Summer 2021 is off to an auspicious start.
A high of 112 degrees in Portland and 100 in Seattle? Early wildfire concerns and drought-fueled water restrictions in California? Come on!
Even sun-starved Midwesterners are complaining of hot, sticky temperatures early and often this season. Beating the heat is a regular part of summer life. The first thought is to jump in a pool or ride in a boat, but playing golf can also offer a respite from the sun ... if you know where to play.
The World Top 100 Golf Destinations we selected earlier this year are loaded with 'cool' golf places, both figuratively and literally. If you're ready to travel, we can steer you to where the heat won't ruin your game. You might even end up playing in a pullover and pants. What a cool concept!
The simplest way is to head to the mountains or the coast. There's plenty of great options for both in our list. We've singled out 20: 11 on an ocean and 9 more on top of the world.
Scotland is home to four top 20-caliber links golf destinations. All of them - St. Andrews (No. 1), East Lothian (No. 15), Highlands & Aberdeenshire (No. 18) and Ayrshire & Kintyre (No. 20) - deliver windy and wonderful links golf that may require rain gear and multiple layers, even in the height of July and August. Now if we could just get those darn borders open again post-pandemic... | Browse Scotland Golf Packages
The Emerald Isle
The top golf outposts in Ireland and Northern Ireland - Northwest Ireland & Northern Ireland (No. 3), Southwest Ireland (No. 16) and Dublin (No. 29) - are equally as unpredictable weather-wise as Scotland. I've gone on trips where I've run out of shorts and other visits where my rain gear had to dry out nearly every day. Whatever the forecast, playing links golf is always memorable. | Browse Ireland and Northern Ireland Golf Packages
England can be prone to more heat waves than Scotland and Ireland, but as long as you avoid the big city, any of the destinations we love - London & Kent (No. 31), England's Golf Coast (No. 34) and Southwest England (included in the second 50) - should allow you to savor the breeze on a stout links. | Browse England Golf Packages
Pebble Beach, California (No. 2)
The entire Monterey Peninsula stays cool and mild year-round thanks to a microclimate created by the local marine layer. Even courses off the water like Bayonet & Black Horse, Del Monte or Poppy Hills are fair game in the summer. A few miles inland, however, courses at resorts like Quail Lodge & Club and Carmel Valley Ranch see the temperatures cranked up significantly.
Bandon, Oregon (No. 6)
The recent heat wave aside, America's links golf capital in southwest Oregon should be the perfect place to escape the heat. The hard part is getting here, but the reward is so worth it: Five links right on the ocean and a delightful Coore & Crenshaw design tucked into the forest.
Northern Michigan (No. 8)
Northern Michigan is our only choice not on an ocean, but has Lake Michigan to thank for a cooler climate than much of the Midwest. Four mega resorts with at least 72 holes - Shanty Creek, Treetops, Boyne Highlands and Garland - anchor a deep and talented roster of courses touted as "America's Summer Golf Capital".
Cape Breton, Canada (No. 19)
This tiny little island off the coast of Nova Scotia has taken Canadian golf by force ever since Cabot Links debuted in 2011. In a decade, the former coal mining town has expanded with C&C's Cabot Cliffs and a 10-hole short course called The Nest. Up island is Stanley Thompson's historic Cape Breton Highlands.
San Francisco Bay Area, California (No. 35)
The famous saying, "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco", attributed to Mark Twain refers to "Karl," the name locals have given to the marine layer/fog. He's especially active at the Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay's 36 holes and TPC Harding Park. Once you leave the peninsula, though, to visit Wine Country to the north or San Jose to the south, you'll feel the burn of the Golden State.
Prince Edward Island, Canada (No. 50)
This maritime island throws it back and slows life down a bit. It's loaded with charming seaside towns and more golf courses than you'd think. Order the lobster roll and toss another skipping stone into the waves. Feel your blood pressure dropping ... as long as you don't three-putt too often.
Seattle and the Kitsap Peninsula (second 50)
The good news is new greens has Chambers Bay back in the discussion for future U.S. Opens (up next is the 2022 U.S. Women's Amateur). Crossing the Tacoma Narrows Bridge reveals the Kitsap Peninsula, home of the state's other great muni, the Olympic at Gold Mountain, and a quartet of fine public playgrounds (Trophy Lake, Port Ludlow, White Horse and McCormick Woods).
Vancouver/Vancouver Island (second 50)
Hop the ferry to Victoria to discover the natural beauty and soothing fresh air of Vancouver Island. The harbor is always buzzing with activity, and there's world-class golf nearby - the 36-hole Bear Mountain and Olympic View. Or you can do what I did a few years ago: fly in up island for a more adventurous vibe of fishing and playing golf at Crown Isle, Campbell River and Storey Creek.
Alberta's Canadian Rockies (No. 14)
North America's premier mountain getaway resides north of the border. My first visit driving between the legendary courses and Fairmont hotels of Banff and Jasper, it snowed on us much of the way. In July. No matter the weather, the stunning scenery will stick with you for a lifetime.
Lake Tahoe, California and Nevada (No. 24)
Between the altitude (7,025 feet on the Mountain Course at Incline Village) and the chilly waters of the lake, golfers will have no problem cooling off. Just ask Charles Barkley, who visits every July to compete in the American Century Championship: "Lake Tahoe is the only place that's not hot as hell in the middle of the summer. I have no idea how you all do it every year. I don't care where I'm coming from in the country, it's a heat wave. When I get to Lake Tahoe, the weather is always perfect."
Colorado Rocky Mountains (No. 43)
Last summer, Colorado experienced some of the same wildfire problems as California. Smoke and fire plagued the region. It's certainly a concern again, but on perfect summer days, there's no better place to tee it up than ski resorts like Beaver Creek, Telluride, Sheraton Steamboat Resort, etc., that have gone green for a few months. | Browse Colorado Golf Packages
Whistler (No. 48)
Situated 2,000 feet above sea level, the host of the 2010 Winter Olympics delivers a fivesome of courses juxtaposed against snowy peaks. On the drive up the Sea to Sky highway, stop by Furry Creek, where Happy Gilmore was filmed. The Whistler Golf Club sits in the heart of the ski village, while the Fairmont Chateau Whistler climbs into the rugged forest. Farther flung, Nicklaus North and Big Sky feel like upscale private clubs.
Upstate New York (second 50)
New York's Adirondacks are home to a trio of mountain lakes - Lake Placid, Lake Champlain and Lake George - that also feature a half dozen golf resorts on or near the water in both New York and Vermont. After golf on any of the New York's historic courses at the 36-hole Lake Placid Club, Whiteface Club & Resort, Top of the World, Bluff Point and the Sagamore or Basin Harbor on the Vermont side of Lake Champlain, enjoy a refreshing cool-down on or in the nearest freshwater lake.
Mont Tremblant & Montreal (second 50)
Quebec's premier ski destination transitions into a world-class golf destination in summer. At 875 meters (2,870 feet) elevation, the mountain air of the Laurentians is fresh and refreshing. So is the laid-back vibe. All of the best courses - Le Maitre (a private club accessible through the Fairmont), Le Geant, Le Diable, La Belle and La Bete - are worth your time. Brush up on your French for their English translations (The Master, The Giant, The Devil, The Beauty and The Beast).
Blue Ridge Mountains (second 50)
The Blue Ridge Mountains cover a lot of ground in the eastern United States, but the best golf resides in Virginia, North Carolina and northern Georgia. While many of the mountain towns of North Carolina are anchored by classic private clubs, Asheville provides a pocket of public golf with the Omni Grove Park Inn, the Asheville Municipal Golf Course and Mount Mitchell (in nearby Burnsville). Virginia counters with two-five star resorts, both historic (The Homestead) and modern (Primland).
Interior British Columbia (second 50)
Four different mountain ranges collide to form the rugged terrain western Canada is known for. It's these dramatic settings that house some of the most beautiful golf courses in the world - notably Tobiano in Kamloops and Greywolf on the edge of the Canadian Rockies. The region's wineries in Kamloops and the Okanagan Valley provide the sipping sauce of summer.
Maine (second 50)
Maine delivers the best of both worlds - mountains tall enough to train future U.S. Olympic skiers and cooling breezes off the Atlantic Ocean. The signature experiences are Samoset on the ocean and Sugarloaf in the Carrabasset Valley. Both are wildly scenic and fun resort playgrounds.