Golf with a Southern Drawl
Southern culture is a tapestry comprised of culinary delights, enchanting accents and a charming disposition. Woven deep into that tapestry, somewhere between shrimp and grits and the prose of Mark Twain, is golf. While it was developed in The Highlands of Scotland, the shepherds who first put stick to ball must’ve had a Southern sense of virtue when they created a game in which honor is as important as score. In an increasingly homogenous golf world, there are still courses where details matter and the service is as sugary sweet as the tea. Below is a list of premier Southern golf experiences.
The Sea Pines Resort (Hilton Head Island, South Carolina)
The Sea Pines Resort is steeped in Southern tradition and blessed with lovely Lowcountry landscapes. The legendary destination and its flagship course, Harbour Town Golf Links, are two of the most iconic names in golf travel having welcomed the world’s best players and thousands of fans for over 40 years at The Heritage, one of the most distinguished events on the PGA TOUR schedule. Sea Pines also boasts two additional championship layouts: Heron Point by Pete Dye and The Ocean Course.
The Old American (The Colony, Texas)
Even though Texas is part of the South, the Lone Star State plays by its own rules. So, it shouldn’t be any surprise that, during a time when few golf courses are opening, one of the best new courses in the country comes from the land of belt buckles and brisket. Acclaimed architect Tripp Davis and PGA TOUR star Justin Leonard teamed up to design The Old American Golf Club. The course, located just north of Dallas in The Colony, is a tribute to American classics built during The Golden Age of golf course architecture (1911-1937). True to Texas’ “bigger is better” bravado, The Old American stretches out to more than 7,000 yards from the back tees. www.theoldamericangolfclub.com; 972.370.4653
Golf Gulf Shores (Gulf Shores, Alabama)
Gulf Shores, Alabama – whose Golf Gulf Shores concern promotes the 32-mile-long waterfront destination and its custom golf packages for its nine golf and countless lodging partners – is about as Deep South as destinations come. Golfers can expect the red-carpet treatment – whether it be a Southern party atmosphere throughout the long fall football season deep in SEC Country or apples and cold towels on the tees of the four Honours Golf-owned courses. Visits often combine a Gulf Shores trip with a visit to favorite local haunts like Lulu’s, where the local fresh Gulf Red Snapper Sandwich is always on the menu, along with L.A. (Lower Alabama) Caviar.
PGA National Resort & Spa (Palm Beach Gardens, Florida)
PGA National Resort & Spa offers 90 holes of championship golf on five courses, including the famed Champion course, home to the PGA TOUR’s Honda Classic. The resort’s storied golf history includes hosting the 1983 Ryder Cup, 1987 PGA Championship, and nearly two decades of the Senior PGA Championship. In addition to The Champion, PGA National’s award-winning golf courses are: The Palmer, The Haig, The Squire and The Estates. It’s the jewel of the South Florida golf scene.
WaterColor Inn & Resort (Santa Rosa Beach, Florida)
Located along the white sandy dunes of the Gulf of Mexico is WaterColor Inn & Resort, Northwest Florida’s only AAA Four Diamond-rated hotel. The resort’s golf collection features three of the region’s most unique and diverse layouts, ensuring Southern hospitality for golfers of all ages and abilities. Camp Creek, a Tom Fazio course with an eye-popping slope of 152, is a true player’s course. Shark’s Tooth, a Greg Norman design, is a private club to which guests of the resort have access. Perhaps the resort’s most unique golf offering is Origins Golf Club. The Davis Love III design plays as a six-hole regulation course, nine-hole executive course or 10-hole par-3 course between 1,600 and 1,800 yards. It’s designed to encourage junior golfers, beginners and families to play together. As a whole, WaterColor’s menagerie of golf options blend into a uniquely Southern golf cocktail, offering breathtaking views, best-in-class service and a ubiquitous family atmosphere.
Farmlinks Golf Club at Pursell Farms (Sylacauga, Alabama)
FarmLinks Golf Club at Pursell Farms, in Sylacauga, Alabama, is uniquely Southern, highlighted by its incredible hospitality and garden-to-table dining experience – not to mention the boutique resort is in pristine countryside, 50 miles from Birmingham. Customer service and attention to detail are what seem to stick most in the minds of guests, despite the fact FarmLinks has the state’s top-ranked public golf course, as well as world-famous meeting facilities, trap-shooting, fishing, in-room spa service by appointment, and upscale lodging options. FarmLinks’ new, one-acre, farm-fresh garden produces a wide array home-grown vegetables that New Executive Chef Aaron Saturday uses to create fresh, down-home country meals for golf and resort guests.
Dancing Rabbit Golf Club (Choctaw, Mississippi)
Dancing Rabbit Golf Club is known for its Oaks and Azaleas courses that combine to provide 36 dramatic holes of world-class golf. But it’s the majestic Dancing Rabbit clubhouse that makes this truly unique resort overflow with the spirit of the South. Designed by Dick Diedrich, AIA, Historical Replications, Dancing Rabbit’s plantation-style clubhouse treats guests to some of the finest amenities in the golf world. Eight lavish guest rooms complete with king-size beds and whirlpool baths overlook the golf facility and offer access to the second floor veranda, a perfect spot for an early morning coffee or post-round beverage. During their stay, guests receive their own personal golf cart – complete with head lights – that enable them to navigate the property at their own will and take advantage of the nearby Golden Moon Casino Hotel and Silver Star Casino Hotel and their long list of amenities.
Mystical Golf (Myrtle Beach, South Carolina)
Mystical Golf’s trifecta of Myrtle Beach courses – The Witch, Man-O-War and The Wizard – are the top “golf buddy” destination in the South. Why? The three diverse designs are flat-out superb; the maintenance country club good; and the price is off-the-charts reasonable – especially the stay-and-play packages. Designed by celebrated architect Dan Maples, the courses are rated all from 4 to 4-1/2 stars by Golf Digest and are widely known as “must plays” when visiting the Grand Strand.
SouthWood Golf Club (Tallahassee, Florida)
Featuring an elegant antebellum home, quaint onsite cottages and stands of stunning oak trees blanketed in Spanish moss, SouthWood Golf Club couldn’t be anywhere but the South. Designed by PGA TOUR star Fred Couples and vaunted golf course architect Gene Bates, SouthWood ambles through the rolling hills, woods and open land of Florida’s capital city to create one of the Sunshine State’s most sought after playing experiences. SouthWood’s seasonal stay-and-play packages combine the charm and championship-caliber golf that make it so special. www.southwoodgolfclub.com; 850.942.4653
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