Ranked among the “Top 75 Golf Resorts in North America” by Golf Digest, PGA Golf Club is home to four breathtaking golf courses offering truly unique experiences.
Start with the Wanamaker Course, named in honor of Rodman Wanamaker who inspired the birth of the PGA of America 100 years ago. Widely considered as one of the most picturesque layouts in Florida, legendary architect Tom Fazio designed a course that blends seamlessly into its natural surroundings. Fairways routed around wetlands, over gentle hills and through native palmetto and sabal palms make for an unforgettable round of golf, while large bunkers guarding greens provide a risk-reward element that’s hard to find anywhere else in the Sunshine State.
Then there is the Dye Course, which features some of the most elaborate bunkers east of the Mississippi. Designed by the mastermind himself, Pete Dye, and ranked in Florida’s top 20, it’s as beautiful as it is challenging. Deep pot bunkers, vast coquina waste areas and devilish greens treat guests to a wildly entertaining round of golf. Boredom isn’t in the bouquet for the Dye Course.
Named after Samuel Ryder, the namesake and founder of the Ryder Cup, the Ryder Course recently reopened after a renovation. The layout meanders over rolling hills and through majestic pine trees. Several lakes and ponds line fairways and guard greens, requiring golfers to be sharp on tee shots and approaches. But rest easy, large landing areas make it a treat to play for all skill levels. Just off site but just as good, the St. Lucie Trail Golf Club was recently opened to the public following an 18-month revitalization project led by 2016 TurfNet Superintendent of the Year Dick Gray, a protégé of Dye. A true back-to-nature oasis, the charming layout is Florida golf at its purest.
Springtime is the best time to visit PGA Golf Club. Not only is it a short drive from the Spring Training home of the New York Mets, stay-and-play rates are reasonable. Three-night and three-round rates start at $691 in February and March, but considerably drop in April. www.pgavillage.com, 800-800-4653
Located on Hawaii’s, “Garden Isle” of Kauai the golf courses at Puakea and Wailua are favorites among travelers and locals alike. These standalone daily fee courses are appreciated for their well-regarded layouts, impressive vistas, and great rates.
Wailua has hosted three United States Golf Association championships and is recognized as one of the best municipal courses in America, tracing its origin back to the “Golden Age of Golf Course Architecture” (1900-1930). Coconut trees and Pacific Ocean views proliferate at Wailua, with numerous beachside holes providing unobstructed views of the peaceful coastline.
Non-residents are privy to one of the best values in golf at just $48 on weekdays and $60 on weekends.
Puakea rests at the base of Mount Haupu, the towering head to a mountain range that formed the backdrop of several Jurassic Park scenes. The best vantage point of these Hollywood-worthy views is from the par-3 sixth hole, which drops 160 feet to a jungle-surrounding green. Magestic Puakea was devised by Robin Nelson, a celebrated golf architect who did many designs and re-designs of one-third of Hawaii’s roughly 95 courses. Nearly a decade after Hurricane Iniki stalled construction, Nelson revised the original 10 holes to build the remaining eight.
Managed by Billy Casper Golf, the pricing value of Puakea is their 11 a.m. visitor special for just $65, available daily. www.gogolfkauai.com, 808-240-3251
Located just outside of Richmond, Magnolia Green Golf Club remains one of the top-valued courses in Virginia. The 18-hole course, situated as the centerpiece of the Magnolia Green community, features vast Bermuda-grass fairways with rolling terrain and challenging elevation fluxes. Designed by the Nicklaus Design Team and Tom Clark, Magnolia Green is open year-round and offers challenges and opportunities for golfers of any skill.
In recent months, the community has opened its new golf clubhouse, featuring a well-stocked pro shop, full bar and restaurant named The Grille. The Grille offers a casual dining experience for golf club members, residents of the community and guests from all over the Richmond-area. In addition, Magnolia Green just opened its new golf instruction facility, which offers year-round training featuring the latest in golf swing technology. www.magnoliagreengolfclub.com, 804-639-5701
A convenient drive from Seattle and Tacoma, Salish Cliffs Golf Club rests on the scenic southern tip of the Puget Sound. With emerald green bent grass stretching tee to green, rough borders of pure ryegrass and panoramic valley views, Salish Cliffs is a visual thrill. Privacy abounds with 16 of 18 holes encircled in lush forest. Hole nos. 9 and No. 18 share an expansive 15,000-square-foot double green separated by a sparkling lake and wetland preserve. The course beauty has a lulling effect, while the expert layout and thrilling challenges invigorate the senses.
Salish Cliffs was named Golf Digest’s second-best course in Western Washington in 2017. Just 45 minutes from 2015 U.S. Open venue Chambers Bay, traveling golfers should pair these two trophy courses together. While close in geographic proximity, they present completely different playing experiences, residing on opposite ends of the design and terrain spectrums.
A round at Salish Cliffs costs almost three times less than just one at Chambers Bay. Hence, many visiting golfers stay at Little Creek Casino Resort – an amenity-rich resort, of which Salish Cliffs is one, that unveiled newly remodeled hotel tower rooms last fall – and play 2-3 rounds at here to one at Chambers Bay ($275 greens fee for non-residents). www.salish-cliffs.com, 360-462-3673
5) West Virginia
Spread across 1,700 acres of Oglebay Park in the scenic foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in Wheeling, W.V., Oglebay features two superb layouts at its Speidel Golf Club that are all the golf you’ll ever want. The par-71 Arnold Palmer design is a links-style course that takes advantage of the gorgeous, undulating countryside. Strategically-placed bunkers, well-designed mounding flanking the roomy fairways and excellent sloped greens claim your full attention. It deserves high marks in every category: diversity of holes, scenery, playability and challenge.
Designed by Robert Trent Jones, Sr., the Jones Course was home to the West Virginia LPGA Classic for 11 years. The land on which the course sits transverses the higher ground away from the welcoming clubhouse as it rolls over the hills and dales of a former dairy farm. There’s a delightful “away from the hustle and bustle” ambience as birds frolic playfully throughout the trees and wild turkeys roam the grounds.
Don’t miss the Birdie Package that includes: one round on the Arnold Palmer Course, one round on the Robert Trent Jones Course, one-night lodging at Wilson Lodge and a mountaineer buffet breakfast. From March 25 – April 15, the package is an unbeatable $129. After April 15, the price increases to $149. www.oglebaygolf.com, 304-243-4050
By JD Latorre