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Golf Vacations: Experts Weigh In On Choosing the Perfect Destination

Sep 4, 2013

Golf is hardly a spectator sport. The faithful would argue it's a lifestyle, and that certainly spills over into travel. Ed Ekis, a Golf Professional at Golf Academy of America in Phoenix, said that when vacationing, golf takes on a whole new light. "It is not about the challenge of your score and winning. It is about the shot presented, your personal reward for executing that shot, sharing it with your friends or family and cheering for them when they do the same."

But with so many golf destinations around the world, narrowing down a vacation spot can be difficult. Ekis' personal criteria include, "Fresh mountain air, crystal blue skies, ambience that creates peacefulness and relaxation."

We asked our staff of golf experts to weigh in on their favorite golf vacation destinations. Here's what they told us:

John Shelley, PGA
Golf Instructor at Golf Academy of America in Dallas
Vacation Pick: Bandon Dunes, Oregon

Here, it's all about the view. This collection of five distinct courses is built on sand dunes sitting 100 feet above the Pacific Ocean. Open meadows, forests, dunes and sweeping ocean views create an incredible golf environment.

Shelley says that Bandon Dunes is very secluded, so outside of good food and drink, it is a golf only trip. "The courses do not have cart paths; they are walking only," he said.
"You may hire a caddy which adds to the expense—about $100 with tip—but it's the ultimate way to max out your whole experience."

He went on a guy's trip last October, "Which gave us three days of beautiful cool sunshine and one of cold misty 'British Open' type weather, which only made it better."

Rich Iorio
Campus Director at Golf Academy of America in San Diego
Vacation Pick: Edinburgh, Scotland

Playing the courses in Scotland, the birthplace of the game, is a pilgrimage for golfers worldwide. The Old Course at St. Andrews dates before 1574, and there are 67 courses in Edinburgh alone. Golf is deeply imbedded in the local lifestyle, and residents take their game very seriously, even when telling tales of their day's adventures at the local pubs.

According to Iorio, activity in Edinburgh focuses on playing 36 holes of golf daily. The courses are flat, the caddies are plentiful and wind dictates the flow of the game, changing the way a course plays by the hour. Carnoustie was among his favorite sites.

Sean Ferris, PGA
Golf Professional at Golf Academy of America in Phoenix
Vacation Pick: Northern Michigan

During the summer months, the area around Traverse City is set against a backdrop of picturesque woods, lakes and hills. The days are long, with light stretching until almost 10 p.m. There are neighboring cherry farms, wineries and plenty of outdoor recreation, so anyone in your party who doesn't play golf will have plenty to fill their days.

Ferris recommends The Grand Traverse Resort as the perfect place to start your vacation. It has two courses including one of the best in Michigan--the Jack Nicklaus Signature Bear Course. Nearby resorts Boyne Highlands, Boyne Mountain, Treetops Resort, and Garland offer so many courses you'll want to play 36 holes a day. Ferris dubs Traverse City a "great place to spend a week in the summer just playing golf."

As you can see from our course picks, it's no wonder avid golfers often choose a vacation destination that lands them near top greens. Courses are often part of top quality resorts, making the travel fun for the whole family. Ekis sums it up by saying, "Life is all about doing things that you love to do while creating happy, fond memories that stand the test of time. It is not about any particular golf course as much as it is about what you can take away from the experience that soothes the soul." Happy golfing!