We've taken enough golf trips to know that we all need a break. While the tour pros beg their ball to avoid the rough and find the beach, the kind amateurs need doesn't come with a rake, or a high lip, or a low bottom. Nothing pairs better with golf than a relaxing day at the beach. Warm sun, soft sand, ocean or lake at the tip of your toes. Fortunately for all golfers, the best courses have a beach within a short drive's distance (car, not Callaway!) Here's a quick list of the Top 5 beach courses in the American Southeast, for your next solo, partner or buddy getaway.
TPC Sawgrass and Jax Beach
People thought the PGA Tour and Pete Dye were crazy when they turned a Florida swamp into TPC Sawgrass, back in the late 1970s/early 1980s. And here we are today, with the island 17th hole the most recognizable par three in the professional game. Up the road from Ponte Vedra Beach, where the pro tour calls home, is the world-famous Jax Beach. Where Jacksonville meets the sea, golfers meet their calm.
Food near TPC Sawgrass: Metro Diner
Food near Jax Beach: Taco Lu
Airbnb in Sawgrass: Mid April 2020 for 4 adults
Rons Rating: 9/10 stars. TPC Sawgrass has the most opulent clubhouse in the game, a top-shelf course for the best players, but it will provide a challenge for the player with holes in his game. Either pack enough golf balls, or be prepared to pick up and save face, should you play the wrong tee decks.
Miami Beach/Key Biscayne and Doral/Crandon Park
One of life's great mysteries, is how so much development fits on these spits of land, adjacent to the mainland, joined by causeways. Pick a beach...so much strand on the eastern coasts of Miami Beach and Key Biscane. Remember how far south you are and apply the sunscreen liberally and often.
Food near Miami Beach: Moreno's Cuba
Food near Doral: Shorty's B-B-Q
Food near Key Biscayne: Donut Gallery Diner
Food near Crandon Park: Ayesha Indian Restaurant
Airbnb in Miami beach: Mid April 202 for 4 adults
Ron's Rating: 8/10 stars. There are golf courses on the main island where the Miami Beaches await, but they don't get it done like others nearby. The region's best public golf lies off the principal atoll. There are four courses at Doral, highlighted by the Blue Monster. Former site of PGA Tour events, it was reworked by Gil Hanse in the early 2010s. It will cost you, but the chance to take on the 18th hole is worth it. On Key Biscane, hard against the bay, is Crandon Park. The epitome of a well-kept muni, Crandon Park combines beyond-beautiful vistas with great golf at a manageable price. After some cool morning golf, head for the beaches, and then out for a night at the clubs.
Fallen Oak MI and Biloxi Beach
Golf is tricky near Biloxi Beach, Mississippi. The President Broadwater course is closed, and the Great Southern may not be far behind. The beaches? Humming! Not to fear, however. About 20 minutes inland, just across the arch from the strand, the Fallen Oak resort boasts a well-ranked, Tom Fazio golf course. The tricky part is, they say it's for resort guests only. A stay at the Beau Rivage resort should be high on your list, but if not, try a phone call and see if you can score a tee time.
Food near Biloxi Beach: Shaggy's
Food near Fallen Oak: Ramsey Springs General Store
Airbnb near Biloxi: Mid April 2020 for 4 adults
Ron's Rating: 9/10 It's not that there's much wrong with this golf course. We haven't handed out a perfect 10 just yet, and we don't know when we might. 9/10 should be good enough for anyone to stop, drop, and make plans to visit. Fallen Oak has width for shorter hitters, and daring carries for those who challenge the lines of seduction. Its high ranking on many lists is well-deserved. The PGA Tour Champions pros doubtless agree; they return each March for the Rapiscan Classic.
Innisbrook and Dunedin beaches
WestCoFla may not be a Twitter thing just yet, but the west coast of Florida has the relaxed vibe that many of us need. Jonesing for a round of golf on a tour-level test? Head to Innisbrook and book a tee time on its Copperhead course. Annual site of the Valspar Classic, the Copperhead has the up/down movement of a northern course, but all the guile of a Florida trace.
Food near Dunedin Beaches: Market 8 on the water
Food near Innisbrook: Johnny Grits
Airbnb in Dunedin: Mid April 202 for 4 adults
Ron's Rating: 8/10 stars Innisbrook is a complete golf resort, with five courses to choose from. The Copperhead is a mighty test, with fun greens to decipher. A little bit of sameness creeps into some of the approach shots, and the rough can be gnarly for a person on vacation. If you sign up for it, expect the Copperhead to strike!
St. Simons Island GA and Sea Island courses
Need a getaway? Need an island that doesn't remind you of Lost? Head to the Peach State and make your way to the coastal Golden Isles of Georgia. SSI is home to a bevy of PGA touring professionals. Laid back and tranquil, with a host of courses to choose from: Frederica, Sea Palms, King and Prince. For us, it's Sea Island Resort.
Food near St. Simons Public Beach: Porch
Food near Sea Island: A Moveable Feast
Airbnb on St. Simon's Island: Mid April 2020 for 4 adults
Ron's Rating: 8/10 stars Those who know me, know that I love classic golf architecture. I also dislike the redesign of classic golf architecture by architects looking to make a name. Ernest Hemingway, on the subject of punctuation, touched on golf with perfection: My attitude toward punctuation is that it ought to be as conventional as possible. The game of golf would lose a good deal if croquet mallets and billiard cues were allowed on the putting green. You ought to be able to show that you can do it a good deal better than anyone else with the regular tools before you have a license to bring in your own improvements. At Sea Island, they HAD golf courses designed by Harry Colt and Walter Travis. They went away from those classic designs, but are slowly working their way back to what was beautiful. Here's to a continued return.
AND THERE you have it. Thanks for reading. Look ahead to our next Bomb Beaches and Golf, as we head to the West Coast of the USA.