Dad’s Dream Golf Getaway
It may be too late to return the tie this Father's Day, but there's always time to book your duffer the golf getaway of his dreams. Alex Pasquariello scoops on the best places to play and stay around the world
East Lothian, Scotland
Tucked amid the ancient Lothian hills on the outskirts of bonnie Edinburgh, this is the links course of The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, the world’s oldest golf club formed in 1744 and the authors of the game’s original 13 rules. It makes sense, then, that it’s widely regarded as one of the fairest tests of one’s game. There are no blind shots or hidden bunkers on this hallowed course, just a rolling emerald gem laid out in two concentric rings of nine holes that spell out each shot’s risk — and reward. The course returned to the spotlight last summer when Lefty Phil Mickelson won the British Open Championship; the course was lengthened by 158 yards for the event for a 7,192-yard, par-71 round, so bring your driver and keep it low — the winds here are notorious.
STAY Greywalls Chez Roux
Kingdom of Fife, Scotland
Golf was born on the seaside dunes outside the medieval college town of St. Andrews, and scorecards show the game may have been played as early as the mid-15th century. The modern Old Course was shaped by Fife’s own Old Tom Morris, a champion golfer and one of the game’s original greens keepers. The 6,721-yard, par-72 course he left behind plays like angry Scotsman, punishing errant shots in 112 bunkers, all of which are steeped in the game’s mythology. The most revered and cursed of the bunch is the 10-foot-deep Hell Bunker on No. 14, though the Road Hole Bunker guarding the 17th green draws its fair share of swears.
STAY Old Course Hotel
Nary an hour’s drive from Dublin, The Palmer Ryder Cup Course defies golf stereotypes on the Emerald Isle, unfolding over 550 acres of parkland once ruled by heirs of the French wine firm Barton and Guestier (founder Thomas Barton was originally from Cork, Ireland). Arnold Palmer crafted this 7,337-yard, par-72 course in 1991 when the estate was transformed into a golf resort, and it was officially crowned as one of Ireland’s best courses in 2006 when it hosted the vaunted Ryder Cup. The River Liffey wanders through the course, making a mess of multiple holes, most notably the par-4 8th hole where it runs down the left hand side of the fairway. The river comes back into play on the par-5 16th hole where it protects a postage stamp green.
STAY The Kildare Hotel
Northumberland Coast, Nova Scotia, Canada
This Canadian coastal province so resembled golf’s homeland that French settlers dubbed it New Scotland and the title stuck with later British colonists. Course designer Graham Cooke took the coastline’s Old World feel seriously at this 7,258-yard, par-72 course, but also fit in holes highlighting Atlantic Canada’s beautiful forests. The back nine of this 7,258-yard, par-72 course has a distinctive Scottish allure, rolling over a rugged peninsula jutting into the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Where natural dunes would traditionally swallow your ball in Scotland, fields of knee-high fescue threaten every shot at Fox Harb’r. The front nine meander inland, weaving through pristine spruce woods and doglegging around wetlands and lakes. Miss the tee shot on the forest-lined 465-yard par-4 and Dad will be bushwhacking his way to double bogey.
Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, U.S.A.
Of PGA National Resort’s five courses, The Champion is the most famous thanks to the Honda Classic tournament it hosts each spring. But don’t let Dad overlook the brand-spanking-new The Fazio, a reinvention of the resort’s first course. Originally called The Haig, it was designed by George and Tom Fazio in tribute to five-time PGA Walter Hagen. Third-generation designer Tom Fazio II, who literally grew up at PGA National, breathed new life into it with a $100-million renovation. Today The Fazio is a 7,050-yard, par-72 round highlighted by the 365-yard, par-4 15th hole. Three bunkers were removed and the fairway was moved to hug the water — carry that water to get close to the green, or play it safe and drive down the left side for a short iron to the green.
Cap Cana, Dominican Republic
PLAY Punta Espada
The first of three Jack Nicklaus Signature courses at Cap Cana, this golf course opened in November 2006 to raves from pros and duffers alike. The former flock here for the PGA Champions Tour’s Cap Cana Championship, most recently won by legend Fred Couples with a final round 62. Good luck coming within 25 shots of Couples on this course where you’re forced to hit along or over the Caribbean Sea on eight holes; the stunning waters are only a distraction on the remaining 10 holes, each of which feature panoramic water views. The 7,400-yard, par-72 course’s signature swing is the 250-yard, par-3 13th on which Dad is going to have to carry the tee shot over the frothy sea to a green perched on a rocky cliff. He’s going to need a big stick to carry the sea from the tee at No. 17 — the more ocean he bites off, the better the angle of the approach shot to the green.
STAY Sanctuary Cap Cana
Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.A.
PLAY The Wynn Golf Club
With its rolling green fairways lined by forests, brooks and lakes — even a cascading 37-foot waterfall — it’s easy to forget that Wynn Golf Club is right on the Strip. Then you tee up at the 4th to a view of Sin City hovering above the fairway. Most folks will tell you that the 18th, a par four terminating at that aforementioned waterfall, is their favorite hole on this Tom Fazio-designed course, maybe because the brunch crowd on the patio of Chef Carlos Guía’s Country Club makes up an exclusive gallery. Sundays the chef, who made his name in New Orleans kitchens, whips up shrimp and grits (and serves a mean Bloody Mary) at his Cookin’ with Jazz Brunch until 2 p.m., making for a tasty 19th hole.
STAY Wynn Las Vegas
Half Moon Bay, Northern California, U.S.A.
This golf resort set atop a Pacific Ocean bluff channels Scotland in two Links courses, Old Course and Ocean Course. The former is the older of the two, an Arnold Palmer-designed classic opened in 1973 that has hosted numerous U.S. Open qualifiers. The 7,001-yard, par-72 parkland course hits its peak in the middle nine where cypress trees line the fairways and protect rolling greens, and closes with a bang atop the dramatic Pacific cliffs. Dad should go for the hero shot on the 255-yard, par-4 16th; assuming his drive is true, it’s a do-or-die approach over a steep ravine to a shallow green. The signature 18th hole is a feast for all the senses, starting with inspiring ocean views from the tee box and sea breezes that create a strong crosswind. Keep the ball low and to the left to avoid the water and bring your A game on the approach shot: The pin is bracketed by the ocean on one side and the luxe Ritz-Carlton on the other, making for a rather exclusive, sometimes boozy gallery.
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