It’s no surprise that golf—with its wide-open fairways and socially-distant tee-offs—is booming. Since June 2020, there have been over 50 million rounds played—rebounding from a 42.2% decline to a 6.2% increase over 2019. According to the National Golf Foundation, there’s only been one other year that saw a bigger rise in interest—1997. The year Tiger Woods became a household name.
So, where can you go after you've mastered your local course or country club? Here, we share our top picks (within driving distance) for a world-class game on your next Club vacation.
WE-KO-PA RESORT (SAGUARO COURSE)
Course designers Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw aligned their Saguaro Course fairways toward red-rock monuments the way John Ford framed his actors against them in classic Westerns like Stagecoach. This 15-year-old award-winner has been the chosen site for Golfweek magazine’s annual conference of architecture critics and course raters—high praise, indeed.
Getting There: A 40-minute drive from your vacation residence at The Rocks.
La Jolla, CA
TORREY PINES GOLF COURSE (SOUTH COURSE)
Golf your way around this famous coastal layout and you’ll be joining not just the stars of the PGA Tour (they play their Farmers Insurance event here every January), but the global elite competing this June in the U.S. Open. The South Course’s downhill par-3 third, with the Pacific beside you in panorama, is one no player forgets.
Getting There: Just 10 minutes from your La Jolla residence.
Know Before You Go: California recommends travelers coming from outside the state or country should self-quarantine for 10 days
WOLF CREEK GOLF RESORT
Combine dramatic desert terrain with over-the-top Vegas tendencies and you get the visual showstopper, Wolf Creek. In a mesmerizing hole-after-hole sequence, the course prowls through flat-topped, pyramid-shaped, and mysteriously gnarled rock formations. Even the acoustics are eerily wonderful.
Getting There: Mesquite, NV is approximately an 80-minute drive from the Club’s Vdara residences.
Vail/Beaver Creek, CO
RED SKY RANCH & GOLF CLUB (NORMAN COURSE)
Golf in these mountains will make your drives fly farther and your errant shots bound rather wildly on the tilted terrain. Greg Norman’s design team addressed the latter issue by cutting generously wide fairways at Red Sky. Norman didn’t want golfers hunting down lost balls when they could be savoring Rocky Mountain vistas.
Getting There: A 30-minute drive from Vail and 20 minutes from Beaver Creek.
New York, NY
BETHPAGE STATE PARK (BLACK COURSE)
After returning from a Gotham getaway, brag to your golfing friends that you played Bethpage Black—just don’t tell them you played it from the Red tees. Scorecard yardage from the Reds is 6,223, but trust us: this amazing parkland golf course—site of the two U.S. Opens and PGA Championship—seems to lengthen even as your golf shot flies through the air.
Getting There: The drive to Bethpage State Park from Manhattan is approximately one hour and fifteen minutes.
St Andrews, Scotland
THE OLD COURSE
Andrew, patron saint of Scotland, was the first Apostle, and this sanctified stretch of linksland is his golf equivalent. It will overtake any player’s soul on a first go-round, then reveal its secrets 100 or so rounds later. The British Open Championship was scheduled to shut out vacationing golfers for a fortnight this summer, but a rescheduling due to the pandemic pushes the Old Course’s next Open to 2022.
Getting There: A 10-minute drive from the Eden Club residences at Pittormie Castle.
Know Before You Go: A negative COVID-19 test (NAAT or antigen test) taken within three days of arrival is required for entry into Scotland, and travelers arriving from abroad are required by law to quarantine by self-isolation for 10 days after arrival. Upon arrival into Scotland, at-home COVID testing kits will be given to you and should be taken on days 2 and 8. Currently, the Eden Club residences at Pittormie Castle are closed.
CASA DE CAMPO RESORT (TEETH OF THE DOG COURSE)
This pilgrimage destination for traveling golfers was hand-built by hundreds of local laborers, guided along by a plain-spoken Hoosier savant named Pete Dye. The workers nicked their hands on the sharp coral mantle, calling it “diente de perro,” thus inspiring the layout’s colorful name. Once this oceanside beauty opened in 1971, neither Dye nor Caribbean golf were ever the same again.
Getting There: A one-hour drive from Eden Roc Cap Cana.
Know Before You Go: No COVID-19 test is required. All tourists visiting a hotel/resort will be granted a temporary travel health insurance assistance plan that will include coverage for emergencies, telemedicine, lodging for prolonged stays, and costs for changing flights in the event of an infection. This insurance will be provided at no cost to the visitor until April 30, 2021. All foreign and Dominican passengers entering or leaving the country must complete the electronic entry and exit form, which combines the Traveler’s Health Affidavit, Customs Declaration, and International Embarkation/Disembarkation forms.
Los Cabos, Mexico
PALMILLA GOLF CLUB (OCEAN COURSE)
In a region with a pervasive resort vibe, there’s a nice maturity to these 27 holes of Nicklaus-crafted golf. But that doesn’t mean they lack the inspiring ocean vistas and dramatic land features Los Cabos is famed for. In arranging your round, you’ll likely get to choose two of the three nines—they’re all stout and stunning, but the Ocean nine is tops for drama and scenery.
Getting There: A 20-minute drive from Club residences at Esperanza and Punta Ballena.
Know Before You Go: No COVID-19 test or quarantine is required. An airport/airline health form will be provided to you when traveling internationally to Mexico to fill out basic details about the state of your health and exposure to anyone with COVID-19.
Ready to book your next tee time? Exclusive Resorts partners make getting you and your clubs from your home to your golf destination easy. Members get preferred pricing through Luggage Forward, who eliminates the hassles of carrying and checking your bags with airlines by delivering them directly between your home and destination, worldwide. Additionally, Ship Sticks offers Members a discounted rate on shipping golf clubs: They pick them up directly at your house or golf club and drop them off at your vacation destination.