As National Golf Month comes to a close, the sport has become a go-to activity for many looking to get outdoors and stay active in a safe, socially distant manner.

By Patricia Doherty
August 28, 2020
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Credit: Courtesy of Sea Island

More than 34 million people played golf last year, including 24.3 million who played on a course and another 9.9 million who participated in off-course activities like simulators, Topgolf, or driving ranges. Women represented about 23 percent of on-course golfers, according to data from the National Golf Foundation. Professionals like Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy have become well known sports celebrities who’ve attracted new players to the game.

Golf and travel go together, with a scenic or storied course often providing the impetus for a trip to a faraway destination. A bucket list item for many golfers is a round at St. Andrews in Scotland where golf began, while some choose resorts where ocean views, forested fairways, and après golf luxuries add to the experience. Other golfers travel to vacation spots where they can play on a new course and also work on improving their skills. A few examples of learning facilities are The Kingdom at Reynolds Lake Oconee Kingdom of Golf and the Hualalai Golf Hale at the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai on Hawaii’s Big Island.

Social Distancing, Health, and Golf

Of great importance at this time, golf lends itself to social distancing, and many golfers even enjoy playing alone, walking the course or riding in a golf cart. With a few minor adjustments, it’s possible to enjoy a round and adhere to current health guidelines. Touch points like bunker rakes and flagsticks must be avoided, and modifications to the holes make it easier to prevent touching when retrieving the golf balls. One golfer per golf cart (unless the other is a member of the household) is the rule at most courses. Naturally, being active outdoors in wide-open surroundings is another plus.

Credit: Courtesy of Sea Island

Professional Tournaments Have Changed Too

Professional tournaments, following the cancellation of the March PGA TOUR Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, have been postponed and are now played without spectators, a major change made necessary by COVID-19. The season-long competition for the Wyndham Rewards Top 10 ended recently at Sedgefield Country Club, North Carolina. The U.S. Open, usually played in June, will be held in September at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, New York. Fan favorite, The Masters, always an April event replete with golf tradition, will be played in mid-November in Augusta, Georgia. All would have been exciting destinations for golf travel as they have in previous years.

Plan Your Golf Road Trip

In and near every major city, there are plenty of courses for golfers to choose for their golf vacation. Just toss the clubs in the car and get out on the highway for ultimate convenience. It’s not necessary to be a member of a country club or to pay expensive greens fees. In fact, 76 percent of U.S. golf facilities are open to the public, and many cost under $50 a round, according to the National Golf Foundation. Here are just a few suggestions for a golf vacation, and you’ll easily find many others that fit your budget, skills, and interests.

Massanutten Resort in Massanutten, Virginia, offers two 18-hole courses, tree-lined fairways, a variety of activities and accommodations, and 6,000 acres of mountain scenery.

Seaview, a Dolce Hotel in Galloway, New Jersey, is set on 670 secluded, wooded acres with two 18-hole courses and a fun nine-hole putting course.

Big Cedar Lodge in Ridgedale, Missouri, offers a variety of golf courses including a Jack Nicklaus signature par 3 course, and Payne’s Valley, designed by Tiger Woods.

Casino del Sol in Tucson, Arizona, offers Sewailo, set in the natural Sonoran Desert landscape amid lakes and streams, surrounded by mountains.

Pronghorn Resort in Bend, Oregon, boasts two courses that feature views of the Cascade Mountains, juniper forests, canyons, and ancient lava formations.

Monarch Beach Resort in Dana Point, California, offers a Scottish links-style course set along the Pacific Ocean.

The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colorado, set in the Cheyenne Mountain foothills, offers two courses with mountain vistas, tree-lined fairways, and multi-level greens.

Sea Island Resort on Georgia’s coast offers three scenic courses and an 18-hole putting course designed by Pro David Love III.

Pebble Beach on California’s Monterey Peninsula, on the wish list of many golfers, provides a choice of accommodations and golf at several legendary courses.