 1918 and at the time had the highest elevation golf course in the United States at 6,400 ft. The resort has three courses and package rates that include accommodations, course fees and meal credits. The resort also has over 20 restaurants and lounges on the property. If you ever decide to venture away from the resort, the nearby area surrounding Colorado Springs offers a lot of things to see and do.

Golf

3. Tucson, Arizona

Located in the Sonoran Desert, Tucson is also the home of the University of Arizona. Historic old Spanish Missions, Hot Air Balloon rides, horseback riding, handcrafted jewelry and souvenirs are all available. The reason we include this on our list is the Omni Tucson National Resort, a host course for the PGA Tucson Conquistadores Classic and past host of the Chrysler Classic. Ranked by PGA pros as one of the most challenging finishing holes on the tour this course will make for a memorable trip. The Catalina course has hosted over 30 PGA tournaments throughout the years while the Tom Lehman designed Sonoran Course features 2 lakes and over 60 bunkers. After spending time on the course exploring Tucson and all it has to offer makes for a great trip.

Photo by: Tucson Golf Estates
Photo by: Tucson Golf Estates

2. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

With close to 100 courses in the greater Myrtle Beach area there is no wonder why it is often called “the Golf Capital of the World”. Depending on the time of year a golf vacation package can cost as low as $60 per day which includes lodging and course fees. When you’re not on the golf course you can enjoy the beach, great shopping or book a fishing charter. Myrtle Beach is a great destination for couples, families or friends alike. With courses like TPC Myrtle beach, awarded five stars by Golf Digest and the Dunes, a Robert Trent Jones signature course; Myrtle Beach has to be on your list of destination.

Myrtle Beach Golf Course

1. Pinehurst, North Carolina

While Myrtle Beach is known as the “Golf Capital of the World” Pinehurst is known as the “Cradle of American Golf”. Pinehurst has a population of less than 15,000 and is home to nothing else but Pinehurst. Since the first cottages were built in 1895, Pinehurst has expanded and grown into one of the most recognized golf courses in the world. In the early 1900’s Donald Ross was commissioned to build the first four courses at Pinehurst. Since then it has grown to nine courses total and has hosted more championships than any other course in the United States. Pinehurst has to be on every avid golfer’s bucket list and is a great trip destination.

Pinehurst Golf Course

10 Day Trips from San Francisco

With the overwhelming number of things to do and see in San Francisco, you could very easily spend your vacation without leaving the city, but these day trips are totally worth prying yourself away for.  Beautiful beach towns, wine country, mountains, and forests are all just a drive away.  As a bonus, the chilly fog that frequently bogs down San Francisco is generally localized; chances are that it’s beautiful inland or down the coast!

1. Sausalito

A mere 20 minute drive across the Golden Gate Bridge, Sausalito is a great way to quickly escape from the city.  If you don’t feel like planning, go to the visitor center and they’ll take you for a tour of the area for $25.  If you’re doing it alone, make sure you check out the Marine Mammal Center, go for a walk on the beach, or take a yoga paddle boarding lesson.  Ice cream, burgers, sushi, and cafés, Sausalito has everything you need to feel like a beach escape.

Sausalito

2. Half Moon Bay

Just down the coast from San Francisco, Half Moon Bay is a quiet getaway from the city.  Local produce, fresh seafood, beautiful beaches, and surfing are just a few of the local attractions.  On a clear day, you can see the crescent shaped inlet and bluffs in the distance that give this local gem its name.  Bring a sweater; it can get windy and foggy.

Half Moon Bay

3. Point Reyes

Across the Golden Gate Bridge and up the coast, you’ll find the cape of Point Reyes.  Home to a beautiful light house that guides boats away from the rocky shore in the fog, this is a part of the world you will want to see.  Check out the visitor centre, the light house, the beach, and the wildlife sanctuaries.  If you have extra time, you could rent a bike or a kayak to further explore this beautiful area.

Point Reyes

4. Muir Woods

Want to see some redwoods?  Pass over the Golden Gate Bridge and through some dizzyingly beautiful landscapes (and windy roads!) to arrive at Muir Woods.  Start early to get a good parking spot, then check out a wooden boardwalk area that showcases some of the history of the forest.  Have more time?  Bring your hiking shoes and venture away from the busy flat area and up into (or over) the hills.  Hike to the top of the mountain for some breathtaking views of the coastline, or all the way down to Stinson Beach for some well deserved ice cream.  Run out of time?  Follow signs for Stinson Beach on a side trip on your way home, you still deserve that ice cream on the beach.

Muir Woods

5. Sonoma

A short hour drive from San Francisco, Sonoma is wine country at its finest.  The smaller, less expensive version of Napa, Sonoma boasts excellent wine, rolling hills, and lots of things to do.  If it’s a beautiful day, rent a bike downtown and bike your way around the local wineries.  The town square in Sonoma is licensed, so grab a bottle from your new favorite winery, grab some local cheese and charcuterie from the square deli, and enjoy a sophisticated, impromptu picnic in Sonoma square.

Sonoma

6. Monterey

Check out this beach town that lies about a 2 hour drive south of San Francisco.  Watch out for whales or even go on a whale watching boat adventure.  The Monterey Bay Aquarium is a state of the art, family-friendly destination that is a hit no matter the weather.  Long walks on the beach and great seafood round out this town.

Monterey

7. Carmel

Like a quiet beach town?  Just south of Monterey, this sleepy town boasts huge expanses of beach without the crowds.  Pack a picnic or hit the local deli and eat lunch on the beach.  Keep your eyes open for whales, dolphins, and sea lions!  If you are a golf fanatic, check out Pebble Beach – one of the world’s most famous golf courses.

Carmel

8. Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz has something for everyone.  This big beach town, located less than an hour and a half from San Francisco, offers surf lessons, an arcade, an amusement park right on the beach, an Arboretum for all the plant lovers out there, and a boardwalk full of fresh seafood and delicious ice cream.  Make sure you look and listen for the sea lions when you’re walking the boardwalk!  Have extra time?  Check out the ‘mystery spot’ near Santa Cruz.  What is the ‘mystery spot’?  You’ll have to find out…

Santa Cruz

9. Big Sur

A 2 and a half hour drive from San Francisco, Big Sur is hands down one of the most phenomenal stretches of beach in California.  This beautiful expanse of rocky outcrops, steep cliffs, waterfalls, and ocean views must be visited.  Check out the beach at Pfeiffer Beach, and bring your hiking boots to visit McWay or Salmon Creek Falls, two local waterfalls.

Big Sur California

10. Lake Tahoe

As long as you don’t mind waking up early and coming home late, you can explore Lake Tahoe as a day Trip.  A 3 and a half hour drive from San Francisco, Lake Tahoe is definitely worth the trip.  Mountains and water mean that no matter the season, there is something to do.  Hit the slopes in the winter, or mountain bike, zip line, golf, and swim in the summer – it doesn’t get any better than this.

Lake Tahoe California