By: Bryan Ott
It’s no secret here at CIGAR.com that if I’m not in the office or hunting down cigars, I’m probably golfing. And you can scratch the “probably” from the record. Little known fact, before I made my way to the best cigar retailer on earth, I made my living teaching people how to golf. Without opening a can of worms, I didn’t work in the golf business for the paycheck (no one does that I know). Looking back, I did it for the free golf, and there was lots of it. Does it make me an expert on the best courses in the country? Probably not, but it’s the best we have here at CIGAR.com! Without further ado, here is my Top 7 destinations for a summer trip with the guys to play some golf, grab some beers, and light up.
Pinehurst, North Carolina — The Cradle of American Golf
If you’re remotely into golf, make your way to Pinehurst at least once in your lifetime. A walk through the historic Pinehurst clubhouse is worth the trip alone. Located in the Sandhills of North Carolina, most courses play firm and fast, and there is plenty of options to fit all budgets. If you’re into sightseeing, don’t expect to find anything other than golf, drinks, cigars, and the occasional horse farm in this town. Tee it up here if you can: Pinehurst No.2, No.8, No.9 or No.4, Pine Needles, Mid-Pines, and Tobacco Road.
Northern Michigan — The Ultimate Hiding Place
If you’ve never been to these parts, let me tell you, the views are breathtaking. The tough part is getting there. The nearest major airport is 2-3 hours away in Flint, MI. If you’re looking for a place you won’t be found for a long weekend, look no further. The courses are spread out, but you aren’t getting this type of fresh air elsewhere. Here are list of my favorites: Arcadia Bluffs, Forest Dunes, Bay Harbor, The Bear at Grand Traverse, Otsego, and Treetops Resort.
Scottsdale, Arizona — Hot Weather, Cool Prices
Arizona is jam-packed with great golf. In the summer it’s hot, real hot. Forget the morning times too, you’ll be met with a full parking lot. If you can deal with the heat, your selection of great golf at great prices is deep. Desert courses, tree-lined courses, modern, and classic. Scottsdale has it all. Here’s my Top 5 in the public realm: Troon North, Grayhawk, TPC Scottsdale, Gold Canyon, and Talking Stick can all be played for under $80 in the summer months, and that’s a steal.
Myrtle Beach, SC — Because No List is Complete…
If they don’t advertise this place in divorce court, they should. Myrtle Beach is a beachfront man cave stocked with golf, brews, beachfront living, and cigars. As an added bonus, it’s rather affordable if you can overlook the tourist nature of the locale. But beware, all the courses aren’t as good as advertised. Pay the upcharge to hit these gems: Caledonia, True Blue, Legends, The Heritage, and anything in Barefoot Resort.
Hilton Head, SC — The Hardest Part is Leaving
It’s Myrtle without the tourist trap courses and watering holes to avoid. If you want a real taste of the Low Country lifestyle, plant your feet in Hilton Head. If your eye is on the area’s best golf bar none, head up the road to Kiawah or across the border to Sea Island. I’ll be in Hilton Head with my feet up and some coins leftover for a bourbon, or three. Must Play Courses: Palmetto Dunes, Anything in Sea Pines, Palmetto Bluff, Oyster Reef, and Hilton Head National.
Florida — The Entire State
Two words: Off Season. Is it hotter than heck, well yes, but the beer tastes colder, the pace of play is fast, and the greens fees and hotel rates are at an all-time low. All the courses that looked nice over the winter, but you didn’t want to part with $200, well, most of them are $50 in summer, and even less to replay. Word to the wise: Get the early tee time and finish before noon, then bring the group in for a long lunch and plenty of refreshments. Get back out there after 3pm and see who can drive the cart the straightest.
Bandon, OR — Bandon Dunes Golf Resort
In a tiny coast town in The Northwest, you will find the country’s greatest collection of golf you can play. Four courses all as good as the next. It’s going to cost you a pretty penny, unless you’re accustomed to their competition down the road at Pebble Beach, then it will feel more like a clearance cave for world-class golf. For goodness sake, their Par 3 course is in my Top 25. Just go! Must Play Courses: All of them, including the 2.3 acre putting course called The Punchbowl.
That completes my Top 7 Golf Getaways. There may be better locations, I just haven’t gotten there yet. While there is still time on the calendar, make time to explore the country golfing with good company, good drinks, and cigars of course. Hit ‘em straight my friends!