Destinations

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February 15, 2010 | 12:34 p.m.

Great escapes

Martin Kaufmann
The California Lighthouse stands sentinel over Tierra del Sol.
The California Lighthouse stands sentinel over Tierra del Sol.

ORANJESTAD, Aruba - One of tourism’s ancillary benefits often comes when we return home, at which point we can kindle our friends’ envy with tales of some exotic locale we found in a corner of the Caribbean, where the weather is perpetually balmy, the golf is memorable and, at the end of the day, there’s always a comfy beach chair where you can enjoy the sunset.

With that in mind, I give you Aruba, a Caribbean sanctuary with a Dutch pedigree, a desert-like topography, a dependably sun-soaked coastline and a windswept Robert Trent Jones Jr. links. Travel agents would ...

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Categories: Destinations
February 8, 2010 | 6:09 p.m.

Great Escape

The Reef Club at Our Lucaya.
The Reef Club at Our Lucaya.

GRAND BAHAMA ISLAND – It is possible that you will arrive on Grand Bahama Island stressed out. (If you’ve flown through the banana republics that are New York’s LaGuardia and Miami International airports, it’s virtually assured.) Fear not. One useful measure of a Caribbean getaway is how fast and how fully you decompress, and Our Lucaya comfortably passes this test.

The sprawling resort was rebranded as a Radisson in July, with subsequent employee training geared toward getting customer service up to snuff. (Smiles, everyone, smiles!) The friendly, proactive staff I found suggests the message has been heard.

Unlike ...

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Categories: Destinations
January 18, 2010 | 1:45 p.m.

Royal treatment

No. 15 at Banyan Golf Resort.
No. 15 at Banyan Golf Resort.

Until my recent sojourn to this self-dubbed “Land of Smiles,” the mention of Thailand conjured images of a steamy, tropical climate, impossibly spicy food and an exotic party scene along Bangkok’s teeming streets. I wouldn’t previously have factored golf into that equation.

I’m now, however, of a decidedly different opinion. Having played six rounds in as many days there, I came away thinking Thailand would make for a memorable buddy trip for those who don’t mind spending a day in the air each way to get there. That’s why they invented Ambien, right?

Part of ...

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Categories: Travel, Destinations
January 11, 2010 | 4:10 p.m.

Wales of an introduction

Martin Kaufmann
The 2010 Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor in Newport, South Wales will be one of the biggest sporting events held in the country's history.
The 2010 Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor in Newport, South Wales will be one of the biggest sporting events held in the country's history.

NEWPORT, South Wales – The 2010 Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor will be not just one of the biggest sporting events ever held in Wales but also a coming-out party for this nation of 3 million people. Rarely has a country had so much riding on a simple golf tournament.

Wales’ virtues are many, though largely undiscovered by American tourists. Its craggy coastline is lined with good, and sometimes great, links golf courses, many a century old or more. It has a diverse landscape, with the mountainous north providing a counterpoint to the beaches in the south. And it has a ...

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Categories: Travel, Destinations
December 19, 2009 | 11:12 a.m.

Baja fresh

Golfweek Staff
Jagged mountains and the Sea of Cortez surround Tom Doak's first course design in Mexico.
Jagged mountains and the Sea of Cortez surround Tom Doak's first course design in Mexico.

All 18 holes of architect Tom Doak’s first course design in Mexico opened in late November on a desolate spit of eastern Baja coastline where the rugged hills crash into the Sea of Cortez.

Doak’s layout anchors the 4,000-acre Bahia de los Suenos, a residential and resort project well removed from the population centers of La Paz to the north and Los Cabos to the south. The ambitious project has six miles of coastline, and the course opens and closes along a scenic cove. This is the first course on which Doak has used saltwater-tolerant Paspalum grass ...

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Categories: Travel, Destinations
December 8, 2009 | 10:54 a.m.

Still grand

No. 18 at Pine Lakes
No. 18 at Pine Lakes

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. – This Atlantic Coast resort town etched itself in the nation’s consciousness on Feb. 21, 1930. That’s when John T. Woodside, a Greenville textile tycoon, opened Ocean Forest Hotel, which sat on a bluff 29 feet above the sea. Locals had never seen anything like it. Ocean Forest had marble stairways, crystal chandeliers and Grecian columns. Myrtle Beach, previously known as a regional resort, suddenly began attracting the glitterati from across the nation. Celebrities would perform on the hotel’s stage, and couples arriving for parties were expected to be dressed in tuxedos and formal ...

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Categories: Destinations
November 17, 2009 | 3:31 p.m.

Tropic thunder

No. 4 at Moon Spa and Golf Club.
No. 4 at Moon Spa and Golf Club.

It’s a modern-day play on a rich Yucatán tradition: A society surveys a vast jungle canopy lapped on several sides by a cobalt blue sea and then has the Mesoamerican equivalent of an Archimedes moment, “Yes, let’s build.”

The Maya are gone, their cities and temples and culture having receded into the landscape. But for a something-from-nothing success story of more current vintage, look no farther than Cancún, which in fewer than 40 years has gone from being a narrow, uninhabited spit of sunbathing-perfect sand to one of the hottest destination spots in Mexico. As in days of ...

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Categories: Destinations
September 28, 2009 | 6:41 p.m.

Sweet Carolina

Martin Kaufmann
The eighth hole at Pinehurst No. 8.
The eighth hole at Pinehurst No. 8.

PINEHURST, N.C. – Despite my decidedly humble upbringing, I’ve always believed that there are certain exquisite pleasures on which one should never scrimp. You don’t go to Peter Luger’s and order salmon; you get the gut-busting prime rib with the jumbo shrimp cocktail starter. You don’t send Russell Stovers during the holidays; you send Godivas. And you don’t play Pinehurst No. 2 for the first time without reserving a veteran caddie like Keith Silva.

In theory, you can take a buggy, as did Christopher, my affable Scottish playing partner, and spend your round running back ...

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Categories: Destinations
September 21, 2009 | 5:11 p.m.

Blockbuster attractions

Rustic Canyon offers the rare Scottish ambiance in suburban L.A.
Rustic Canyon offers the rare Scottish ambiance in suburban L.A.

Having spent the better part of my adult life in Los Angeles, I’ve grown accustomed to the marked difference in sports fanaticism here compared with my beloved hometown of Detroit. Win or lose, Motor City maniacs can be relied upon to turn over and incinerate cop cars, bust shop windows and assault anyone wearing the opponent’s colors. Bravo, I say. Put your money where your loud mouth is!

Here on the kicked-back Rest Coast, celebrities sit courtside at pro sporting events and shamelessly chat with their agents, only sporadically glancing at the action. Embarrassing. And since we have ...

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Categories: Destinations
August 24, 2009 | 6:55 p.m.

Bullish on Baja

Martin Kaufmann
Tom Doak's Bahia de los Suenos, located south of La Paz.
Tom Doak's Bahia de los Suenos, located south of La Paz.

With space at a premium in Los Cabos, developers of resort and residential golf projects have been moving north, up Baja’s eastern and western coastlines. Many of these projects are in their infancy or in slow development, but some are moving forward.

Paraiso del Mar (Golfweek, May 9), a fanciful Arthur Hills design, opened earlier this year on a narrow strip of land across from the capital city of La Paz on Baja’s eastern coastline. That was the city’s first course, but there are more to follow.

Across La Paz Bay, Gary Player is building his first ...

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Categories: Destinations
August 24, 2009 | 6:34 p.m.

Surf and turf

The Tail of the Whale hole at Pacifico.
The Tail of the Whale hole at Pacifico.

PUNTA de MITA, Mexico – Like a well-made mole sauce, a visit to Mexico’s central coast is a perfect balance of the sweet and the bitter. Ashen gringos enjoy the best of first-world amenities – golf, spas and lodging – while locals toil in relative poverty, their indomitable spirit as sunny as the neighborly star that sinks cinematically into the Pacific at dusk. Together, the two halves add up to a spicy and compelling whole.

The high-end touristic action that centered around Puerto Vallarta three decades ago has migrated some 40 minutes north to what’s being marketed as the Riviera Nayarit ...

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Categories: Destinations
August 17, 2009 | 1:59 p.m.

Querencia's grand designs

Martin Kaufmann
No. 11 at Querencia.
No. 11 at Querencia.

San Jose del Cabo, Mexico – When the subject of golf architecture is broached, it’s typically along the lines of, “What did you think of that Fazio design?” And to be sure, there’s much to recommend about Tom Fazio’s thrill ride of a layout at Querencia, with its roller-coaster holes, icy-slick greens and sweeping views of the Sea of Cortez.

But Fazio met his architectural match at Querencia in the form of another, lesser-known designer, Arturo Ponce de Leon, who runs the residential community’s design center. He’s the creator of a clubhouse – more accurately described by ...

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Categories: Destinations
August 17, 2009 | 1:57 p.m.

Mexican evolution: Los Cabos

Martin Kaufmann
No. 17 at Cabo del Sol's Ocean Course.
No. 17 at Cabo del Sol's Ocean Course.

San Jose del Cabo, Mexico – “Are you writing a story about Los Cabos?”

The earnest young man had gotten wind that a lowly journalist was passing through. He eyed me intently as I navigated past a roomful of timeshare traffickers at SJD Los Cabos International Airport on my way to the rental-car shuttle. I nodded.

“Make sure to tell people it’s the safest place in Mexico,” he said. Wagging his finger for emphasis, he reiterated, “You tell them that.”

The young man needn’t have worried about that. I had arrived at a time when most of the stories ...

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Categories: Destinations
July 13, 2009 | 2:56 p.m.

Cooperstown: A tale of Americana

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – With braggadocio worthy of new arrival Rickey Henderson, Cooperstown has dubbed itself “America’s Most Perfect Village.” This begs the question: Are there degrees of perfection?

After a lovely weekend at the home of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, I can assure you this certainly isn’t America’s Least Perfect Village. It’s a strike down the middle.

Golfwise, Cooperstown is a one-course town, and that is the estimable Leatherstocking Golf Course. Like the grand dame Otesaga Resort Hotel to which Leatherstocking belongs, this Devereux Emmet creation is celebrating its centennial in 2009.

History isn ...

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Categories: Lifestyle, Travel, Destinations
June 29, 2009 | 11:21 a.m.

Atlantic City: Jersey jackpot

Martin Kaufmann

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – In the early 1850s, when he was courting investors for the rail line that would turn Atlantic City into a mega-resort, Dr. Jonathan Pitney rhapsodized about the virtues of Absecon Island – its pleasingly temperate seaside climate, its boating, fishing and other sporting activities – all just a short commute from Philadelphia and New York.

For Pitney, sometimes referred to as the “Father of Atlantic City,” it was an easy sale. The city charter was approved in March 1854, and four months later, the Camden and Atlantic Railroad began transporting vacationers to the new retreat.

I couldn’t ...

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