From Palm Springs to Pinehurst to the Dominican Republic, some of the world's finest golf resorts offer hugely discounted off-season deals in the dog days of July and August, and in some cases into early fall. True, summer temperatures in these places can soar into the nineties and beyond. But if you book tee times in the early morning and late afternoon, you can avoid the worst of the heat. And after golf you can cool off by plunging into luxurious pools, dining in superb restaurants and unwinding in exquisite lodgings—at less than half the cost of a high-season stay. Here are some of our favorite summer bargains.
La Quinta Resort & Club
La Quinta, CA 800-598-3828; laquintaresort.com
DESCRIPTION A classic of the Coachella Valley, La Quinta offers superb dining,
spa services and tennis (including several grass courts) as well as the best access to the
three courses at nearby PGA West and two of its own.
THE DEAL Summer room rates from as low as $190 (compared with $455 in peak season), combined with weekday greens fees of $70 at PGA West ($235 peak) and $40 on La Quinta's Dunes course ($145 peak). The Mountain course is closed for renovations until September.
PLAYING There's a fistful of courses to choose from, including the desert's one must-play: Pete Dye's much-feared Stadium course at PGA West, a ten-minute shuttle ride away. The seventeenth hole's rock-fringed island green (known as Alcatraz) is even smaller than it looks.
DINING Elegantly cool Azur offers gourmet food and trappings to match. Also try the colorful Mexican cuisine and decor at the Adobe Grill.
OTHER ACTIVITIES If the resort's forty-one swimming pools don't make a splash with you, indulge in the "celestial shower" at the Spa La Quinta.
The Boulders Resort & Golden Door Spa
Carefree, AZ; 866-397-6520; theboulders.com
DESCRIPTION The resort sits amid tall saguaro cacti and gigantic ancient
rocks—an awesome desert landscape that burnishes lasting memories. It's a half hour
north of Phoenix and higher in elevation, making it slightly cooler.
THE DEAL Through September, the Unlimited Golf Package includes lodging; one round per person each day plus unlimited replay; $50 daily food and beverage credit; and access to the Golden Door Spa. From $389 per night for two people (versus $799 in peak season).
PLAYING Jay Morrish sculpted two superb courses from these prehistoric rocks, cactus-covered slopes and desert washes. While some golfers say the North is stronger, the South has more spectacular holes, beginning with the par-four first, whose green lies at the base of a six-story boulder.
DINING The Boulders' flagship restaurant, Latilla, features regionally accented organic food and an alluring Southwestern ambience.
OTHER ACTIVITIES The 33,000-square-foot spa will rejuvenate you with its "golfer's massage"—or just dive into one of the resort's four pools.
Barton Creek Resort & Spa
Austin, TX; 800-336-6158; bartoncreek.com
DESCRIPTION In Texas hill country ten minutes west of Austin, the state's
premier golf resort has four excellent courses—two by Tom Fazio and one each by Arnold
Palmer and Bill Coore/Ben Crenshaw—and a first-rate spa.
THE DEAL Through September 3, rooms from $120 per person, based on double occupancy (compared with peak rates of $170). Greens fees: $70$135 weekdays, $110$185 weekends (versus $90$180 and $130$240 during peak season).
PLAYING Fazio's Foothills layout romps through cliff-lined fairways and over a canyon and, at the par-five eighteenth, a limestone cave; his Canyons course is also quite good. The Coore/Crenshaw design presents a subtler challenge, while the Palmer course is a big-hitter's bonanza.
DINING The lovely Hill Country Dining Room overlooks the pool and the Foothills course. In town, hit Threadgill's (512-451-5440) for classic Austin character.
OTHER ACTIVITIES For a postround cooldown, sign up for water aerobics at the spa or choose an old-fashioned plunge into the huge main pool, which sits in a natural rock setting.
Pinehurst, NC 800-487-4653; pinehurst.com
DESCRIPTION This charming, historic resort in the Sandhills of North Carolina
offers eight courses, including Donald Ross's famed No. 2. It also has a terrific spa and
a state-of-the-art golf fitness center.
THE DEAL Pinehurst's Summer Tee deal, through September 6, offers a two-night stay with the third night free. From $892 per person, double occupancy (as opposed to $1,614 in spring and fall). Breakfast and dinner daily, plus one round of golf per day (No. 2 costs $150 extra).
PLAYING Plenty of veteran caddies are around to help you negotiate the No. 2 course, one of the fiercest tests of iron play, chipping and putting anywhere. The next best options are Tom Fazio's Nos. 4 and 8, while the No. 7 course, by Rees Jones, might be the stiffest challenge of all.
DINING The bountiful breakfast buffet at Pinehurst's Carolina Dining Room is legendary. For dinner, head back to the Carolina or try the upscale 1895 Grille.
OTHER ACTIVITIES The resort's new activity center on the West Lawn has three pools. You can sail, kayak, fish and swim at Pinehurst Beach Club, located on a private freshwater lake.
PGA National Resort & Spa
Palm Beach Gardens, FL; 800-633-9150; pga-resorts.com
DESCRIPTION A megaresort, PGA National is home to five courses as well as the headquarters of the PGA of America, nine pools, a lake, a first-rate spa and what may be the largest croquet complex in the Western Hemisphere.
THE DEAL Through September, the Platinum Golf Package offers a deluxe room with private balcony or terrace, full breakfast, unlimited golf and access to the Health & Racquet Club for daily rates starting at $189 per person, double occupancy (compared with $420 in high season).
PLAYING Four of the courses are fairly typical Florida layouts. The fifth, the Tom Faziodesigned Champion, is a memorable test with narrow fairways, undulating greens and lots of water. A former PGA Championship and Ryder Cup site, it will begin hosting the Honda Classic next year.
DINING Don't miss Shula's Steak House, part of the chain owned by former Dolphins coach Don Shula. Lighter fare is available next door at the Bear Trap Bar & Grille.
OTHER ACTIVITIES Nine pools are scattered throughout the grounds, including a Romanesque Jacuzzi, a five-lane lap pool and the Waters of the World mineral pools at the spa.
Casa de Campo
La Romana, Dominican Republic; 809-523-3333; casadecampo.cc
DESCRIPTION One of the best resorts in the Caribbean, Casa de Campo boasts Pete Dye's superlative Teeth of the Dog plus two other fine courses, along with great restaurants and a private beach.
THE DEAL Summer rooms from $224 (versus $429 peak). Golf supplement packages, through October 15, include alternating rounds on available courses and unlimited practice balls. $186 per person for three days ($372 peak), and $372 for a week ($744 peak).
PLAYING Dye returned last year to the Teeth of the Dog, one of his favorite works, and built new tees, greens and bunkers and added 475 yards—you'll never forget the seven holes that practically melt into the Caribbean. His Dye Fore and Links courses are also damn good.
DINING El Sombrero serves savory Mexican food and great frozen margaritas. El Pescador has light but satisfying seafood and salads.
OTHER ACTIVITIES The small, private Minitas Beach is less than ten minutes away. There's also a lovely pool with a cascade and a swim-up bar, as well as full-day snorkeling excursions.