The Top 10 Winter Golf Escapes

With the first polar blast of the season bearing down upon much of the country, surely many of you are already dreaming about a warm-weather golf vacation, like at the resort in Mexico that the PGA Tour is visiting this week. We’re not talking Florida or Arizona, where the temps can be downright brisk in the dead of winter. We’re talking South of the Border, way south.

Barnbougle Dunes
Tasmania, Australia
You certainly don’t have to worry about frost delays Down Under where summer is just around the corner. Barnbougle (top photo) has two of Australia’s top 10 courses, The Dunes and Lost Farm, both of which play in and around dramatic dunes along stunning coastlines, and three different lodging options.

Cabo del SolCabo del Sol
Los Cabos, Mexico
The cleanup from Hurrican Odile is almost complete with the two spectacular layouts, the Ocean Course by Jack Nicklaus and the Desert Couse by Tom Weiskopf, resuming full operations Nov. 23. Think of the best Scottsdale courses you can think of right on the ocean. Luxury accommodations are available at either the Fiesta Americana Grand or the Sheraton Hacienda del Mar.

Casa del CampoCasa de Campo
Dominican Republic
Pete Dye designed 90 holes of golf at this recently updated resort (to the tune of $40 million), including the world’s highest ranked tropical course, Teeth of the Dog, a seaside masterpiece that can really leave a bite mark when the trade winds blow, which is often.

Dorado BeachDorado Beach
Puerto Rico
Boasting a brand new deluxe Ritz-Carlton hotel, the Caribbean’s most venerable resort has four Robert Trent Jones Sr. courses, all of which were just renovated in a $400 million facelift of the 1,400-acre property.

Fairmont MayakobaFairmont Mayakoba
Riviera Maya, Mexico
Located on the Yucatan Peninsula near Cancun, this 240-acre tropical refuge plays host to the PGA Tour this week and has one of Greg Norman’s best designs, which features Caribbean-perched greens and winds around crystal-clear lagoons and unusual hazards called cenotes (subterranean caves).

Four Seasons LanaiFour Seasons Lanai
Lanai, Hawaii
Oracle founder Larry Ellison purchased the two Four Seasons resorts a couple of years ago and has already made major upgrades to the hotels, but there’s no way to improve upon the Jack Nicklaus stunner at Manele Bay, which has more oceanfront holes than any other course in Hawaii. Nicklaus is currently renovating the other course at The Lodge at Koele in the island’s misty highlands and is expected to reopen soon.

Four Seasons NevisFour Seasons Nevis
St. Kitts and Nevis, West Indies
This lush two-island nation just southeast of San Juan is fast becoming a hotbed of golf. Although the RTJ II course at the Four Seasons opened in 1991, two new courses on nearby St. Kitts are slated to open next year to join the recently renovated Royal St. Kitts.

Punta MitaFour Seasons Punta Mita
Riviera Nayarit, Mexico
I know, I know, this may be Four Seasons overkill but they sure know how to do things right, especially here at this beachfront resort near Puerto Vallarta, which has two superb Jack Nicklaus designs, one of which, Pacifico, has the world’s only natural island green.

PuntacanaPuntacana Resort & Club
Dominican Republic
The most highly visited Caribbean resort with easy accessibility, the sprawling destination encompasses 26 square miles and now includes three upscale hotels, as well as two terrific courses, a new one, Corales, by Tom Fazio with six oceanfront holes and another, 27-hole design, La Cana, by P.B. Dye with 14 ocean-view holes.

Sandy Lane - Green MonkeySandy Lane
Caribbean resorts don’t get any more posh than at this idyllic retreat with its 112 luxurious rooms and suites, warm Barbadian hospitality, and two Tom Fazio courses, one with beautiful ocean views and the other carved out of a limestone quarry.