Destinations

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August 16, 2010 | 5:08 p.m.

Touching down

Number four at The Glen Club in Glenview, Ill.
Number four at The Glen Club in Glenview, Ill.

CHICAGO – As a boy growing up in the Chicago suburbs, Josh Lesnik often whiled away the hours watching planes alight at Glenview Naval Air Station, a military base on the city’s outskirts.

It was wholesome entertainment.

But as the years passed, the air station shut down and Lesnik turned to golf as a diversion. On a recent summer morning near his childhood stomping grounds, Lesnik stood on what had been a busy tarmac, gazing at a landing strip of a different kind.

The fairway of a par 4 extended before him, bending around a water hazard toward a bowl-shaped ...

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Categories: Travel, Destinations
August 16, 2010 | 4:09 p.m.

Rolling through the Sandhills

Bradley S. Klein
The fourth hole at Dismal River Golf Club.
The fourth hole at Dismal River Golf Club.

We’ve all been there before, but usually at 37,000 feet. And from there, in the jet stream on a cross-country flight, the vast open space designated “Nebraska” on maps doesn’t look very compelling. But as we discovered during a five-day, 800-mile bus tour of the state, the land here has an alluring quality, with massive rolls and natural blowouts. From the vantage point of a bus window, the keen eye of a golfer spots resplendent holes everywhere.

“We” are 28 Golfweek’s Best course evaluators, on a tour of the Cornhusker State, or at least that part ...

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Categories: Travel, Destinations
July 19, 2010 | 12:51 p.m.

Around the Bend

Martin Kaufmann
No. 17 at Tetherow
No. 17 at Tetherow

BEND, Ore. – The 15th hole at the Pronghorn Club’s Jack Nicklaus Course is a 543-yard minefield of knobs, notches and outcroppings that impede players’ paths to the green. Nicklaus, who somewhat auspiciously dubbed this course “Pine Valley West,” is said to be particularly fond of this par 5, and with good reason. It benefits not just from Nicklaus’ acumen as an architect, but also from the setting. The Three Sisters – the distinctive 10,000-foot-plus peaks of the Cascade Range to the west – are framed picture perfectly beyond the green.

It neatly serves as a microcosm of the golf scene ...

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July 5, 2010 | 3:24 p.m.

Welcome home

Martin Kaufmann
The Auld Grey Toon serves as the backdrop for No. 17 on the Fairmont St. Andrews' Kittocks Course.
The Auld Grey Toon serves as the backdrop for No. 17 on the Fairmont St. Andrews' Kittocks Course.

ST. ANDREWS, SCOTLAND – “Don’t look back,” my playing partner told me. “Hit your tee shot. Then you can look back.”

I suspect that David Horne has given that piece of advice to many golfers as they nervously awaited their opening tee shots on The Old Course. As if the world’s most famous, and famously quirky, links needed a home-court advantage, looming behind the first tee is the imposing R&A Clubhouse.

Gulp!

But I was in good hands with Horne, who spent 10 years caddying on The Old Course. In that capacity, he saw more hapless tourists bounce ...

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June 28, 2010 | 5:37 p.m.

Chugging through Canada

Tobiano Golf Course
Tobiano Golf Course

On paper, the pitch sounded hard to refuse: travel by luxury sleeper train for 10 days across northwest Canada, stopping only to play golf, lodge and eat sirloin mooseburgers. The view of the Canadian Rockies would steal one’s breath by day, the clackety-clack of the steel wheels would lull one into a hypnotic slumber by night. What could possibly go wrong with such a dream scenario?

Two words: Railroad strike. Via Rail – Canada’s Amtrak – had endured long-standing disputes with its employees, who finally decided to walk the line rather than let some freeloading Yankee golf writers make Canuck ...

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June 24, 2010 | 4:08 p.m.

Beach bargin

The 13th hole at Pacific Grove Golf Course plays along the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean.
The 13th hole at Pacific Grove Golf Course plays along the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean.

On a misty late-May morning on the Monterey Peninsula, Matt Blair eased his Chevy pickup along 17 Mile Drive, past the gilded mansions that flank the pristine fairways of the country’s best-known public course.

The corporate tents were up, and so was the rough on Pebble Beach Golf Links, in preparation for the U.S. Open. But the tee boxes were packed with amateur enthusiasts who’d plunked down a car payment for the right to play.

“Looks like fun,” said Blair, a small-business owner from nearby Carmel Valley who grew up playing Pebble Beach for $25.

“But I ...

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Categories: Top Stories, Destinations
June 7, 2010 | 2:43 p.m.

Pure Golf

Martin Kaufmann
Tom Lehman's Dunes Course.
Tom Lehman's Dunes Course.

VALENTINE, Neb. – Nebraska’s Sand Hills region is a geological anomaly spanning 20,000 square miles, almost entirely in the north-central part of the state. Waves of grassy sand dunes roll across the landscape, sometimes rising more than 300 feet, defying the notion of the pancake-flat Great Plains.

The Sand Hills, the largest tract of stabilized sand dunes in the Western Hemisphere, does not lend itself to growing crops. It can grow only grass, which serves the dual purpose of feeding the livestock that lazily graze the region while holding the sand dunes in place.

Whether by happy coincidence or ...

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May 3, 2010 | 4:33 p.m.

Fast Tracks

The Golf Club at Ballantyne
The Golf Club at Ballantyne

NEWTON, N.C. – Thirty-five years ago, Dale Jarrett faced what amounted to a career choice. Would the 18-year-old follow in the footsteps of his father, longtime NASCAR driver and broadcaster Ned Jarrett, or take a shot at college and his other main sports love – golf?

Then-University of South Carolina coach Bobby Foster had offered a scholarship to the self-taught youngster from Hickory, N.C. His parents had a preference, too, and it wasn’t racing.

“I tried to encourage him to go the golf route,” Ned Jarrett, 77, said. “I knew the pitfalls in racing. And I thought if he ...

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Categories: Destinations
April 24, 2010 | 2:24 p.m.

Organizers working to promote golf in Cuba

Players hit the practice green during the Montecristo Cup Golf Tournament in Varadero, Cuba
Players hit the practice green during the Montecristo Cup Golf Tournament in Varadero, Cuba

VARADERO, Cuba – The two revolutionary icons were playing the gentlemen’s game in fatigues and combat boots. And they weren’t playing well.

Che Guevara shot a 127, besting Fidel Castro’s 150 on a par-70 golf course.

Their 1961 round a month before the Bay of Pigs invasion was the beginning of the end for golf in Cuba – soon the communist government had eliminated the sport from the island almost entirely.

Only one 18-hole course remains, the Varadero Golf Club in this beach resort 85 miles east of Havana. On Friday and Saturday it hosted two one-day pro-am tournaments ...

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Categories: Destinations
April 12, 2010 | 7:27 p.m.

Desert spring

Martin Kaufmann
No. 4 at Southern Dunes
No. 4 at Southern Dunes

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – No sooner had the rental-car shuttle at Sky Harbor Airport pulled away from the curb than the driver grabbed the intercom and told the vacuum-packed tourists he was hauling, “This is the best time of year to come to Phoenix.”

Amen, brother. Just get us to our rental cars and everything will be perfect. Which is darn near how everything is here in early spring.

For golfers, the Valley of the Sun has more assets than Wells Fargo. Those include two clubs – Superstition Mountain and Southern Dunes – that not long ago were strictly private.

Lyle Anderson, the visionary ...

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March 22, 2010 | 5:57 p.m.

Around town

Martin Kaufmann
Augusta's Riverwalk Marina
Augusta's Riverwalk Marina

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Mention Augusta and inevitably people think of the Masters. Augusta, more than any other city, is defined by its signature tournament. That said, the city does offer other attractions if you’re visiting during tournament week or any other time of the year.

• • •

Riverwalk

This bi-level walkway along the Savannah River is convenient to downtown restaurants, the Marriott Hotel & Suites, the largest hotel in town, and the Museum of History. It’s also where you’ll find the Jessye Norman Amphitheater, named for the celebrated soprano who hails from Augusta, and Fort Discovery, which is affiliated with the ...

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March 22, 2010 | 5:37 p.m.

Outside the gates

Martin Kaufmann
Palmetto Golf Club
Palmetto Golf Club

AUGUSTA, Ga. – For 51 weeks of the year, the private golf clubs around here are just that: private. You have to know the right people to gain access.

The first week of April, however, many clubs throw open their doors to the fans – er, patrons – who arrive like the blooming azaleas for the Masters. For golfers, the benefits are obvious: It’s their chance

to sample the forbidden fruit. The clubs have more practical considerations. This is their chance to make a quick windfall that offsets some expenses for members. And it’s timely, given that local members often leave ...

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March 15, 2010 | 6:36 p.m.

Vistas with value

Martin Kaufmann
Black Mesa, ranked No. 2 in New Mexico.
Black Mesa, ranked No. 2 in New Mexico.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – New Mexicans famously love hot-air balloon rides. The nine-day Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta that’s held each October frequently attracts more than 700,000 attendees – an impressive number given that the state’s total population is only about 2 million.

It’s little wonder that residents and tourists enjoy surveying New Mexico from on high. From any given point, balloonists are likely to have a bird’s-eye view of three or more mountain ranges that jut up all around the Rio Grande Valley.

“When people come out here, they can’t believe the vistas,” says George Trujeque ...

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February 22, 2010 | 1:33 p.m.

On the trail

James Achenbach
Nos. 9 (foreground) and 18 at Ross Bridge
Nos. 9 (foreground) and 18 at Ross Bridge

PRATTVILLE, Ala. – We are standing on the first tee of the Judge Course at Capitol Hill, and we are frightened out of our FootJoys. That happens a lot on Alabama’s Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail.

From the back tees, we face 415 yards of terror, starting with an intimidating 200-foot drop to a fairway that looks about as wide as a garden path and is guarded by water on the right and something resembling a swamp on the left.

Head pro Will Fisher assures us the fairway “is much wider than it looks,” but I’m not buying it ...

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February 22, 2010 | 12:23 p.m.

Fiji: Where golf comes with an ocean view

James Achenbach
Natadola Bay Golf Club
Natadola Bay Golf Club

NATADOLA, Fiji – Want to escape to an exotic island? Fiji has you covered.

Fiji has about 330 of them, including one – Monuriki – where Tom Hanks was marooned in “Cast Away.” There are few places on earth that can match the undisturbed majesty of this archipelago nation. More than 200 of the Fijian islands are uninhabited, and about 70 percent of the country’s 945,000 residents live on Viti Levu, home to the capital city of Suva.

There is no congestion, overcrowding or hectic pace in this part of the world. Things are slow, and the Fijian people remain unspoiled ...

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