Memorial Day, the unofficial start of summer, is upon us. With the temperate zone of North America basking in the year’s best weather over the next three months, now is the time to plan a trip to an eclectic, exceptional resort where everyone, from serious golfers and casual enthusiasts to kids who just want to splash in the pool, will enjoy a happy and memorable vacation.
Colorado Springs, Colo.
Situated in the foothills of the Southern Rockies, the pale pink Italianate palace at The Broadmoor is a glamorous grande dame with an unrivalled array of amenities. The Donald Ross-designed East Course, revised by Robert Trent Jones in 1950, is routed at 6,400 feet and was the highest course in the U.S. when it opened in 1918. Pike’s Peak and the soaring flanks of Cheyenne Mountain rise behind the layout’s very wide fairways and huge slick greens. The West Course, routed on hillier terrain, features an enticing blend of Ross and Jones holes, while the resort’s Mountain Course, restyled by Nicklaus Design in 2006, is a scenic, brawny test stretching to 7,637 yards. Tally up the scores at the Golden Bee, a recreated 19th-century English pub featuring yards of ale, pot pies, and ragtime piano tunes.
Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge
At the far end of the Icefields Parkway in the Canadian Rockies sits Jasper Park, one of North America’s most majestic alpine getaways. Debuted in 1925, the resort’s golf course was hewn from the wilderness by 50 teams of horses and 200 men under the direction of Stanley Thompson, who aligned many of the holes to distant snow-frosted peaks. An impish landscape artist, Thompson built the par-three 9th to resemble the hourglass-shaped figure of Cleopatra. (Prim executives made him change the hole, but the challenge remains). Accommodations are found in cedar chalets and luxury log cabins spaced along the shores of a glacier-fed lake, with picturesque paths leading to superb restaurants and an award-winning spa.
Tucked away in north central Michigan, the Tom Weiskopf-designed course at Forest Dunes, set on 500 acres adjacent to Huron National Forest, was carved from a sand-based site cleared for farming in the 1930s. Weiskopf redistributed the sand to fabricate rolling “dunes” and other seaside links features. Framed by bracken, wildflowers, and tall red pines, this firm, fast, walker-friendly layout is loaded with strategic risk-reward options. Matches can be settled at the Bye Hole, a petite par three that plays across the corner of a lake to a green with a bunker in its center. Lake AuSable Lodge, opened in 2013 adjacent to the Adirondack-style clubhouse, offers 14 guest rooms and suites overlooking the lake. In partnership with the Old AuSable Fly Shop, Forest Dunes offers guided float trips on the AuSable River, a renowned trout fishery.
French Lick Resort
French Lick, Ind.
This historic resort in southern Indiana, treated to a $500 million restoration in 2009 after decades of neglect, showcases the West Baden Springs Hotel, a National Historic Landmark; the yellow-brick French Lick Springs Hotel; plus a new casino, a brace of restaurants, a pair of spas, and a stellar line-up of golf courses. After the resort’s original venue (a 1917 Donald Ross design) was revitalized, Pete Dye was hired to build a new course on the state’s second-highest peak. Grafted onto treeless hilltops at nearly 1,000 feet above sea level, Dye’s 8,102-yard behemoth, marked by “volcano” bunkers, twisting fairways, and grassy chasms, offers a major-league test plus 40-mile views across Hoosier National Forest. More golf? There’s Sultan’s Run and the Valley Links, a fun nine-holer.
Grand View Lodge
Located in Minnesota’s Brainerd Lakes region three hours north of the Twin Cities, Grand View Lodge is a 900-acre north woods retreat where vacationing families have splashed around in Gull Lake since 1919. Golf at Grand View, introduced in the early 1990s, is excellent. The Pines, a 27-hole layout, takes players through the woods and around lakes and marshes. The Preserve, a nearby sister facility slated to reopen July 1 following a major makeover, has 14 elevated tees and 40 acres of wetlands. The Garden course, a vintage nine-holer from the 1930s, offers six-inch cups and kid’s tee boxes to encourage family participation. Dining at Grand View, with Minnesota walleye the featured dish, is first-rate.
Hershey Entertainment & Resorts
Located on the outskirts of the Pennsylvania Dutch country, Hershey, billed as “The Sweetest Place on Earth,” is a town built on chocolate and fun. But it’s also a first-rate golf destination. The Hershey Golf Collection at this family-friendly getaway offers three distinctive courses. Venues range from the West Course, a classic Golden Age parkland layout that hosted the 1940 PGA Championship; the East Course, a stern George Fazio design known for its uphill climbs, pedestal greens, and numerous bunkers; and Spring Creek, a tree-lined nine-holer built by chocolate baron Milton S. Hershey expressly for kids. Hersheypark features over 70 rides (including 12 roller coasters), 20 kiddie rides, plus live entertainment.
Meadows of Dan, Va.
Built by a French billionaire on 12,000 acres a short drive from Virginia’s Blue Ridge Parkway, Primland’s piece de resistance is the Highland Course, a spectacular layout by Englishman Donald Steel that crowns the top of a mountain at 3,000 feet. Several of the rollicking, tree-lined holes teeter near the brink of a deep gorge studded with towering rock pinnacles. Driving zones are wide, but the liberally contoured greens are exceedingly quick. From the Buzzard’s Roost lookout, golfers have unobstructed views of North Carolina’s rolling Piedmont and Winston-Salem’s skyline 90 miles away. Primland’s LEED-certified, cedar and stone Lodge, accented by timber salvaged from old tobacco barns, commands the apex of the property overlooking the 18th green.
Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch
Inspired by grand National Park lodges at Yosemite and Yellowstone, this impressive 237-room property, nestled at the base of Beaver Creek Mountain west of Vail, is accented by rough-hewn logs, indigenous stone, and 100 fireplaces. Guests have preferred access to semi-private Red Sky Ranch, where play is alternated daily between the club’s Tom Fazio- and Greg Norman-designed courses, each a sagebrush-trimmed gem carved from groves of aspen, junipers and scrub oaks. Red-rock outcrops, deep gulches, and a swift-flowing river frame the layouts, which plays shorter than the measured yardage due to the elevation at over 7,000 feet. The hotel’s golf concierge can arrange tee times, lessons, transportation, and golf club rentals. In addition to rock-climbing, white-water rafting, and mountain biking, the Vail Valley comes alive with music, drama, and dance festivals all summer long.
Stowe Mountain Lodge
Nestled at the base of 4,393-foot Mt. Mansfield in a destination celebrated for its beauty, this elegant resort, opened in 2008, is one of New England’s premier retreats. With its façade of woven timber and shingles, the 300-room Lodge draws on the architectural tradition of turn-of-the-century summer camps, with oversize windows oriented to the rugged mountain landscape. Guests have access to otherwise-private Stowe Mountain Golf Club, a short but challenging wilderness design designed by Bob Cup that slaloms around gurgling brooks, a sparkling lake, and a hardwood forest. Holes zigzag across foothills nestled between Mt. Mansfield and Spruce Peak. Off-course activities range from mountain biking and fly-fishing to hot air ballooning.
Located “on the edge of the forest near the heart of the city,” Tetherow’s calling card is a visually arresting layout by David McLay Kidd that debuted in 2009. Routed across a pair of sagebrush-covered ridgelines, this fescue-fringed goliath, staked out by big jagged bunkers, accentuates the ground game. The speedy undulating greens resemble blistered potato chips. Except for the proximity of the Deschutes National Forest and the cluster of snow-capped Cascades on the horizon, Tetherow could pass for a course in the Scottish Highlands, a tribute to Kidd’s artistry. The property recently opened Tetherow Lodges, an eco-minded 50-unit “base camp” convenient to a plethora of outdoor activities in and around Bend, one of the nation’s recreation capitals.