Read an Excerpt
The very fact that you're reading these words shows that, to some degree, you subscribe to the idea that one of life's greatest joys is traveling and playing golf--wherever it may be. We all know that traveling to the British Isles and playing golf is as natural as going to New York City and visiting Central Park, but what about a day of golf while visiting Paris, Seattle, Milan, Chicago, Sydney, or Dallas? In the middle of a week of sightseeing or business, five hours on the links could be just what the doctor ordered--an instant escape to gorgeous scenery, fresh air, mental and physical rejuvenation, and the renewal of the love affair with the game itself. This book will help you do just that, whether it be fitting in a round while in Dallas to see a client or planning your dream two-week golfing expedition to Australia.
The game of golf knows no boundaries. It is played with the same unabashed gusto in the Land of the Midnight Sun, the Land of the Rising Sun, the Land of the Setting Sun, and Down Under. But, of course, not all great golf destinations are located in exotic and far-distant places. Many of the world's best golf facilities are right here close to home. They are in the Arizona desert, all over California, the Pacific Northwest, the Rockies, the Northeast, the Carolinas, Florida, the Midwest--anywhere and everywhere.
Golf Travel's Guide to the World's Greatest Golf Destinations springs from a newsletter we have published since November of 1992--Golf Travel: The Ultimate Guide to Great Golf Getaways. In this exploding world of golf, where new golf courses are being built every day--not only in the United States but all over theworld--and where more and more people are reaching beyond the provincial horizons of their home course in order to explore the magnificent golfing opportunities throughout the world, we saw a clear need to provide accurate, animated, and absolutely honest assessments about the golf travel scene. Like the newsletter it springs from, Golf Travel's Guide to the World's Greatest Golf Destinations is for those golfers who not only want to play the very best courses in the world but who, at the end of the day, also want to savor their round over a fine dinner and a good bottle of wine. Our goal, always, is to help you avoid the mediocre and enjoy the exalted!
This book is about the very best golfing destinations throughout the world. it includes information about the must-see, must-play courses, as well as extremely helpful non-golfing activities that will round out your trip for you and your family. Some of the destinations included here are obvious, such as the Monterey Peninsula, Scottsdale, and Ireland, yet this book also covers places you would not expect, such as an Apache reservation in New Mexico, the Lake Como region of Italy, and the environs of Paris--just to name a few. As you know, Paris has extraordinary cuisine, some of the world's best shopping, the Louvre, Notre-Dame, and the Musée d'Orsay, but, as you may not know, it also happens to have five wondrous, private golf courses that you, as a visitor, can play during the week.
In the four years of compiling information for this book, we have traveled roughly 495,000 air miles and played more than six hundred golf courses. Sure, we came across our share of vastly overrated courses, but the good news is that we also discovered a great many wonderful and truly memorable courses--some virtually unknown and hidden away, while others are hugely famous.
As we take you along on our travels, we offer our candid impressions, frank evaluations, and up-to-date information so that you won't miss a beat at these golfing destinations. The material compiled within these pages will help you plan your trip from beginning to end--from deciding exactly where and when to travel, to how to arrange a tee time on courses that restrict public access, to which courses do and do not accept credit cards, to whether or not to take your meals at the resort's dining room or two miles down the road at that intimate jewel of a dining spot known only to the locals. Each and every review in this book is based upon a completely anonymous visit. We have experienced each destination--its golf courses, hotels, and restaurants--just as you would in your travels. Wherever we have traveled, we have paid full fare, just as you would be expected to do. This is the very best way of insuring that our experience will mirror yours.
This book is intended to be a helpful, user-friendly guide--not a book to be placed on a coffee table but one meant to help you enjoy your every golf trip more. Put it in your suitcase; write in it; earmark the pages. While traveling, you can use this as a reference for the essentials such as phone and fax numbers, addresses, prices, and other pertinent data or simply browse through the historical tidbits and local lore at the breakfast table in your hotel the morning of your first game. There are eighty-three destinations listed here and more than three hundred golf courses reviewed, more than half of which are in the United States and Canada. Our book includes some courses that, although ostensibly private, can be accessed by the public; we will tell you how. And are there some world-class courses not listed here? Sure there are. But we are confident that no other guidebook in publication provides the inside scoop on a broader range of destinations than what we have arranged here for you.
As you read and use this book you will get the very strong sense that we are concerned with much more than just course layout, yardage, and difficulty. The aesthetics and setting of a golf course are equally, if not more, important to us. Appreciating the inherent beauty of a golf course and its surroundings is, for us, one of the great joys of playing the game. Those who make the mistake of focusing solely upon the game--their score, a deteriorating backswing, another lost ball--risk coming away from the golf course exhausted rather than rejuvenated, having missed the grandeur of the scene, the artfulness of the layout, and the pleasure of playing, regardless of how well. At Pebble Beach, for example, we can all either become deeply distraught at having hooked another ball into the domain of a sea otter or we can savor the fresh salt air, observe the sweeping Pacific swells moving across Carmel Bay, and delight in the chorus of barking sea lions amid the breaking waves.
We vividly remember the awe we felt playing Royal Cinque Ports, a true links course along the English Channel, where every single hole offers some view of this brooding, slate-gray, historical body of water where the guns of England faced toward France to ward off Nazi attacks. An incessant, invigorating wind was our constant companion. We recall with equal clarity playing, on the other side of the channel, the sixth hole of the Omaha Beach Course straight out to the cliffs, with the menacing World War II bunkers and the beaches below where so many died in the invasion.
Whether it is the Reynolds Plantation Course with its intriguing land tentacles reaching out to Lake Oconee, or the Pete Dye River Course following the lovely Sheboygan River at Kohler, Wisconsin, or the Jackson Hole Course with the spectacular Grand Teton as a backdrop, the point of playing these glorious courses is missed if all you are concerned about is your performance.
One cannot help but appreciate the poetry and artistry of golf courses. Does this mean that course architects are artists? Without question. Some courses deserve to be hung in the Louvre, while others should be packed away in the attic. Fortunately, golf course architecture is a thriving art. Tom Morris, Donald Ross, Alister Mackenzie, Stanley Thompson, Tom Simpson, and all the other old masters have passed the torch to a current generation of course architects who would make their predecessors proud: Tom Fazio, Pete Dye, Jack Nicklaus, Jay Morrish, and the sons of Robert Trent Jones, the gifted maestro who spans both generations. All of these men have done much that is truly inspired within the last twenty-five years. While playing an absolutely memorable golf course and experiencing an almost spiritual sensation, one can feel the presence of the architect, not unlike walking through a van Gogh exhibit at the National Gallery and feeling the spirit of that crazed Dutch genius.
Everyone loves scoring systems, and we are certainly no exception. In Golf Travel's Guide to the World's Greatest Golf Destinations, we score The Golf, Golf Services, Lodging, Restaurants, and Non-Golf Activities each on a scale of 1 to 20, with a total possible cumulative score of 100 for the destination itself. As you will see, in this book we have given only seven destinations a score of 20 for The Golf--St. Andrews, Pebble Beach, Royal Dornoch in Scotland, the magical courses of Liverpool, Scotland's Cruden Bay, and the wondrous courses of Northern Ireland and Melbourne, Australia. A course receiving a score of 17 is one that a golfer should definitely play if in the area, a course receiving an 18 has great fascination and few faults, and courses earning a score of 19 or 20 are worth making a special trip to experience. Apply the same standards of scoring to the other areas we rate. For a quick reference to all five features according to rank, consult the appendices at the back of the book.
Finally, we would like to make clear that this is not a book written solely for the deadly serious, low handicapper. Rather, this is a book written for people who love the wonder of golf, the opportunity to go and see new places, and the thrill of a glorious walk in some special, new, emerald-green world. Our hope is that you will delight in each of these destinations as much as we have. Bon voyage!
The Boulders: Desert Romance
The Golf: 18
Golf Services: 19
Non-Golf Activities: 18
Total Rating: 91
Golf resorts created in the vast deserts of California and Arizona a generation or more ago were studies in simple contrast: the arid waste of the desert landscape versus the lush greenery of a fully enclosed oasis, an Arabian fantasy with dramatic lakes and waterfalls, transplanted palms to provide the needed shade, and, presumably, Hollywood film stars sunning themselves beside the swimming pool. Far from acting in natural harmony with the existing desert, earlier developers tried to eradicate it. They held the desert as a forbidding, intemperate zone, hospitable to gila monsters, rattlesnakes, and other poisonous life-forms but thoroughly inhospitable to humans.
More recently, our evolving relationship with the desert has changed significantly for the better. Enhanced by an increasing appreciation and understanding of Native American culture, we now see the desert as full of spectacular natural imagery, colorful life, and ancient folkways that must be honored and preserved. This enlightened attitude has gradually paved the way for enlightened desert development, with no better example to be found than the Boulders, built by Rusty Lyon in 1985 in aptly named Carefree, Arizona, about forty-five minutes north of Phoenix.
The Boulders bears about as much resemblance to a typical 1960s-era golf resort in Palm Springs or nearby Scottsdale as a company like Microsoft does to General Motors. The stark, unforgettable contrast between the brilliant green of the irrigated golf courses and the gray-beige of the dry desert floor still remains at the Boulders, but the entire hotel complex has been carefully integrated into the delicate--and shimmering--desert ecosystem. At the Boulders, the desert is almost the main event. It is elevated as a thing of intrinsic value, beauty, and integrity. This radical departure from the old approach accounts for the Boulders' stunning originality--and universal popularity. Environmentally correct golf tracks like this one have enormous upscale appeal and pay handsome cash dividends as well. When you exchange pleasantries with fellow guests on the practice range, for example, they may answer with strong German or French accents. It has not taken long for the Boulders' reputation to sweep the globe.
Our only tiny twinge of foreboding in this desert oasis concerns the extensive amount of new housing construction going on in Carefree, especially that going up along the golf courses. The sound of pounding hammers, cement mixers, and shouting building crews periodically shattered the desert peacefulness of the golf course, meaning that soon Carefree may come to resemble its southern neighbor, Scottsdale. It appears that lots are marked off all along the golf courses, indicating a course of action that could soon mean a drastic change in the visual effect of the Boulders golf experience. That would be a shame indeed. The Carefree developers have received all sorts of environmental accolades for blending their development into the desert surrounding, but now they seem to be at the threshold of destroying this harmonious marriage with excessive development.
The Boulders is one of the best-run small resorts in America. At the time of our first visit, despite many rave reviews received in advance from discriminating friends, we were still unprepared for the real joy we experienced there: its unusual beauty, the disarming friendliness of its staff, and its simply superb golf. Our recent return visit only confirmed that the Boulders is just about perfect on every score.
The Golf: 18
The prince--or poet--of the Arizona desert is the gifted golf course architect Jay Morrish, who designed the Boulders' two enchanting eighteen-hole layouts: the very good North Course and the absolutely mesmerizing South Course. Morrish is equally well known locally as the creator (along with Tom Weiskopf) of the acclaimed courses at Troon Country Club (private) and Troon North (open to the public) in Scottsdale, fifteen minutes to the south.
Reached by telephone at home in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Morrish expressed particular pride in the South Course and told us that the most successful golf courses, in his estimation, are "like good novels that just unfold before you; you just can't put them down until the end." But Morrish is not given to grave literary pronouncements like James Joyce. The "novels" he has written here are more like those in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings cycle. The Boulders courses embody a spirit of playfulness and fun, not solemnity. These are not the kind of golf courses where you put your hand over your heart for the national anthem before your first tee shot. "That's right," Morrish agreed. "It's not Augusta."
What you will find out on the golf course--besides Morrish's obvious artistry and the great care of the Boulders grounds crew--are roadrunners poised silently on the fairways like primitive hieroglyphics, rattlesnake tracks in the deep sand bunkers, fat gila monsters (now that they are a protected species) dozing in rocky crevices, families of quail bustling in the rough, and scores of bunny rabbits munching on the grass. If you are lucky, you'll see at least one bobcat,