Hit the Golf Greens

If you missed planning a romantic getaway for Valentine’s Day (or maybe it’s just not your thing), perhaps hitting the golf greens or treating your guy to a little trip is what you need.

We scouted out some of the best spots to show off your drive.

A Maui Aloha

The Kapalua Golf Resort in Maui, Hawaii is home to the par-73, 7,411-yard Plantation Course, site of the PGA Tour Mercedes Championships, and touted as one of the best resorts and island golf courses in the world. Designed by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore, the course unfolds across pineapple plantation fields and breathtaking scenery. Arnold Palmer designed the resort’s par-70, 6,371-yard Village Course, which twists and maneuvers through the West Maui foothills, and is excellent for a beginner or a seasoned connoisseur. The third course, also designed by Palmer along with Francis Duane, is the par-72, 6,600-yard Bay Course. The Kapalua Golf Academy offers PGA professional instruction from three-day classes to customized clinics. www.kapaluamaui.com

Down to Mexico

The Four Seasons Golf Club in Punta Minta, the luxurious Jack Nicklaus-designed, 200-acre golf course, was named the number one pick in the 2006 reader’s poll by Condè Nast Traveler magazine. Just twenty-six miles from Puerto Vallarta, the par-72, 7,104-yard course is surrounded by white sand beaches and the Sierra Madre Mountains. Eight holes border the Pacific. The optional 3-par, 19th hole is on a natural island 199 yards off the coast, called “The Tail of the Whale,” which is known for whale watching. The resort offers 141 guest rooms, most of which provide breathtaking views.www.fourseasons.com

A Scottish Jaunt

Scotland is home to more than 540 luxurious golf courses, including the world-renowned courses of Gleneagles in Auchterarder and the Westin Turnberry Resort in Ayrshire, winner of the European golf resort-of-the-year award last year. Gleneagles boasts courses with regal titles such as the King’s Course and the Queen’s Course, designed by famed James Braid and the PGA Centenary Course, designed by Jack Nicklaus. The par-72, 7,074-yard King’s Course was designed to challenge the best of the best and their shot-making skills. It offers a springy moorland turf and awe-inspiring views of the countryside. The par-71, 6,901-yard Queen’s Course is in a woodland setting and features true moorland characteristics. Nicklaus described the course as, “The finest parcel of land in the world I have ever been given to work with.” www.gleneagles.com

With three distinguished courses, the Westin Turnberry is home to the Senior British Open on the Ailsa Course. Providing glorious scenery, including the granite dome of Ailsa Craig, the low form of the tip of Argyll and the peaks of Arran, the course is known for a remote tee set on a rocky cliff at the edge of the sea. The resort advises on its Web site, “The narrow path to the tee and the tee shot itself are not recommended to those of a nervous disposition.” The Kintyre Course with its stunning views, including the famous Turnberry Lighthouse and the magnificent fairways, is noted for its eighth hold: An elevated tee leads to a blind second shot to the green on a gully by the rocks. And the Arran Course is an appealing combination of par-3 and par-4 shots, complete with tight shots from thick Scottish rough, challenging any level of golfer. www.turnberry.co.uk

Jet Set to Florida

The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort in Naples, designed by legendary Greg Norman, has received high accolades from Golf Digest and Condè Nast Traveler. The Mediterranean-style resort offers many amenities, and the Tiburon Golf Club is home to the Merrill Lynch Shootout and the Rick Smith Golf Academy. There are two 18-hole championship courses. Providing challenge for every level of player, the course possesses stacked sod wall bunkers, coquina sand and no roughs. And, as stated on the resort’s Web site, “Hit an errant shot and your ball becomes part of our pristine Florida landscape.” www.ritzcarlton.com

So Cal Hot Spots

The most well known course in the United States is Pebble Beach Resort in Monterey, which won the 2006 Golf Resort of the Year for North America award, among numerous other accolades over the years. Jack Nicklaus has said of the resort, “If I had only one more round to play, I would choose to play it at Pebble Beach.” Offered are the par-72, 6,737-yard Golf Links course, the par-72, 6,682-yard Spyglass Hill course, the par-72, 6,821-yard The Links at Spanish Bay course and the par-72, 6,457-yard Delmonte course; all offering challenging rounds. The Golf Links course, designed by Jack Neville and Douglas Grant, and the site of Tiger Woods’ historic 2000 U.S. Open Championship win, will host the 2010 championship. The resort is also home to the only public nine-hole, par-3 golf course — perfect for practicing or a quick game. www.pebblebeach.com

With a coastal course designed by Arnold Palmer, the Park Hyatt Aviara Resort in Carlsbad (north of San Diego) boasts a 7,007-yard, par-72 locale with 18 holes and beautiful scenery. The natural topography is incorporated into the landscaping; the water elements are visually positioned as beauty, rather than a threat. Golf Magazine, Golf Digest and Condè Nast Traveler magazines have all recognized the resort as one of the premier golf spots. The full-service hotel, with its Spanish Colonial architecture harmonizing perfectly with its surroundings, offers a myriad of dining and other activities. www.parkaviara.hyatt.com


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