We've rounded up the best US golf vacations for you. This year has been difficult because the Covid-19 pandemic has truly hit us hard, in many ways, especially when it comes to traveling.
But, the good news is that golf has a low-risk for COVID. Here are our suggestions for the best US golf vacations, for a healthy and safe golfing experience.
Covid and Golf Vacations
Restrictions have been implemented to reduce the spread of the virus. But realistically we cannot put our lives on hold forever, and we shouldn’t.
We shouldn’t let fear keep us from living our lives to the fullest. If golfing is among your passions you should not give it up. You can still enjoy a perfectly safe golf getaway, even during these crazy times, but please follow the rules to slow COVID.
Golfing During Covid-19
Golf has been designated as a low-risk activity for COVID. Most golf resorts and clubs have changed the way they manage the games to make playing as safe as possible. Here are some of the measures taken by golf businesses to protect golf enthusiasts:
- Probably the first things that needed to be Covid-proofed were bunkers. Traditionally golfers would use nearby bunker rakes to maintain the bunkers on the course after hitting the ball inside one. This meant that multiple golfers would use the same rake, throughout the day.
- To resolve this issue, on some courses, players are now provided with liquid hand sanitizers and wipes to be used before and after touching the rake. Other clubs have removed the rakes and players are advised to try and smooth the disturbed area with their feet or the club after hitting a ball from the bunker.
- Other clubs chose to give each player their own rake, disinfecting them between uses. And other golf clubs are opting to keep the rakes and assign one rake for each golfing group and advising players to designate one person to be on rake duty.
- Another thing that definitely had to be addressed due to the new pandemic regulations were golf carts. Just like the bunker rakes, various golf clubs came up with different solutions.
- Some clubs decided to only allow one person in one cart, other clubs added a glass separator between seats while others have removed the carts completely. The safest (and healthiest) way to deal with COVID is to simply walk to the holes instead of driving. The added benefit is enjoying some physical activity along the way.
- The flagpole was another golfing element that has been affected by COVID. The most common solution was to remove it entirely and provide golfers with maps and detailed instructions about the course. Some courses chose to assign a person from their staff to handle the flagpole and others have designated a person from each group of players to be in charge of it while also providing the means to disinfect it after each use.
- The last element of the game that needed an adaptation was the scoring. This is something that some courses had implemented prior to the pandemic. The most common changes include transmitting the score via email or text message, taking a picture of the scoreboard and sending that via email, or allowing people to use third-party apps to keep track of it.
Now that you’ve been briefed on the most common changes COVID-19 has brought to the world of golf, let’s dive into the best Florida golf destinations.
Best US Golf Getaway Destinations
Golf Getaway: The TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course
TPC Sawgrass is located in Ponte Vedra, just 12 miles from Jacksonville, and 20 miles north of the historic St. Augustine, making it a great golf vacation destination.
The TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course has earned quite a reputation throughout the years, being home to The Players Championship. The Player's Championship is a famous annual golf tournament on the PGA Tour.
Besides the infamous 17th island hole, which can either leave you with a negative or a positive memory (depending on how many balls were dumped in the drink), the course features a selection of brilliant holes, that can pose a challenge to even experienced golfers.
A brief overview of some of the course’s highlights:
- 1st hole is not your average gentle course opening but it isn’t as difficult as many of the holes on the course, and it gives you options off the tee.
- 2nd hole gives you the option to decide how the day is going to go, will you play aggressive and go for the eagle or birdie early? Or will you choose to play smart, layup and try to make a 4 with the one putt?
- Even though water is present along a lot of the course, it does not come into play as much as you’d expect due to the effective use of bunkering across the holes.
- One hole where you will have to pay more attention to the water factor is the notorious 17th island hole where you can lose a quite significant number of balls to the water, if your aim is not on spot.
When it comes to the Covid-19 pandemic situation, several safety precautions have been taken on the course to protect golfers:
- Each staff member is required to go through a health questionnaire each day they work to make sure they meet the CDC requirements and they are obligated to stay home if sick. Also, they are required to wear a face mask in all public areas.
- Hand sanitizer is provided to members/guests throughout the club.
- Only 2 people are allowed in a golf cart. The carts are also sanitized prior to and following each round played.
- Door handles, keyboards, POS touch screens, pens and the Golf Shop counter are often wiped down with disinfectant spray and wipes.
- Social distancing regulations are kept. Additional spacing is provided on the practice tee to make this possible.
- Rental club grips are disinfected before and after use.
Golf Getaways: The PGA National Resort
Located in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, the PGA National Resort is home to five of the top golf courses in Florida:
- The Champion – Best known by being home to the PGA Tour’s Honda Classic since 2007, it is considered by many one of the best courses in the US. The course has five sets of tees to make it more playable for golfers of all levels. For the more experienced folks, it also features one of the most notable golf challenges, the Bear Trap, which spans three demanding holes designed by Jack Nicklaus. USA Today calls the Bear Trap “one of the toughest stretches in golf.” So, if you are looking for a challenge this may be the perfect course for you.
- The Palmer – Named after its designer, Arnold Palmer, this is one of the more forgiving courses the PGA National Resort has to offer. The open fairways and larger greens can be quite accommodating. Here players can take a chance if they dare as they are not overly penalized for missing the fairway or primary rough on most holes. The course has a great finishing hole series, with the 18th hole being one of the most scenic par 5s on the field.
- The Squire – The course is surrounded by natural areas teeming with vegetation and wildlife with its 5th hole even running along part of a wilderness preserve, which borders the west side of the PGA National community. Named after the famous Gene Sarazen, the first golfer ever to win the professional Grand Slam, this course is the ultimate test of accuracy and precision. Designed by Tom and George Fazio, it is the shortest and most exacting of the PGA National Resort’s courses.
- The Fazio – This rather new course is a reinvention of The Haig, PGA National Resort’s original 18-hole course opened in 1980. Originally, The Haig was designed by George and Tom Fazio in tribute to five-time PGA champion Walter Hagen. Its renovation is being led by third-generation designer Tom Fazio II, who has emphasized modernizing the course’s layout. While keeping the original par-72 route intact, the renovation improves the classic golf architecture using modern advances.
- The Estate – Designed by Karl Litten, this course features an enjoyable mix of challenging and easy to tackle holes. It is one of the shorter courses of the resort and is suitable for players of all levels. The formidable placement of fairway bunkers and water hazards are the places where players put their skills to the test. The generous fairways of this course will often make stray tee shots easier to manage, and the large, inviting greens keep the course fun for the high handicapper.
With close proximity to the West Palm Beach airport, and five courses to choose from, the PGA National Resort is a great choice for a golf getaway.
In relation to the Covid-19 crisis, the PGA National Resort is following state and county mandates to ensure the health and safety of its guests and associates. Measures that have been taken:
- All hotel employees have completed enhanced COVID-19 training to be able to create an environment that is safe for all. This includes the frequency of washing their hands, social distancing, and proper cleaning etiquette.
- The staff is being outfitted with masks and gloves where appropriate.
- Measures have been taken to allow for social distancing regulations to be followed. You will find that lines have been created at the front desk along with safety shields. Signs have been strategically placed throughout the resort to remind the guests and staff of the importance of maintaining a safe distance. In addition, the number of guests who can be on an elevator at one time has been reduced.
- Hand sanitizers have strategically been placed throughout the resort and club operations.Orlando Reunion Golf ResortThis is one resort that should be on every golfer’s bucket list. In fact, Reunion Resort is the only place in the world where you’ll find signature design courses by three of golf’s greatest legends: Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Tom Watson.
Golf Vacations: Orlando Reunion Golf Resort
This is one resort that should be on every golfer’s bucket list. In fact, Reunion Resort is the only place in the world where you’ll find signature design courses by three of golf’s greatest legends: Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, and Tom Watson. The Orlando Reunion Golf Resort is an exceptional choice for a golf vacation in the US.
- Arnold Palmer’s signature course is both beautiful and challenging, highlighted by expansive waste areas, ingeniously placed bunkers, and wide fairways. Routed on hilly, roller coaster-like terrain it features breathtaking natural preserve and extensive landscaping, providing a varied menu of shot-making opportunities across all eighteen holes.
- Tom Watson's signature course is a traditional, parkland-style course with a windswept, native look, offering undulating terrain unique with elevation variations as much as 45 feet from tee to green. The first Tom Watson-designed course in Florida, it provides beauty and challenge, demanding a strategic, well-thought approach.
- Jack Nicklaus’ signature course naturally contours to the landscape, flowing gently from tee to green. Designed to be a players’ course, the Nicklaus is as deceptive as it is beautiful, offering golfers the possibility of hitting risky shots with potentially big payoffs.
Covid-19 safety measures taken at the Orlando Reunion Golf Resort:
- One person golf carts (unless the players are from the same household).
- The staff is performing complete wipe downs of golf carts after every use and disinfectant wipes are available on the driving range.
- Staff members will no longer transport guest bags so players must carry their own bags.
- All staff members in public areas are required to wear masks, and social distancing guidelines are in place.
These three courses are some of the most challenging and fun in Florida for golfers. These are just three of the best US golf vacations you'll discover. There are so many wonderful golf getaway destinations scattered across the US.
About the author: Sean Petersen is the owner of Golf Trip Junkie, a trusted source for delivering memorable customized golf vacations, founded out of a passion for golf, to meet the travel needs of all level golfers. With access to hundreds of golf courses and resorts throughout the world, Golf Trip Junkie is ready to help you plan your next golf getaway!