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Shouldering the Shoulder Season

Hitting These Golf Hot Spots in the Off-Season is a Smart Value Play

By Shane Sharp


The golf travel business, like any other tourism-driven industry, has its peak and off-peak times. Nestled in between the two, however, is a sweet spot known as the "shoulder season" that can yield big-time value and even better playing conditions. From the southeast to the southwest, the options are surprisingly robust.

"Highs in Dallas in November and early December can reach into the 70s," says Mike McCabe, General Manager at Old American Golf Club in The Colony, Texas. "Temperatures can also be in the 50s, so golfers can have an enjoyable round but need to plan accordingly."

Dallas

With easy access through two airports - Love Field and DFW International - the "Metroplex" is easy to get in and out of. Big "D" is all about business, so golfers in search of a traditional golf resort experience have limited options. Those who appreciate high quality daily fee and semi-private courses, however, will find an embarrassment of riches spread throughout the region.

Old American opened in 2010 to acclaim from Golfweek, Golf Digest and LINKS, and is located about 40 minutes north of DFW on scenic Lake Lewisville. The muscular layout was designed by Oklahoma-based Tripp Davis and PGA TOUR / Ryder Cup star Justin Leonard. Its architectural elements were inspired by the "Golden Age" of golf course architecture, from 1910 to 1937.

"This is a purists' golf course, and appeals to players who appreciate thinking their way around a layout," adds McCabe. "That stated if you play it from the tips you are going to need to bring some power as well."

So "pure" is Old American that homes only brush up against one hole, as the balance of the layout bobs and weaves along a stunning peninsula jutting into the lake. Owner Jack Matthews is driving home the "Classic American" theme with unique additions like a turn of the century Red River railroad bridge connecting the second and third holes, and a restored Midwestern farm barn serving as the cart storage area.

For traveling golfers, Old American teams with the NYLO family of boutique hotels, the closest of which is the Plano location near vibrant shopping, dining and entertainment at the Shops at Legacy. Packages start at just $213 per player, per night. Those looking to double down for two rounds in two days can tee it up across from Old American at The Tribute Golf Links, another Davis design ranked among the top courses in the area.

Hilton Head Island

With its golden beachfronts, lush fairways and good old fashioned Southern hospitality, Hilton Head Island is the ideal destination for golf enthusiasts seeking to play year-round. Hilton Head winter days can often feel like spring with average temperatures of 60 degrees and highs in the 70s. Crowds are also fewer with plenty of tee-time availability, and with the not-too-hot, not-too-cold temperatures, vacationers can still spend plenty of time outdoors.

There are more than 20 championship courses open to the public in the Lowcountry area sculpted by vaunted architects such as Pete Dye, Jack Nicklaus and Robert Trent Jones, including Harbour Town Golf Links, host to the PGA TOUR's RBC Heritage. Each one has its own set of unique characteristics and challenges to keep even the most skilled player motivated.

Hilton Head Island is offering a variety of winter stay-and-play packages featuring a diverse selection of championship courses and lodging options for the ultimate golf getaway. The Sea Pines Resort "Inn at Harbour Town Golf Package," Palmetto Dunes "Winter Stay-and-Play," Heritage Collection "Beach House Stay-and-Play," and Old South Golf Links "Winter Escape Package" are all available for booking at www.HiltonHeadGolfIsland.com.

Myrtle Beach

With its temperate coastal weather, 100-plus courses, and seemingly limitless options for accommodations -- a shoulder season golf vacation in Myrtle Beach is tough to beat.

Pawley Island's Caledonia Golf & Fish Club has a "Winter Golf Getaway Package" starting at $239 per person for two nights' lodging and three rounds. Caledonia is a thrilling 18 wandering serenely through tidal marshes, freshwater creeks and towering live oaks. Mike Strantz's inaugural design is a glorious joining of golf and Mother Nature especially when paired its dramatic sister course True Blue.

Starting at $260 per person, The Legends Golf & Resort's "3 for 4 Winter Special" features three nights / three rounds with the fourth night / round free. Its Heathland course is a Tom Doak masterpiece. The Legends also boasts five additional outstanding layouts: Moorland, Parkland, Oyster Bay, Heritage Club and Diamond Bay.

A full Myrtle Beach golf vacation could be had solely with Mystical Golf's three Dan Maples classics - The Witch, Man-O-War and The Wizard. Through Jan. 15 the "Magical Condo Golf Package" begins at $240 per player for three nights / three rounds and a ton of extras thrown in including daily lunch and breakfast.

An excellent resource for shoulder season Myrtle Beach golf and stay-and-play packages is Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday. Multiple airlines offer direct flights to Myrtle Beach International Airport (MYR) from more than 20 cities from Canada to Florida.

Mississippi

Mississippi is the third-largest gaming destination in North America featuring exciting casinos, upscale shopping, live entertainment, luxurious spas and internationally acclaimed golf courses.

Set in the deep south of the state along the Gulf Coast is Biloxi, a city rich with gaming and heritage, as well as more than 20 championship golf courses designed by the likes of Arnold Palmer (The Bridges), Jack Nicklaus (Grand Bear), Tom Fazio (Fallen Oak), Jerry Pate (The Preserve) and Davis Love III (Shell Landing).

For non-stop, Las Vegas-style gambling, the Gulf Coast is home to renowned venues such as Hard Rock Casino Resort Biloxi, Beau Rivage Resort & Casino, Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville Casino & Restaurant, the IP Casino and the recently expanded Palace Casino Resort.

Golfers can book "Unlimited Golf" packages starting at $99 in Gulfport at Windance Country Club, including all-you-can-play golf at with golf cart and range balls, one night deluxe accommodations at Island View Casino Resort, unlimited trips to The Buffet at the resort, one free drink at any of the resort's venues and $10 free slot play (877.774.8439 for more information).

Gulf Shores

Gulf Shores is the 32-mile stretch of sugar-sand beaches that features an array of activities for all generations in the family to enjoy including golf, dining, shopping, fishing, sailing, wildlife refuges, hiking and parasailing.

The destination offers shoulder season guests an inviting, warm, and laid-back atmosphere. Gulf Shores has nine signature golf courses, all within a 45 minute drive from each other and is home to one of the world's largest charter fishing boat fleets and with a dozen marinas and hundreds of vessels.

Golfers can pick-up a two-bedroom Golf Villa for $66.74 per person, per night based on quad occupancy (includes taxes and fees, three rounds of golf) with one king bed, two twin beds and a sleeper sofa. An Unlimited Golf option is available at a nominal fee with any package. For a customized quote for groups of all sizes call 888.815.1902.

Northwest Florida

As south Florida moves into its peak tourism season, the state's "Emerald Coast" shifts into its quiet time. Highs along the Northwest coast still reach into the 60s and 70s, and dry, sunny days are the norm. At the heart of it all is Sandestin Golf and Beach resort, featuring four courses and numerous accommodation options.

Trophy hunters are attracted to the resort's two marquee tracks, The Raven and Burnt Pines, while the Baytowne and Links courses offer playability, forgiveness and tremendous value. Golfers looking for the biggest shoulder season bang for the buck can book the "Classic Golf Package," starting at $110 per golfer, per night including two rounds on Links and Baytowne.

Couples or guests who crave a bit more luxury than a villa or condo offers can bed down at the completely remodeled and refreshed LeCiel boutique hotel or the Grand Sandestin. Getting to Sandestin has never been easier, with Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport (ECP) and Northwest Florida Regional Airport (VPS) offering direct flights from a dozen cities.



Revised: 12/02/2013 - Article Viewed 19,372 Times


About: Shane Sharp


Shane Sharp Shane Sharp is a longtime golf writer based in Greenville, S.C. In addition to running his content marketing business, Southbound 4, he's a regular contributor to GOLF Magazine, Golf Inc., Club Management and other golf magazines and websites.



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