Three great ideas for end-of-summer golf vacations

We're at the beginning of the end of summer, but there's still plenty of time for a golf getaway or two, especially those that are easily accessible by car.

Here are three great ideas (for the East, Midwest, and West) that you may have never considered.

Even if you've finished your summer travels, trust me, you're going to want to keep these beauties in your back pocket for next season.

EAST -- New Hampshire's 17-Mile Coast

A great alternative to often crowded Cape Cod is New Hampshire's 17-mile Atlantic coastline, and a great base along it is Marriott's Wentworth by the Sea Hotel.

This elaborate, grand dame built in the 1870s re-opened nearly a decade ago (after being closed for 21 years) following a splendid restoration. Here, you'll get access to the otherwise private Wentworth by the Sea Country Club, a par-70, 6,300-yard seaside links that also dates back to the 1800s.

Today, the course is primarily a hybrid incorporating holes by Donald Ross from 1921, Geoffrey Cornish from the 1960s, and Brian Silva from the late 1990s. Other worthy courses in the area are Robert Trent Jones, Sr.- designed Portsmouth Country Club and Brian Silva's tree-lined Breakfast Hill Club, each about 15-20 minutes away.

Off the links, you can stroll through the charming town of Portsmouth or take in Millionaire's Row, the collection of lavish summer "cottages" in North Hampton.

MIDWEST - Northern Michigan's Kingsley Club

The well-known golf region of Traverse City in Northern Michigan is home to a superb, but not-so-well-known experience.

Despite being private, the Mike DeVries-designed Kingsley Club invites visits from any golfer who reveres, "the traditions of the game." It also rents out a few comfortable cottages for members and visitors who preview the club.

If you're into golf course architecture, you'll adore the Kingsley Club. DeVries is an Alister MacKenzie devotee who grew up at the nearby, MacKenzie-designed Crystal Downs CC, perennially ranked among the top-15 courses in the US.

In fact, the Kingsley Club was founded by members of Crystal Downs, and depending on the day, you may have an opportunity to play it after you've experienced the Kingsley Club.

It goes without saying, but if the invitation is extended, take it. If it's not, there is still plenty of great golf nearby.

One option is Arcadia Bluffs, one of the top-50 courses in the country. You're also less than two hours away from Forest Dunes Golf Club, one of Tom Weiskopf 's finest creations, or, alternatively, Bay Harbor, a stunning 27-hole Arthur Hills layout on Lake Michigan near Petoskey.

WEST - Colorado's Vail / Beaver Creek

Best known as the ultimate ski destination, Vail offers golfers a pure adrenaline high in summer. Here, you can stand in brilliant sunshine on a promontory tee overlooking the valley and bomb majestically arching drives to emerald fairways a couple hundred feet below.

The Vail-Beaver Creek area offers a joyous party atmosphere with excellent lodging, superb (often al fresco) dining, rousing outdoor adventure activities, and plenty of worthy golf courses.

Leading the way are the Tom Fazio and Greg Norman eighteens at Red Sky Golf Club, a facility that may be the best 36-hole mountain golf experience in the world.

Red Sky is a private club that extends playing privileges to guests staying at elite partner lodging properties, one of which is the highly inviting Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch.

For a full-fledged golf resort, consider the Lodge and Spa at Cordillera, where guests can access courses by Hale Irwin, Jack Nicklaus, and Tom Fazio, as well as a par-three course. Cordillera is also a partner with Red Sky Golf Club

There are obviously dozens more places that would fit the bill as great, end-of-summer getaways. What are your favorites? Please share your comments below.

Craig Better is one of the founding editors of Golf Vacation Insider. In addition to traveling to 15 foreign countries, he has twice traveled across America to play golf courses in all 50 United States. Prior to joining Golf Vacation Insider, Craig was a freelance writer who contributed to GOLF Magazine, Travel + Leisure Golf, Maxim Magazine, USAToday.com, and co-authored Zagat Survey’s book, America’s Top Golf Courses.
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Cordillera is going through some management turmoil. There is only one course open, although I'm not sure which one.

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