Golf Vacations Are Rising in Popularity — and These Destinations Have It All, On and Off the Course

Whether you picked up a club for the first time during COVID or you've been golfing for decades, if a golf vacation is on your list, we have some ideas for you.

If you played golf for the first time in 2020 or added a few rounds to your usual annual outings, you're part of a growing trend. While COVID limited many of our activities, golf's inherent social distancing and outdoor setting provided an outlet for homebound players and attracted new golfers as well. Market research firm Golf Datatech LLC reported that total rounds played in the U.S. in 2020 were up 13.9% over 2019 and up 37% in December 2020 compared to December 2019. Adjustments like eliminating touch points around the hole, removing bunker rakes, and limiting carts to only one golfer helped improve safety without significantly changing the game. Remote work and flexible schedules may have also created more opportunities for golf at local courses.

Wildfire Gold Club in Phoenix, Arizona
Courtesy of JW Marriott

Golf resorts requiring air travel did not benefit as much as hometown courses, but now that travel is opening up with inflight health measures and vaccines, it's time to think about a golf vacation. If the golf bug has bitten and your goal is to improve your skills, we have destinations where you'll have expert advice, state-of-the art practice facilities, and lots of fun while you play on spectacular courses and shave strokes off your score. In addition, we have suggestions for resorts with golf courses you'll enjoy for their scenery, surroundings, and aprés golf amenities.

For Lessons and Practice in Idyllic Settings

Golf Hale at Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
Courtesy of Four Seasons

Golf Hale at Four Seasons Resort Hualalai: Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

This new state-of-the-art facility featuring the latest technology is ideal for beginners, experts, and everyone in between. The TrackMan indoor golf simulator provides detailed data for swing improvement. TrackMan Range, for distance control, offers interactive games and enjoyable practice. "Foresight," "Gears," and "SAM Puttlab" are additional tools designed to improve every part of your game. Combining practice and entertainment, Hawaii's first TopGolf® Swing Suite® boasts the newest full swing simulator technology in a relaxed, modern lounge setting.

Put your skills to the test on the resort's Jack Nicklaus-signature course with lush fairways and oceanfront holes. Relax on the beach, poolside, or with a sunset cocktail before adjourning to your newly renovated guest room or suite.

The Kingdom at Reynolds Lake Oconee: Greensboro, Georgia

The Kingdom features six championship courses, private lessons, and several programs designed to help every golfer improve. The "Energize" provides two half-day workshops to rejuvenate your game with instruction in the morning and golf in the afternoon. The "Tour Experience" includes morning lessons and afternoon nine-hole on-course instruction, and "Scoring School" focuses on putting and the short game. TaylorMade club fitters offer one-on-one consultations to match your personal swing to the proper equipment, crafting your new custom club on-site in the TaylorMade Tour Trailer.

Stay in luxury at the Ritz-Carlton Reynolds Lake Oconee in a guest room, suite, or cottage by the lake where you can relax and enjoy your surroundings after a day of golf.

For a Perfect Golf Vacation

Big Cedar Lodge gold course in Branson, MO
William Watt/Courtesy of Big Cedar Lodge

Wildfire Golf Club: Phoenix, Arizona

Located at the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa, Wildfire Golf Club features two championship courses, the Palmer Signature Course and the Faldo Championship course, designed by golf greats Arnold Palmer and Nick Faldo.

Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach: Dana Point, California

Designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr., the Monarch Beach Golf Links course boasts striking scenery, firm greens, and tight fairways. Visitors to the elegant oceanfront resort can take a guided tour of the course on a GolfBoard or Phat Scooter.

CordeValle: San Martin, California

In the foothills of northern California's Santa Cruz Mountains, this luxury resort features a championship golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. Views of canyons, meadows, creeks, and the natural landscape enhance each hole.

Ojai Valley Inn: Ojai, California

The world-class Ojai Country Club course, one of Southern California's first great courses, features lush tree-lined fairways, rolling hills, and mountain views. The luxurious Inn is set among 220 acres in a picturesque coastal valley.

Park Hyatt Aviara: Carlsbad, California

Set on more than 200 acres along the Pacific, the resort's October 2020 major renovations included the addition of Topgolf Swing Suites. Aviara Golf Club, California's only coastal designed Arnold Palmer signature golf course, is the home of the LPGA Kia Classic golf tournament.

Big Cedar Lodge: Branson, Missouri

Choose from five courses at the 4,600-acre wilderness resort. Courses include the 18-hole Ozarks National and the new Payne's Valley, designed by Tiger Woods, honoring World Golf Hall of Fame member Payne Stewart.

Kukui'ula: Koloa, Kauai, Hawaii

This expansive resort on Kauai's south shore features a Tom Weiskopf-designed 18-hole course with dramatic ocean views, practice greens, lessons, golf boards, and carts.

Timbers Kauai Ocean Club & Residences: Kauai, Hawaii

The award-winning Ocean Course at the luxury resort is the only Jack Nicklaus-designed course on Kauai. The course features the longest stretch of continuous oceanfront golf in all of Hawaii.

Mayakoba: Riviera Maya, Mexico

Play the El Camaleón Greg Norman-designed course, set in diverse ecosystems including mangroves and tropical jungle. Stay in luxury at the Rosewood Mayakoba, Banyan Tree Mayakoba, Andaz Mayakoba, or Fairmont Mayakoba.

Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Puerto Rico Golf & Beach Resort: Rio Grande, Puerto Rico

The 500-acre resort, with views of the Atlantic Ocean and El Yunque Rainforest, offers two 18-hole championship courses: the River Course designed by Greg Norman and the Ocean Course designed by golf course architects Tom and George Fazio.

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