Six Great Golf Road Trips

The United States accounts for about 45 percent of the golf courses in the world, so if you’re looking for a great destination don't pack your clubs before checking out golf travel writer Len Ziehm's list of favorite golf vacations.

PORT St. LUCIE, Florida – Golf travel options in the United States for the next few months will be reduced as winter weather transitions into most of the country. That doesn’t mean that golf isn’t happening at many of our favorite American destinations.

Here’s a sampling of what’s going on at some of the most popular golf destinations and what they’ll be offering in 2020:

REYNOLDS LAKE OCONEE – Few places have been making as many positive changes as this 99-hole resort in Greensboro, Ga., which is roughly midway between Atlanta and Augusta.

An 18-month renovation of the resort’s premier course, the Jack Nicklaus-designed Great Waters, has been completed and a multi-million-dollar transformation of The Ritz-Carlton hotel is now in the works, setting the stage for an exciting 2020 season there.

“The transformation that our resort will see over this next year will redefine luxury in Georgia,’’ said Ralph Vick, the hotel’s general manager. Luxury guest rooms and suites and the club lounge will be impacted in this latest phase of the renovation.

Lake Oconee, Georgia is located between Atlanta and Augusta in the heart of Georgia’s lake country offering moderate year-round weather with colorful seasonal changes and a quiet pastoral setting and plenty of golf courses..

AUDUBON TRAIL — Louisiana’s already impressive golf trail is growing. Three new courses have been added, bringing the total number of member courses to 18.
The new additions are LaTour, in Mathews; Oak Knoll, in Hammond; and Koasati Pines at Coushatta Casino Resort, in Kinder. LaTour is a David Toms design.
TPC Louisiana, best known of the other courses on the trail, now has new grass surfaces thanks to a $2 million enhancement project. It’ll continue as host of the PGA Tour’s Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

PINEHURST – The Manor Inn has re-opened after an extensive renovation. It’s the youngest of the North Carolina village’s three historic hotels.
Manor Inn opened in 1923, which pales in comparison to the Holly Inn (1895) and Carolina Hotel (1901). All of Manor Inn’s interior was renovated, with only 15 percent of the interior framing remaining.

Pinehurst Resort’s latest renovation project at The Manor Inn, built in 1923, was completed in summer 2019, just a short stroll from the heart of Pinehurst Village, and rumored to be Arnold Palmer’s favorite hangout in his youth.

The resort has also announced that it will host both the Boys and Girls High School Golf National Invitational for the second straight year in 2020. The girl’s version will feature 216 players and be contested from June 24-26 and the boys, with 324 players, will run from June 29-July 1. Both will be 54-hole tournaments with the girls using the Nos. 6, 8 and 1 courses and the boys competing on Nos. 6, 8 and 5.

MYRTLE BEACH – There’s never a slowdown at MB. The sixth annual Preseason Classic, a two-person 54-hole team event, will be played over six courses from Jan. 26-29.
Myrtle Beach will also have a notable new look, as 11 of its premier courses will go wall-to-wall green in 2020. Founder’s Group International has over seeded its courses, ensuring that players will enjoy lush green grass throughout the winter and spring. Those courses include TPC Myrtle Beach, King’s North at Myrtle Beach National, Pawley’s Plantation, Long Bay Club, World Tour, the Palmetto and Pine Hills courses at Myrtlewood, Wing Win Avocet, Tradition Club, River Club, and Willibrook Plantation.

In another new development MyrtleBeachGolfTrips.com has released the results of an anonymous survey of over 50 of the area’s PGA professionals in an effort to provide an answer to the frequently-asked question – Which of the area’s courses is best?

Myrtle Beach’s best? The area’s club professionals accorded The Dunes Club that honor.

The Dunes Golf & Beach Club, a Robert Trent Jones Sr. design was the clear No. 1. There’s sure to be more debate, though. Rounding out the top 10, in order, were Tidewater, Grande Dunes, Prestwick, TPC Myrtle Beach, True Blue, the Fazio Course and Dye Course at Barefoot Resort and King’s North.

FRENCH LICK – Cold weather may preclude golf at this southern Indiana resort for awhile, but things are looking up inside. The Valley Tower, a 71-room hotel, and the Valley Bar, both opened in November. They are part of a $17 million addition geared toward providing guests more options.

The classic course at French Lick Resort designed by iconic architect Donald Ross, features a par 70, 7000-yard layout with, 80 of Ross’ trademark bunkers with flat bottoms and deep, gnarly faces.

The additional rooms will supplement the existing 686 guestrooms at French Lick’s two historic hotels. French Lick Springs has 443 rooms and West Baden Springs has 243. Valley Bar will be the resort’s only 21-and-over eating establishment.

FROM THE PGA OF AMERICA

While the PGA of America is working on moving its headquarters winter home in Port St. Lucie, FL., it is a busy place. PGA Golf Club hosted the PGA Assistants’ Championship in November and landed two other big championships for the future.

PGA Golf Club will host the PGA Boys and Girls Junior Championship from July 13-31 of 2020 and the PGA Professional Championship in 2021.

“What’s significant about this and for everyone affiliated with the PGA Golf Club is that the facility will complete the circuit of hosting every PGA of America member championship,” said Jimmy Terry, senior director of PGA Golf Properties.

PGA Village in Port St. Lucie, Florida is a resort that deliver value and quality golf courses, owned by the PGA of America, PGA Village is ranked as one of Golf Digest’s “75 Best Golf Resorts”. With 54 holes of golf designed by Tom Fazio and Pete Dye, a state of the art 35 acre practice facility and the PGA Museum of Golf.

Ground-breaking was held on Oct. 18 at the PGA of America’s eventual new headquarters in Frisco, TX. It came 10 months after the projected move from Palm Beach Gardens, FL., was announced. The construction timetable calls for golf course construction to be finished in the fall of 2021, play starting in the spring of 2022 and the grand opening of the overall development in June, 2022.

COMING ATTRACTIONS

The Sheep Ranch, newest course at Oregon’s Bandon Dunes, is scheduled to open on June 1. The design team of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw have been creating a par-71, 6,785-yard layout. Coore-Crenshaw also designed Bandon Trails and Bandon Preserve in the golf hotbed.

Construction has begun on the 10-hole Hilltop Short Course at Forest Dunes, in Roscommon, MI., with an opening expected in the spring.

Premier club fitter Club Champion has announced the opening of new facilities in Richmond, VA.; Hartford, CT.; Louisville; Houston; Birmingham, AL., Scottsdale, AR.; and Grand Rapids, MI. And another will open soon in Omaha, NEB.

The PGA of America has announced a nationwide series of 12 clinics in connection with the KPMG Women’s Championship. The first is April 27 at El Niguel in Laguna, Niguel, Calif. The tournament proper is June 23-28 at Aronimink, in Pennsylvania.

Sailfish Point, a premier private club on Florida’s Hutchinson Island, has scheduled three major charity events – the United Way Tocqueville Society Benefit on Dec. 12, the Hibiscus Luncheon on March 2; and the Florida Oceanographic Society Fundraiser on March 29.

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Len Ziehm has been covering golf for over 50 years. He was the golf columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times for 41 years and has been in the same role for the Daily Herald and several regional newspapers since 2009. Len is also a regular contributor to the Chicago District Golfer magazine and the Illinois PGA website and his travel pieces are regularly published in Illinois Golfer and the Ohio Golf Journal. His works for all publications are available at a href="http://lenziehmongolf.com">lenziehmongolf.com. It is in its 10th year of operation and has been enhanced by the photography provided by his partner Joy Sarver in the last four years. Since moving to PGA Village in Port St. Lucie, FL, in 2016 Len has added the Morning Read and its partner wheretogolfnext.com website to his regular writing duties. An inductee into the Illinois Soccer Hall of Fame in 2004 (for his reporting and youth coaching, not as a player), Len will also be inducted into the Illinois Golf Hall of Fame on Oct. 18. He is also on the Advisory Board of the International Network of Golf, is a lifetime member of the Golf Writers Association of America and a member of the Golf Travel Writers of America.

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