What kind of golf vacation taker are you? How do you approach your trips?
Are you a Charger - the kind of person who wants to jam as much activity (golf included) into a few days as possible?
If so, and you find yourself in a place with a more laid-back, go-with-the-flow attitude, you might get bored or, worse, antsy and impatient.
Or are you a Chiller - do you prefer to go with the flow a bit more and soak in the scenery and the freedom from being on any kind of schedule?
If so, fast-paced destinations where everyone's hell-bent on maximizing every hour of their vacations might only add more stress to what's supposed to be an unwinding period.
The key is to recognize what type of golf vacationer you are.
I know what kind I am, but what are you? Are you a Charger or a Chiller?
Not all golfers are created equal, and neither are all golf resorts and destinations. Here are six of our favorites for each category:
Golf Resorts/Destinations for the Charger:
- Myrtle Beach's sheer size makes it an easy place to go for an all-out golf marathon trip. Groups will regularly play five or six rounds in a long weekend, and one could conceivably draw up an itinerary of two weeks' worth of 36-hole days at 28 different, enjoyable courses. There's a reason it's known as "Golftown, U.S.A."
- In Palm Springs, the golf offerings are vast and given its status as a winter golf destination, chances are you'll be escaping some cold and snow to take advantage by playing as much golf as you can while you're there. The developers of multi-course complexes at PGA WEST, La Quinta, Mission Hills and Desert Willow understand this all too well.
- Pinehurst's maddening roster of golf courses - and not just the nine the resort itself claims - makes it a prime destination for the traveling golfer who wants to play, and play a lot. Three separate 36-hole days we'd recommend: 1) Pinehurst No. 2 and No. 4; 2) Pine Needles and Mid Pines; 3) Dormie Club and Tobacco Road. Besides, there's not a ton else to do in Pinehurst than play golf, so when you're there, might as well take advantage.
- The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail is another Charger's delight, comprising an 11-facility, 26-course feast of affordable golf in Alabama. All but one Trail facility has 36 or more holes (five of them boast 54 holes); we liken them to buffet stations spread state-wide (some 375 miles separate the northernmost Shoals complex from the Trail's Lakewood outpost). To get a "true" taste of the RTJ Trail, you'll end up putting some miles on the odometer.
- Do you prefer your all-you-can-play golf with a side of cacti? Then Phoenix/Scottsdale is yet another Charger's paradise. Multi-course complexes abound here, as well: Talking Stick, We-Ko-Pa, TPC Scottsdale and Greyhawk all have 36 holes, encouraging you to play golf from dawn to dusk without moving your car.
- Bandon Dunes is perhaps the ultimate destination for the all-golf-all-the-time Charger extraordinaire. If you've been there, you know that 36 holes a day isn't an aggressive strategy - it's the norm. And especially in the summer, many groups will putt out on their 36th hole of the day, grab a drink, and head back out for 13 more at the Preserve, and some laughs at the Punchbowl putting course.
Golf Resorts/Destinations for the Chiller:
- Hawaii, in general, is a Chiller's paradise. Sure, you may play a leisurely round each day, but the exhaustion of 36-hole days seems misplaced in Hawaii. A pool, a beach and some tropical drinks are the only items you'll need to have a great time.
- Royal Isabela, on the northwest coast of Puerto Rico, is a luxury paradise where seclusion and privacy rule the day. Rushing around trying to maximize the day's activities would be totally unnatural here. There are a number of potential activities in which to engage, but going for more than one or two in a day would seem to clash with Royal Isabela's raison d'être.
- If relaxation is the main purpose of your vacation, with a side of golf, the Outer Banks may be a great choice. We like Kilmarlic Golf Club and the Currituck Club to sate the golfing appetite, but the beaches of Corolla and Kitty Hawk can be tough to pass up after too long.
- Sedona, Arizona is an ideal desert retreat for Chillers, especially those who enjoy a good pampering. At the acclaimed Enchantment Resort, the Mii Amo Spa is regarded as one of the world's best. And when the urge to enjoy the scenery strikes, resort guests have access to the private Seven Canyons Golf Club, which exposes the player to the stunning rock formations and canyon scenery that make Sedona a sightseer's delight.
- Often overlooked because of the popularity of the many Caribbean locales, Bermuda may be the most tranquil island golf destination accessible from the East Coast of the U.S. Its golf offerings include the stellar Mid Ocean Club, Port Royal Golf Course and Tucker's Point Club, but there's no reason to push the envelope by playing more than one round per day (if that). After all, you're on Island Time.
- To the golfer who is also an oenophile, Napa and Sonoma are pilgrimage areas that happen to include great golf. A strong case can be made for taking in two wine tastings in a day, but more than one round of golf daily - even at attractive courses like the two a Silverado Resort, or the charming nine-hole Aetna Springs course - would set the experience somewhat off-kilter.
What do you think of these mini-lists? Got any other additions you'd like to include? As always, let us know in the comments!