Winter is long.
Anybody who has ever lived in the Midwest or upper East Coast knows exactly what I mean.
Living in Michigan during the early stages of my golf writing career, I vividly remember sitting in my office for hours thumbing through golf magazines and cruising golf websites. Anything to get that golf fix.
I couldn't play. There was snow on the ground, and I'd be feeling sorry for myself, dreaming of life in California or Arizona. So how did I pass the time?
I started making a list of every golf resort I wanted to visit. This was the early days of the internet, before smartphones and pre-Facebook and other social media. There were no directories. I had to Yahoo! everything (before Google was cool) and use the magazines as guides. When I finally did get the chance to visit one of these places, I would print out directions on Mapquest to get there.
Nearly two decades later, it's GolfPass to the rescue. No, I haven't visited all the resorts I had hoped - The Greenbrier and Omni Homestead remain elusive - but that's okay. I've done something better by giving back to my fellow golf travel dreamers out there. I've helped build something cool, an online U.S. Golf resort guide, the best and most complete directory of golf resorts ever assembled.
Our golf resort pages are the ultimate resource for the traveling golfer. They are complete with maps, photos, key property information and of course, golf course reviews that are a staple of GolfPass.
How to use our golf resort guide
I sure could have used a guide like this when I moved from Michigan to California in 2014. To split up the drive cross-country, I planned several strategic golf stops. I spent hours trying to find golf resorts along Interstate-80. I found some cool spots to stay and play, but it was a lot of work.
Our guide is simply a collection of pages starting with the Homepage, which includes a map of the entire United States, followed by a listing of every state. You can click a state on the map or its listing below to jump into that state's directory. You can hover over every state in the map to see how many resorts call that state home.
Once you're on a state page, a map shows you where each resort is located. Again, you can click on the icon twice or resort listing below the map to get to an actual resort page. This page will introduce you to all the resort amenities. Some feature elaborate spas and pools, high-rise towers, marinas and hundreds of rooms. Others are as simple as a few cottages or a small motel near the clubhouse.
We highly recommend using this guide to help you plan future golf vacations. If you're in the snowbelt and looking to find some sunshine this winter, you should scan the pages of states like Florida, Arizona, Hawaii, California and elsewhere to scope out options.
We also include information on golf packages at many of the golf resorts in our directory, so that information will be included on every related state resort page, as will relevant stories with travel tips, in case you want to visit.
So what is a golf resort, anyway?
This is where our definition of a resort may differ from yours. Say the word "resort" to most golfers and they picture an Omni or Ritz-Carlton hotel, multiple amenities like infinity pools and high-class restaurants and at least one course. We take the definition a little more liberally. If there's a place to play and a place to stay, we more than likely added it to the guide. We included the property if:
1. There are accommodations onsite, from something as small as a single cabin to hundreds of hotel rooms.
2. There are accommodations within a mile that offer packages or are appealing to golfers.
3. The accommodations and the course are run by the same owners, even if there is some distance between the two.
4. Luxury properties with access to private clubs.
5. Private clubs that offer access to the public with a stay-and-play.
We also clear up some misconceptions about golf resorts. Perhaps most important: you don't need a pool and spa. Just look at Bandon Dunes.
You also don't need 18 holes or even a regulation-sized course. Consider Terranea, a stunning five-star property with only a nine-hole par-3 course near California's gorgeous oceanfront cliffs.
In some cases, you don't even need a building to sleep in. We included most state parks with golf courses, even if some of them only offered campsites (others feature comfortable lodges and cottages). If you can look past the fact you might have to stay in your RV - or, heaven forbid, a tent - many state parks offer the same outdoor amenities as high-end resorts - hiking trails, beaches, swimming pools, restaurants and more.
Some golf resorts don't even have a course on site. An interesting example would be the Downstream Casino Resort owned by the Quapaw Nation of Oklahoma, which runs the Bald Eagle Course at the Eagle Creek Golf Club across the Missouri state line three miles from the casino hotel. Others are private clubs that allow you to play if you stay. The famous Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio, recently began following this model.
The new trend is standalone courses building lodging, such as cottages and cabins, to become more appealing to golf groups and to keep them on property for dinner, drinks and more. Count Spirit Hollow in Iowa and Island Hills in Michigan among those golf facilities hoping to upend their resort competitors by stealing smaller groups looking for a more intimate experience.
There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all golf resort. Some traveling golfers don't need all the bells and whistles of a large resort. Not every one of our "resorts" is ideal for buddies trips or romantic couples golf getaways. Some don't even have restaurants.
Golfers who stay at these types of places just want a place to play and get away. That was my dream all those years ago.
Want to use our resort guide to start planning your next golf road trip? Click below to reach the home page.