Lookout Mountain Golf Course
Swerving through the saguaro-studded Sonoran Desert, the Lookout Mountain Golf Course has a great layout that seems to fly under the radar in golf-rich Phoenix. While it may not be the top tourist spot, local swingers have been flocking to it for years, so call a week in advance for a tee time. Tip: when foraging in the desert for your ball, avoid the Jumping cholla cacti at all costs.
Ventana Canyon Golf & Racquet Club
Notability in a sand-wedge part-3? Sure. Royal Troon’s “postage stamp.” Pebble Beaches 7th. Short is the new black. In the case of what is reportedly the most-photographed hole west of the Mississippi, Ventana‘s 107-yeard 3rd (Mountain Course), a pull-it-off-in-your-sleep shot isn’t so automatic when hitting from a crag over a canon to a slot green pinched into another rocky crag.
Turtle Bay Resort
North Shore, Oahu
Ironwood trees, flame-flowered ginger, wetlands and an Audubon-book array of birds mean a high aesthetic at Turtle Bay’s Palmer Course. Though not a seaside play, until the end, wind is a factor, so do your best Texas-low-ball imitation. And when the course hits the Big Blue on 17, a par-4 tiered in necklace strands of pearl-like bunkers, it’s, well, stunning.
Ko Olina Golf Club
The late, great Ted Robinson did the handiwork at Ko Olina, over on Oahu’s sunny west coast. Several of the par-3s are textbook Ted: perfectly manicured gardens with water flowing and cascading, a riot of flowers and stair-stepped greens. Take at least another stick on 12 to counteract the prevailing winds, but remember those tiered greens.
Tsawwassen Springs Golf
Miracles, it seems, do happen, even amid a doom-and-gloom economy. How else to explain Tsawwassen Springs, the affordable new 18-hole practically at the edge of the Strait of Georgia? A straightforward, yet challenging Ted Locke layout that’s already known for staying open year-round, Tsawwassen is eminently walkable and less than $60 to play—the perfect diversion from that interminable ferry lineup.
Dakota Dunes Golf Links
The Whitecap Dakota First Nation success story that is Dakota Dunes just keeps getting bigger. Saskatchewan’s most acclaimed golf course—a windswept, 7,300-yard Graham Cooke triumph that hosts the PGA Tour Canada’s Dakoka Dunes Open each year—also has a sprawling casino complex next door, which is in the throes of a $25-million expansion, and will include a new hotel and spa.
Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort
Las Vegas, Nev.
With three courses by Pete Dye that are the least “Pete Dye” creations in existence, Paiute is a win-win-win. Located on Paiute tribal land northwest of the city, the resort is refreshingly free of housing and other experience-stifling urban encroachments. There’s not a lamb in the flock, either, so if Wolf is booked, Sun Mountain and Snow Mountain are as rewarding.
Golfers were seized with one of two questions in 2012: “When are we going to Cabot Links?” and “When are we going back?” A luxury lodge now overlooks the first tee, just steps from the shore of the mighty Atlantic. A new course, Cabot Cliffs, is in the works to complement—it couldn’t possibly surpass—the original 18 holes comprising Rod Whitman’s “true links” masterpiece. Bring your wet-and-windy gear and extra patience.
Superstition Mountain Golf & Country Club
Gold Canyon, Ariz.
Broad-shouldered off the tee, with spectacular viewsheds and immaculate conditioning, Superstition’s two courses, called Prospector and Lost Gold, are standouts. The interest level peaks with approach shots because you just must gotta hafta leave your putt so that the flag is between your ball and the backdrop mountains, as everything runs—runs—toward the valley.
Badlands Golf Club
Las Vegas, Nev.
Badlands is Vegas’ roughest toughest tobacco-spittin’-est target-style golf course, bar none. There’s another course in these parts actually named Desert, and that play down in Primm is indeed the Mother Lode. It also looks quite cuddly in comparison to this most desert-y of desert outpost. If you’ve come to the Mojave to hit 1.68”-diameter orbs of space-age material at saddle bag-sized greens wedged between boulder, cactus and arroyo, Badlands is your hombre.