Take Your A-Game on These Golf Getaways
What other excuse do you need to hit the Bahamas, Dominican Republic, or Virginia?
Homeowners enjoy the private beach at The Abaco Club, as well as the scenic par-3 4th hole.
The Abaco Club, Bahamas
Your second home can feature exclusive golf and intimate island living.
By Dave Donelson
The Abaco Club on Winding Bay is a Bahamian paradise just on the cusp of greatness under the relatively new ownership of Southworth Development, which rescued it in 2014. “The Abaco Club is blessed with many things money can’t buy,” says founder and CEO David Southworth. “We are investing in the amenities money can buy.”
The first priority for Southworth was renovation of the excellent links-style golf course, whose humps and bumps, pot bunkers, and excitingly contoured greens are unlike run-of-the mill Caribbean courses. How good is The Abaco Club course now that the renovation is complete? British Open winner Darren Clarke prepares for the Masters on it every year.
The 7,111-yard gem begins softly but builds to a strident crescendo on a route that follows the curve of the development’s two-mile beach along Winding Bay before turning back inland only to end with a pair of holes on a ridge above the azure Atlantic. Although the tropics-friendly turf doesn’t play quite as hard and fast as fescue, all the other delights of links golf — swale- and mogul-laden fairways, sand in all the most inconvenient places, and stiff seaside winds — make a challenging course even more entertaining. Just ask the flat-bellied bombers of the Web.com Tour, who started playing there in last year, in the Bahamas Great Abaco Classic.
Once the golf course and very fine practice facility were finished, Southworth turned his highly developed sensibilities to the amenities and residences. One-bedroom, one-bath cabanas, with the golf course on one side and the beach on the other, start in mid-six figures. Cottages, turnkey Caribbean homes from 2,200 to 3,000 sq. ft. are available in the $2 million range and are built to order, with quality finishes and features, expansive decks with incomparable views of Winding Bay, and short walks to the Cliff House restaurant, pool, spa, fitness center, and beach.
The Abaco Club boasts 18 custom-built estate homes already in place and occupied, with 18 additional beachfront lots available. The only existing estate home on the market at press time was a 7,500-square-foot villa with six bedrooms, luxurious interior areas, and expansive outdoor living spaces, including a dining area, pool, and cabana. The spectacular views and custom appointments are reflected in the $8.75 million asking price.
Today’s Abaco Club homeowners will revel in tomorrow’s enhanced amenities, like a new beachfront clubhouse with an additional restaurant, pool complex, expanded spa and fitness center, and club room for private events. Also in the construction-permitting stage is a private marina.
Pete Dye’s masterpiece, Casa de Campo’s Teeth of the Dog
Casa de Campo, Dominican Republic
A resort as sophisticated and upscale as anyone could want yet moderately priced for families and buddy trips.
By Dan Berger
Casa de Campo offers three golf experiences, each with its own personality but all bearing the distinctive stamp of Pete Dye’s master touch.
Teeth of the Dog has long been recognized as one of the world’s — not just the Caribbean’s — great courses. Dye’s masterpiece features seven holes on the sea and challenging green complexes that demand a diamond cutter’s precision in your approach game. Each hole presents a unique challenge, from the boulder-strewn waste bunker protecting the second fairway to the cross bunker, water hazard, and steeply elevated green on the 18th. The iconic 5th hole represents the epitome of short par 3s but only edges out the equally-spectacular 17th by a slightly better setting for photos.
A completely different game is played on the three nines at Dye Fore. The elevation changes alone set the course apart from most Caribbean golf experiences, and the resulting cliff-hanging greens and spectacular views of the Chavon River and harbor make it memorable.
The Dye Links rounds out the trio. If the course didn’t have two world-class siblings, Dye Links would be the belle of the ball. The course has wide, forgiving fairways but relentlessly difficult green complexes that belie the rating and slope.
There is much more to golf at Casa de Campo than three excellent public courses. Both practice facilities are more than complete with expansive grass ranges, short game areas, and multiple practice greens. This year, Casa de Campo opened a new learning center with indoor teaching bays and all the latest digital technology.
You should never run out of non-golf things to do at Casa de Campo. In fact, it may be the most complete resort in the world. Horseback riding, tennis, ziplining, and spa treatments are just a few of the multitudinous choices. Not to be missed is the 250-station shooting center for skeet or trap or a visit to the 20,000-acre preserve for live bird hunting. The beach and pool choices are endless, not to mention deep-sea fishing, snorkeling, and scuba. Some 15 dining and drinking options are operated by the resort, and numerous others are on property. Shop and stroll in the ultra-modern marina or Altos de Chavon, the replica 16th-century Mediterranean village.
The island green 16th hole at Golden Horseshoe Club Gold course
Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia
A red, white, and blue family-golf destination.
By Jimmy Guzewicz
Tradition with modern sensibilities mark golf at Colonial Williamsburg, the Virginia destination known for bringing American history to life. Just as the historic village has been rebuilt over the years, The Golden Horseshoe Golf Club’s 45 holes have kept pace with game through careful renovation and remodeling. In addition to the quality of golf, the depth and variety of recreational, educational, and inspirational opportunities make Colonial Williamsburg an ideal family golf destination.
The Gold Course, the destination’s championship venue, reopened last year, following extensive work by Rees Jones, whose father, RT Jones Sr., created the original design. In addition to modern turf and bunkers, several of the fascinating green complexes on the 6,817-yard course were reimagined to create new challenges. The course is a near-perfect example of playable variety, with six of the par 4s under 400 yards and par 5s stretching from 485 to 634 yards. The Gold Course is renowned for its par threes, all of which play over water.
The Green Course is Rees Jones’ original design. It’s carved from the same fascinating terrain, and although it’s a bit longer, at 7,120 yards, it plays a little easier, thanks to somewhat wider fairways and a bit less water in play. There’s no less aesthetic appeal, however, with holes like the downhill-over-water 173-yard 11th hole a standout anywhere. The family will particularly enjoy the Spotswood Course, a par-31 nine-hole track with par 4s and 5s, along with six par 3s.
Even a golf trip to Colonial Williamsburg should include time in the impressive historic area that put the destination on the map. The restored and recreated homes, demonstrations of everything from cannon firing to cookie making, and the live performances of historic events, will restore your appreciation of American history. More than 50 authentic homes, shops, taverns, and even a stunning royal palace deserve your time and attention off the golf course.
There are numerous accommodation options on-site and nearby, ranging from the elegant Williamsburg Inn to family-friendly Williamsburg Woodlands Hotel & Suites. For those who want the full authentic experience, meticulously reproduced colonial houses (with modern amenities) are available in the heart of the historic area. Countless restaurants, historic taverns, casual eateries, and fun snack shops are within walking distance of the historic district and nearby Merchants Square.