Weeks left to live and an unlimited budget? Time for the golf road trip of a lifetime.
Global Golfer picks five American courses for golf’s ultimate bucket list.
Five things to do before you die?
You could follow the example of Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman in the Hollywood heart warmer ‘The Bucket List.’
Two terminally ill cancer patients team up in hospital and head out on one last road trip determined to sign off in style.
Nicholson’s character Edward Cole is a billionaire and bankrolls the two men on a roller-coaster journey including parachute jumps, racing cars and visits to the Seven Wonders of the World.
It’s a little predictable and if you play golf, just wouldn’t do.
No. If your end was nigh you’d head to the first tee at some of the world’s greatest courses, wearing shorts, savoring the sun on your back, with luxury accommodation a mere buggy ride away.
Taking the British weather into account, grudgingly discount the great trophy links of Scotland and Ireland, and do as golf’s great designers did at the turn of the 20th century, head across the Atlantic Ocean to the USA.
Bucket list golf trips are hardly good for repeat business, but make for high spending affairs and here’s a journey through five American golf courses everyone should play before they die.
Pebble Beach, California
The jewel in the crown of golf’s famous 17-mile drive in Monterey, Northern California, Pebble Beach was voted the number one public golf course in the USA by Golf Digest in 2007.
While nearby Cypress Point is the course ordinary golf travellers can’t play, thankfully Pebble is one you can.
At around $495 a round plus cart, it’s certainly not cheap, but like St Andrews in Scotland, it’s a pseudo religious experience.
Furthermore, who is going to argue with Jack Nicklaus, perhaps the greatest golfer of all time, who said: “If I had one more round to play, I would play at Pebble Beach.I loved this course from the first time I saw it, it’s possibly the best in the world.”
What makes Pebble Beach special is its unrivalled location, wound around cliffs overlooking the thundering Pacific Ocean, serenaded by the roar of waves crashing on rocks beneath.
With holes like the par-three 7th, which at 106-yards rivals even the Postage Stamp at Royal Troon and the 17th at TPC Sawgrass, for the title of golf’s most famous short hole, Pebble Beach has the power to awe and inspire.
The walk up the 18th hole is second only to that of the final hole of the Old Course at St Andrews, which resounds with history and the whisper of golf’s greatest triumphs.
Pebble Beach itself is a remarkable monument to the history of the game, and who could forget Tom Watson chipping in from an impossible position at the penultimate hole on route to winning the 1982 U.S Open, or Tiger Woods destroying the field by 15-strokes in the millennium Open.
The stretch of holes between the 7th and 10th is arguably the most dramatic in golf, with canyons and cliffs framing an incomparable backdrop, but many of Pebble’s holes are unremarkable, and sport the cart paths and real estate found at most US golf and country clubs.
This aside, the outstandingly beautiful setting and clever design of Neville, Grant and Henry Chandler Egan, mean this golfing pilgrimage surpasses even the highest expectations.
The Lodge at Pebble Beach offers relaxed elegance and an Oceanside setting if you want to celebrate the pilgrimage by staying on site overlooking the famous 18th.
The luxury suites and award-winning Spa are ample distraction for the wives and partners who might not share the romantic notion of playing golf’s great trophy courses. Good enough for Jack, good enough for any golfer,Pebble Beach is number one on our ‘Bucket List.’
Tel: 001 (0800) 654-9300
Torrey Pines, San Diego, California
From one great course overlooking the Pacific to another. Torrey Pines is another golf course that fires the imagination of every golfer, including world number one Tiger Woods, whose love affair with this municipal stems from his days as an amateur growing up inCalifornia.
Owned by the city of San Diego and consistently rated one of America’s best public courses, Torrey Pines in La Jolla is bounded by mountains to the North and ocean to the west.
At 7607-yards, Torrey Pines South is one of the toughest courses in U.S golf and was the scene of arguably Tiger’s greatest major victory in 2008.
He won the U.S Open in a playoff despite playing with a fractured thigh bone. Ouch. Any trip to Torrey should be undertaken in full health and feature both courses; public pay and play golf at its absolute finest
Tel: 001 (858) 452 3226
Crumpin Fox, Bernardstown, Massachusetts
While PineValley in New Jersey is consistently rated the world’s best golf course and a model case study for perfect golf course architecture, you can’t play it without incredible connections or a member’s invite.
The Crumpin Fox Club in Massachusetts is quite the opposite and as near to Pine Valley Golf as possible. Having played both, I’ll vouch it’s every bit as enjoyable.
Consistently rated the best public course in the state, architect Roger Rulewich has crafted a setting akin to PineValley.
Its holes are tight, tree-lined and feature well placed water hazards and 18 brilliantly designed green complexes that play fast and hard.
The clubhouse and ambiance is rustic and unpretentious and the members and staff incredibly friendly. A player’s course for a bargain fee, “The Fox” is fantastic.
Tel: 001 (413) 648-9101
Pinehurst No. 2, North Carolina
Not every great Cathedral of American Golf is private and inaccessible.
The Pinehurst resort in North Carolina has eight courses and is a dream golf vacation.
All eight are great but there’s only one course at Pinehurst for the ‘bucket list.’ No.2 is the resort’s greatest treasure and has staged more U.S Opens than any other course.
Designed by Scotsman Donald Ross in 1907, the course drew his own self styled assessment as the “fairest test of championship golf” ever designed. Its famous crowned greens and carefully placed bunkers are its greatest strength and most persuasive advert.
Perfect the chip-and-run, the lob and the putt with a rescue club before even booking a tee-time, and be prepared to laugh as well as cry. A remarkable property, crowned by a stately and impressive lodge, warm Southern hospitality and a rich vein of golfing history.
Tel: 001 910.295.6811
Sea Island, Georgia
Situated along five miles of private beach on the edge of the North Eastern Atlantic Ocean,Sea Island is consistently rated among the Top-10 golf resorts in North America.
The Cloister and Lodge accommodation combines five-star luxury with three tremendous golf courses tempered by the hands of designer Tom Fazio and former U.S PGA Champion Davis Love III.
The grand coastal resort offers bedrooms in a Spanish-Mediterranean style, but for seclusion and luxury try a Cloister Cottage. The Seaside, Plantation and Retreat courses all present a different challenge, but start by the ocean at the links first designed by Englishman Harry Colt in 1929 and renovated 70-years later by Fazio.
Careful shot selection and excellent powers of recovery are needed for a successful round, but Sea Island’s combination of excellent golf, luxury and peace and tranquility make it a perfect place to bow out from our ‘Bucket List.’